How did Pokémon become the highest-grossing media franchise?

How did Pokemon become the highest-grossing media franchise

No matter what kind of opinion one holds about the franchise, none can deny that Pokemon is the most recognizable piece of media out there. Almost no person under the sky would look at a Pikachu and go, ‘I’ve never seen that before.’, because that’s just how powerful and widespread the franchise’s presence is. How did Pokemon become the highest-grossing media franchise? Let’s find out.

Fanbase and Target Demographic

How did Pokemon become the highest-grossing media franchise
Image Courtesy of The Pokemon Company

Pokémon was initially conceived as a video game series targeted at children. However, what sets it apart is its ability to transcend age boundaries and appeal to people of all generations. The franchise has managed to create one of the most intricately built, immersive worlds in fiction, leading to a loyal and dedicated fanbase.

  • Fans of the series not only enjoy playing the games but also indulge in other forms of its media, including trading card games, animated series, movies, and merchandise.
  • The loyalty of fans is exemplified by their willingness to spend liberally on all things related to the franchise.
  • From purchasing video games, trading cards, and merchandise to attending Pokémon-themed events and conventions, fans enthusiastically support the franchise, regardless of how much they complain about each new game.
  • This unwavering dedication and willingness to invest in merchandise and content from fans have undoubtedly contributed to its status as the highest-grossing media franchise.

Global Presence

While many media franchises primarily target their domestic markets or specific regions, Pokémon quickly managed to expand its reach globally. The title’s success in Japan, where it originated, provided a strong foundation for its international expansion.

  • The franchise’s launch in the United States in 1998, with the introduction of the anime series and video games, sparked immediate interest and curiosity, marking the beginning of Pokémon’s worldwide popularity.
  • What set Pokémon apart from other franchises was its efficient and strategic approach to internationalization.
  • By partnering with different companies and distributors, the franchise ensured a swift and widespread release of its products in various regions.
  • The franchise’s video games were translated into multiple languages, allowing players from different countries to engage with the Pokémon world in their native tongues.

Ubiquitous Expansion

How did Pokemon become the highest-grossing media franchise
Image Courtesy of The Pokemon Company

While Pokémon began as a video game series, its creators and Nintendo recognized the potential for expansion across different mediums. Rather than limiting themselves to games, they embraced a multi-dimensional approach to franchise expansion. The franchise’s ubiquity in popular culture is evident through its presence in anime, movies, merchandise, theme parks, mobile apps, and more.

  • The anime series, first aired in 1997, quickly gained popularity and became a staple of children’s programming.
  • The ongoing anime series, along with movies, has continued to captivate audiences, further solidifying the franchise’s place in entertainment.
  • Beyond the anime, they started expanding into other avenues, eventually covering all sorts of things from trading cards and toys to clothing and accessories.


This commitment to catering to a global audience played a significant role in Pokémon’s ability to surpass language and cultural barriers, fostering a massive and diverse fanbase worldwide. While the mainline games still stand as their core product, the empire they’ve built through the annex products made them soar to heights unseen by any other franchise.

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