I need to get something off of my chest

Originally, I wanted to write a thread specifically discussing this issue in regards to the Pokémon franchise, but as things stand now, I feel like this might be enough of an unspoken issue to where this could be happening in virtually any multimedia franchise. That being said, I mentioned in the title of this thread that I have something I need to get off my chest. There's been a stingy feeling lately that I just can't seem to get rid of that I need to talk about this somewhere. In an effort to best describe what's bothering me, let's talk business statistics for a second.

Let's say you and any number of co-workers are currently working relatively high-end positions within your company. Like any company, your goal is to make a financial profit to satisfy your customers, shareholders, et cetera. But here's the catch- your company is historically extremely successful, so much so that your brand awareness is recognized by individuals around the entire world. With such a financially relevant company that needs a constant flow of revenue coming in from your product sales, it's not hard for you as a high-end worker to see why lower sales figures than what you're used could have serious repercussions down the road. What is the best way to increase your sales? Making quality products that consumers are actually going to want to purchase, of course. There's obviously a lot more to this, of course- advertising, the role of your consumer base, and so much more- but by and large, the idea that people paying for the most efficient, effective, and affordable services in your field will increase your sales figures seems perfectly reasonable, right? ...right? Because here's the thing- it's not.

Going over to Pokémon as an example, I'm sure we've all heard our fair share of hatred toward the newer main series installments. Over the past year and a half, responses to Pokémon Scarlet & Violet have been all over the place, being cited by many reputable sources as the worst games in the main series- certainly something you want to avoid consumers and shareholders hearing about if you're Game Freak or The Pokémon Company, among others. So, I asked myself, why is it that a game that was seemingly loathed by the masses able to sell over 23 million copies so far at this point in time? Doesn't that number seem a little bit... high to you? Dare I say... suspiciously high?

I don't want to try and undermine some of the major, often historical success that many video games have had over the past... let's say 10 to 15 years. Games like Minecraft, Grand Theft Auto 5, four different Mario Kart games selling a combined 117 million, Call of Duty's massive success during the 2010s, I can understand why games like this would have the numbers they do, especially when you consider that these are across multiple consoles and handhelds. But let's take a look at some of those I.Ps. for a second. Vanilla Minecraft has been playable on... I believe eleven different platforms in total and came out over a decade ago, so of course a game with as much creative liberty and influence on the industry is going to be the best-selling game ever made. The Mario Kart series has consistently been Nintendo's single best-selling games on every Nintendo platform going as far back as the Wii installment (no, Wii Sports doesn't count, we're talking standalone purchases, not console bundles) and has an extremely well-known multimedia franchise in its own right to pull from. to the point where Mario Kart had become the quintessential series in its genre. The amount of success Activision has had with Call of Duty during the 2010s was simply ridiculous, never going more than one year at a time without the best-selling multi-platform release of the year from 2009 all the way to 2019 on top of the microtransaction revenue from the Battle Royales and the mobile game.

Compared to financial juggernauts like these, I hesitate to believe that, even with the millions of Pokémon fans who can and will buy anything with a Pikachu slapped onto it, games like Sword & Shield and especially Scarlet & Violet are actually as successful as the sales numbers would have you believe. Die-hard sports fans may recall the use of the word "dynasty" popping up in discussions every now and then, and I wouldn't be so critical if Pokémon didn't also previously have a quote-on-quote "sales dynasty" of its own, spanning from 1996 to 2004. More specifically, the original Gen 1, Gen 2, and Gen 3 games were all the best-selling games on their respective Game Boy series generations when all versions are considered, to say nothing of the dominance that the anime and the merchandise had at the time. The natural counter-argument to this is that there's a lot more people that know about Pokémon nowadays than when it was still much more new. The new generations of fans having access to the Internet for easier communication and better advertisement may also explain why newer games could match the audience size of Pokémon in its heyday.

For the purpose of not making this post quite literally too long to send, I'll wrap things up here and we can continue with discussions if you so please. Long story short, I think it's very possible that major companies may be secretly inflating their sales and revenue figures for the purposes of making their I.Ps look better. I've been using video games as my examples and references here, but that's simply because it's the market I feel like I know the most about compared to, say, TV and movies, books, et cetera. Does this all just sound like some blown out-of proportion conspiracy theory? Absolutely. But consider, just for a moment, just how much one million is. You (the people publishing the numbers) honestly expect me to believe that arguably the least popular Pokémon game for a rapidly aging fanbase sold over 23 million copies in a time full of older fans being upset with the developers, economic recessions all around the world, and when the people who played Pokémon games in the late '90s and early 2000s supported the franchise more than people do nowadays to begin with? And you consider the fact that Pokémon's constant release schedule and the rising cost of video games in general makes it so people probably have much less money to spend on video games period? Yeah, uh... no. But like I said at the very beginning of this, all I wanted to do was get something off of my chest. Thanks for reading, and I'm sorry that this isn't my usual kind of material.
 
