Pokemon trainer holding a Pikachu with angry fan in the background
Some older fans want to see the franchise go into a more mature direction. (Illustration by Skylar Owenby, Western Carolina University)

Older Pokémon Fans Should Stop Asking for a Game Just for Adults

While the franchise is primarily targeted toward children, grown-up players want something just for them. Here’s why that’s probably never going to happen.

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Pokemon trainer holding a Pikachu with angry fan in the background
Some older fans want to see the franchise go into a more mature direction. (Illustration by Skylar Owenby, Western Carolina University)

While the franchise is primarily targeted toward children, grown-up players want something just for them. Here’s why that’s probably never going to happen.

Created in 1996, Pokémon celebrated its 25th anniversary this year. With a long-standing history like this, there are many fans like myself who have grown up with the series.

I started playing Pokémon video games and collecting Pokémon cards when I was 4 years old. As I grew up with Pokémon, the love I have for the little monsters has never waned. But as an adult, I can admit that the franchise has undergone many changes. Video game developers sometimes struggle to create new and exciting plots, and some Pokémon design decisions seem to ask the question, “We already have 905 Pokémon, what ELSE can we do?”

Recently, long-time fans of the games have debated online about Nintendo and Game Freak developing a Pokémon game geared more toward their adult players. They say that players who began the original games as kids are well into their 20s now, which is true. In 2017, Nintendo revealed that a majority of its player base is made up of people aged 20-30, and it seems as if the demographic gets older with each new release. Some polls show that more than half of the Pokémon player base are players over 18. Because of this, should Nintendo create a game made specifically for their more adult audience?

Pokémon is a game that is and has always been for children. The target age group for Pokémon is aged 7-12. Nintendo uses a blue ocean business strategy, aiming to avoid competition with PlayStation and Xbox by creating demand for games targeted at other audiences. The most successful PlayStation and Xbox games target older demographics, usually those aged 17-40. Nintendo, on the other hand, focuses on a completely different audience: children and casual players.

This model that Nintendo has used for years is working. They avoid most of the competition between PlayStation and Xbox and dodge comparisons to their own games. They rarely stray from the simple plots of games like those in the Mario franchise, for example, but still offer more mature storylines for players with game series like The Legend of Zelda. For fans of typical turn-based RPG gameplay, Nintendo offers up Fire Emblem and a wealth of other games with similar mechanics. So why is it so important to older Pokémon fans that Nintendo fixes a problem that doesn’t exist for the company?

These conversations reflect a weird trend emerging from online fan communities. Nearly 2 million “Game of Thrones” fans signed a petition demanding HBO rewrite the series’s entire last season since it wasn’t up to fans’ standards. And I’m sure we all remember “Sonic the Hedgehog” getting a complete redesign after the first trailer was released.

Fans can express their opinions online, and media creators see these big conversations. Even if they didn’t do a complete redo of the last season of “Game of Thrones,” HBO still had to address comments online. Sonic’s design was completely changed, which might have even saved the movie from being a complete flop. However, I think it’s a bit weird that fans have started to think that their demands on the internet will always be met, and it leads to a kind of entitlement.

Of course, you should voice your opinions online, but you can’t expect huge companies to change everything that you don’t like. It seems that a few of these older Pokémon fans have gotten to the point of expecting and demanding. A lot of posts ask for adult-oriented Pokémon games since adults are the ones spending money on all things Pokémon. But unfortunately, the company you follow doesn’t owe you anything.

Besides all that, what is wrong with Pokémon being a game for children? It doesn’t take away from the enjoyment that fans of all ages experience. The collection aspect of the game has never been changed and gets harder and harder with each addition to the long-standing series. Most video games are technically aimed toward children, much like Disney and Pixar movies. Yet, this doesn’t prevent adults from becoming diehard fans. There’s nothing wrong with liking things targeted toward kids, and media made for children doesn’t always mean that it doesn’t deal with topics that adults can’t relate to. Pixar’s “Soul” is a movie that grapples with the tough topic of death, yet it can inspire different thoughts from different audiences in different ways.

There’s also an argument that Pokémon does appeal to its adult fan base every once in a while. Many older players complain that Pokémon has become too easy, but there have always been ways for trainers to take on an extra challenge. The Pokémon Trading Card Game (PTCG) has become a minefield of difficult-to-navigate rules and complicated mechanics that lends itself to harder and more intense battles. The huge resurgence of PTCG popularity has even recently revived an old online client, which will be replaced by PTCG Live launching sometime this year. The competitive scene for Pokémon video games is dominated by players with well-thought-out movesets and perfectly planned team synergy. Nintendo hosts multiple online battle events a year where players are invited to play under certain conditions to make things tougher for players who are up to it.

It would probably be amazing if Nintendo created a more mature Pokémon experience for fans. Harder difficulties or more intense storylines all sound great, but in the grand scheme of things, I don’t think it’s a high priority on Nintendo’s to-do list — even if some fans online have noted that Pokémon Legends: Arceus is the closest to an adult Pokémon game we’ve yet to see. In my opinion, Pokémon doesn’t need to grow up or change with the times. It will always be a game for kids; however, I think it’s okay to go back to being a kid every once in a while.

Writer Profile

Peyton Conner

Indiana University
Interactive and Digital Media with a Specialization in Game Production

Peyton Conner is a student studying game production and graphic design at Indiana University. She hopes to take her passion for games worldwide and create positive change in the video game industry.

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