Nintendo is on a hot streak as of late. The Switch is one of the best-selling consoles in the world, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is quickly becoming a household title, and Pokémon, for what feels like the 4th time this decade, is sweeping over the world once again.
However, for as lucrative and impressive as Nintendo has been in the sales department, there’s still a lot to be desired when it comes to the company’s fostering of an esports scene that can hang in the conversation. The Smash community can tell you everything you need to know about Nintendo’s lack of involvement in esports, and the competitive Pokémon scene can back up many of their sentiments (albeit to a lesser extent).
However, each time a new game is released, that respective franchise’s competitive scene seems to always get some sort of boost in popularity. We saw this concept at work with another Nintendo title this past winter in Smash, and there’s reason to believe that Pokémon will see similar results after the release of Pokémon: Sword and Shield.
For years, competitive VGC Pokémon has been in a reasonably decent spot, but the franchise’s popularity has remained ultimately stagnant. There has always been a loyal playerbase that the franchise could build around, but not much else. Moving forward, that loyal playerbase is going to remain intact and continue to champion Pokémon’s cause through the future. However, the release of a brand new game on an incredibly popular console will most definitely bring some fresh faces into the community.
Looking ahead to 2020, it would only make sense for the franchise to spike in popularity once again, as the Switch has already proven to be a much more marketable medium for play than most Nintendo consoles. Additionally, Sword and Shield sold over 6 million copies by November 21, and with that number only rising, there’s reason to believe that many of the series’ new and returning players might want to get into the competitive side of the game while the hype levels are still through the roof.
Still, it’s imperative to strike while the iron’s hot, and with Pokémon fever spreading like wildfire, the iron is downright scorching. The natural popularity and legacy of Pokémon, combined with the popularity and accessibility of the Switch make the possibility of the competitive Pokémon scene experiencing a renaissance in the very near future. Additionally, creating an optimal competitive team has never been simpler. The ladder to climb in order to get into the scene is substantially easier to ascend.
The release of Sword/Shield has breathed new life into Pokémon, and moving forward, it wouldn’t be entirely unreasonable to suggest that the series’ newest title could pay substantial dividends for the franchise as a whole. 2020 could be a massive year for Pokémon, and its competitive scene could reap the benefits of a new era to the fullest extent. There’s no way the community comes out on the losing end of Sword/Shield’s release. For the first time in a long time, things are looking exponentially up for competitive Pokémon.
Photo Credit: Nintendo, Pokémon: Sword and Shield