For the case of Pokemon (and other established series), I would definitely expect there to be some lag in responding to a change in quality. I don't feel that main review channels have that much influence (among people ingrained enough in gaming to see these reviews often, distrust in gaming journalism seems to be pretty high). So people would still probably go out and get the first game that lies outside their preferences if the rest of the series was well-loved. Of course, that same lack of trusted information means that even if the devs get their act together in the immediate next game, the community wouldn't know that for a while. I've been a part of that with major series making big changes as they came to Switch, and honestly probably would have gotten (and been further dissapointed by) LGPE or SwSh if they had made it any less obvious these weren't the games for me. The clearest other example for me would be with Fire Emblem. Despite Engage being nearly everything I want out of an FE game and 3H being ... not that, I still had gotten 3H as part of a well-loved series and very nearly didn't get Engage due to being dissatisfied with the previous game (it basically took someone who I played other strategy games with in-person telling me that it is not like 3H).
 

Wigglytuff

mad @ redacted in redacted
is a Tiering Contributor
Long story short, I think it's very possible that major companies may be secretly inflating their sales and revenue figures for the purposes of making their I.Ps look better.
So Ryan, to give the impression of sales, recorded them twice. Once as offices and once in the website sales, which is what we refer to in the business as misleading the shareholders. Another good term is fraud.

There are also independent companies that estimate the sales figures of games, and they generally match up with reported figures from publishers. I'm not going to pretend like I know how they estimate these sales numbers, but if what you're saying is true, that would mean that video game companies are colluding with companies like Statista, who have a fiduciary responsibility to not do that.

It's possible, of course, but this is super unlikely and you should look at alternative explanations first. I think most of what you brought up have much more plausible answers than fraud.

- Bad reviews: nobody cares. Even without getting into how the goals of reviewers and consumers aren't aligned when it comes to long franchises like Pokemon, it's not something shareholders (who don't even necessarily have to be into video games to be shareholders) care about when the sales figure are what they are. Obviously the consumers don't care either, because every game since Gen 4 has had its turn on being "the worst game in the series," and the franchise is still alive and well.

- Comparisons to other games: Pokemon specifically has a leg up on other franchises on account of getting away with having 2 games per release when it should really be one. If you're really into COD, you buy the special war crime edition that costs 12 million bucks, but it's still one copy. To have the "complete" experience in Pokemon, you either need to have a friend with the opposite game or buy 2 copies yourself. It's true that Pokemon is only on one console...but these tend to be wildly popular consoles. There are more Switches sold than the latest gen Xbox and PS5 combined.

- Economic recessions: true, but relative to inflation, the price of Pokemon hasn't gone up. If anything, it's decreasing. I personally wouldn't see this as for one side or the other.

- Aging fanbase: we have some old fucks on Smogon that are still into Pokemon, if not playing the main games. If nothing else, SV was touted as a new approach to Pokemon with its open world approach. Doesn't it seem conceivable that older fans that got tired of the formulaic approach would want to try out what seems to be a fresh start?
 
Pokémon is a weird case. At the scale the Pokémon franchise runs at, it must be everything to all people. Objectively the games could be a lot better -- GameFreak runs itself like a small indie company and that limits the series a lot -- but I'm not sure they could sell a lot better. They already sell so well, right? So what's the point in changing their strategy? Just because it makes the games better? The people in charge of GameFreak's operations are so far removed from having to care about that.

The idea of a lagging indicator is totally valid. Look what happened with Sticker Star (horribly received, sold well) and its sequel (middling reviews, sold horribly). But I don't think the Pokémon games are worse per se. They're just different. I don't like them, because the things I like (competitive, exploration, open ended gameplay) have improved very slowly, and the things I don't like are clearly the focus now. But clearly lots of people love the direction the series has taken. If GF wanted to grow their company they could make a game that does everything, but they clearly don't, so they're artificially limited in what they can achieve.
 
To us old people who play a child's slave rancher game a little too seriously, yeah SwSh and SV are sorta ass. VGC is poorly run and outside of grinding the Elite 4 into dust there isn't really any challenge to be found. I think I speak for a lot of people here when I say after the past few games I won't be giving Gamefreak any more of my money. I just don't get any enjoyment out of Pokémon games any more.

However us here on Smogon are in an extreme minority. My husband's niece is 6 and loves Pokémon. She has stuffed animals, toys, costumes, books, and watches the TV show and movies. She has never played a Pokémon game before! A lot of people interested in the series are in it for the Pokémon, not so much the games. Pokémon is a global IP, the games are a relatively small part of the formula. In addition my husband's younger siblings (13-15) loved Sword and Shield. I had to help them beat Leon because as it turns out the games are way harder if you don't have encyclopedic knowledge of every Pokémon's base stats. The shorter SwSh story worked well because if it was much longer they would have probably moved on to another game.

Even for those of us who no longer play the games... well I'm a grown ass adult woman and I have a shelf of Pokémon toys that I occasionally add to. My friend just recently got a Pokémon tattoo. Another of my friends is getting into the card game. All of us get minimal pleasure from the video games, but that doesn't mean we're free from the Pokémon company's iron grip.

I think for us Smogoners yeah we're going to buy fewer games. But for the game's actual target audience they're going to provide an entertaining experience to an early teen who intends on beating the champion then never touching the game ever again, or they're something that a child eventually works up to after watching the anime for years.

Tbh the games aren't very good but they don't have to be. If we want a good Pokémon game rom hacks exist and will always be dramatically better than anything to come from an official release. But we aren't the target audience, and for the target audience the glitches and bad IGN reviews are irrelevant, because a kid still wants to experience their first Pokémon journey.
 

Adeleine

after committing a dangerous crime
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i adored swsh and found it to be genuinely good by pokemon standards. i sincerely believe nostalgia bias and preference myopia cloud a lot of discourse on 'the newer pokemon games', a category that has continually changed and morphed across the past two decades. i'd ordinarily have just liked the above post and call it a day, because it is mostly true, but i wanted to post on my own to point out that, even if one disagrees with my conclusion, meaningful quantities of even hardcore fans still like and appreciate ss and sv for their several legitimate strengths
 
I’m going to be completely honest with you guys. Yes, I know I said I wanted to get something off my chest, and that was still true. But at the end of the day, even I have to admit I’ve had some pretty stupid takes on the Internet, this being one of them. Am I embarrassed? Surprisingly… not really. I’m choosing to not act like a child for one thing, but more importantly I want to try and learn from things like this.

or who knows maybe I just shouldn’t post here anymore, first my horrible OU takes and now this-

In all seriousness though, what I’m taking away here is that, yes, maybe I should keep some of my conspiracy theories and shower thoughts to myself, but also that there are still reasons these games could be financially successful. That’s all I’m going to say for now. I want to stop myself before I start thinking about anything else crazy enough to make me wonder if I should give a whole thread to it.
 

ZippyDoo200

Banned deucer.
Impressive, congrats OP. You finally realized the game companies are doing the same lies as movie companies, book companies, etc.
Something not a lot of people are able to do lol
 
I think the "slapped a Pikachu face on it" is an overblown meme, but there is some truth to it. The truth is, every single mainline Pokemon game has given at least the bare minimum of what is needed for the casual audience to get the "magic of Pokemon". A lot of Pokemon is sold on the idea and roleplaying potential, and simply put, Pokemon keeps doing that.

"Game Freak has not changed much in 25 years!" Because that is a big part of why people like it. Even if the game is at a lower quality, you can get into the mindset the developers want you to if you are more casual and do not try to think critically about what you are enjoying. When a new Pokemon game comes out, especially a new gen, it doesn't really matter the quality for me personally. At least, not yet- that matters for the longevity.

For me personally, even a game like BDSP has some value: Social and roleplaying.

Everyone around me is buying the new Pokemon, trading, talking about what their experience is like, and I want to be a part of that. It has the natural FOMO of like, a TV show or movie. In the same way that there are a lot of people who watch the new Marvel movie if it's a 9/10 or a 5/10 to keep up and be in the discussion, for me there is that element to my social circles.

It also helps that well, I do just keep enjoying the games. But on that subject I am kind of falling off of Pokemon, a bit. After Sun and Moon this happened before, mostly because of some disappointment. Not because the game wasn't high quality (imo it's the best in the series actually), but because so much of my time with those games was actually prerelease. Leaks kind of made the game feel less special, and it wouldn't be for about two years before I got back into the series with PMD.

And I am kinda hitting my second out of Pokemon phase right now. There are just too many other good games for me to care about Indigo Disk right now, in terms of actually playing it. I have it bought, downloaded, even fucked around with it for an hour. But like, eh? I think my issue with Scarlet/Violet is less that the game shipped broken. Fact is, so many games are nowadays, but what they do is usually actually fix it. I am not saying it's okay to ship it broken, but that it can be mitigated. SV remained so, and the DLC doesn't really add anything to the gameplay loop, it's just More Of The Game.

SWSH disappointed me but Crown Tundra was great and it felt like the devs were actually getting more of a "Vertical slice" of what their next idea for Pokemon was. Let me get this straight: You meet a likable cast of characters at the gate and are told there are three major storylines, which you can do in any order. You are set out to an open world with solely overworld catching, etc. etc. etc.

SV DLC does have the prototype for clearly a more Action style Pokemon game (mixed thoughts on that tbh), but that doesn't actually make the DLC feel that different, it's basically the same. I do hope that Double Battles do become a deeper focus like in the DLC, but I doubt it.

Anywho, I hope my perspective shed light from a person who is yes into competitive, but does buy and play the games extremely casually too. in short, social circles and FOMO makes it hard to keep out of paying Game Freak my yearly toll fee, along with Pokemon feeling magical to me due to growing up with it and engrossing myself in it.
 

ZippyDoo200

Banned deucer.
I have something to get off my chest as well.

I hate myself. I dont like any of my “friends.” Because they are a reflection of myself. I don’t like any of my family (hate most of them really) cause they are a reflection of myself.

I even dislike all of YOU. Yes you. Probably a dude into nerdy shit. You remind me of myself so I will always hate you even if its just a little.
 
I have something to get off my chest as well.

I hate myself. I dont like any of my “friends.” Because they are a reflection of myself. I don’t like any of my family (hate most of them really) cause they are a reflection of myself.

I even dislike all of YOU. Yes you. Probably a dude into nerdy shit. You remind me of myself so I will always hate you even if its just a little.
This puts me in a weird spot. Genuinely curious- wouldn’t this mean someone saying they hate you is actually a good thing due to the reverse psychology of you yourself hating who you are? But if you agree with someone because they hate you because you hate yourself, then do you actually hate them like you said you did because they’re not reflecting yourself and instead reflecting what you want yourself and other people to think about you?

Enjoy the stroke you probably just had trying to understand this post. :quagchamppogsire: (I don’t truly hate anyone like this, let me make that clear)
 

awyp

'Alexa play Ladyfingers by Herb Alpert'
is a Top Tutoris a Top Team Rateris a Community Leaderis a Community Contributoris a Tiering Contributor
RMT Leader
I have something to get off my chest as well.

I hate myself. I dont like any of my “friends.” Because they are a reflection of myself. I don’t like any of my family (hate most of them really) cause they are a reflection of myself.

I even dislike all of YOU. Yes you. Probably a dude into nerdy shit. You remind me of myself so I will always hate you even if its just a little.
love u 2
 

ZippyDoo200

Banned deucer.
This puts me in a weird spot. Genuinely curious- wouldn’t this mean someone saying they hate you is actually a good thing due to the reverse psychology of you yourself hating who you are? But if you agree with someone because they hate you because you hate yourself, then do you actually hate them like you said you did because they’re not reflecting yourself and instead reflecting what you want yourself and other people to think about you?

Enjoy the stroke you probably just had trying to understand this post. :quagchamppogsire: (I don’t truly hate anyone like this, let me make that clear)
Im not sure exactly. I feel anxious when i dont know what people think of me, and i start to assume they hate me like i hate myself. Which usually leads to them hating me for real (cause i start to bug people to figure out if they hate me)
 

Wildfiree

Solitude
I do as well. One thing I noticed not everyone will like you even if you are “very likable” I’ve recently learned this year to accept that whether it is jealousy etc. I’m not the type of person to hold malice at all. It Just hurts when I’m the biggest hype man for some people and I don’t get the same energy back when it’s my turn. If one thing adult life taught me to be humble and cut my losses life will hurt you and break you. However at the end of the day through time you can build yourself up again. I will not change my heart because people hurt me. Although life might beat me down I will not change my heart because someone has decided to turn against me. There was a time I used to care what people think about me but now I don’t as you never really know their whole story. Thanks for listening to my vent. This is not for only myself but those kind hearted individuals never change and don’t let the world change you you will get your blessings. Much love ❤
 
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