Pokémon Unite producer Masaaki Hoshino shared new details about the upcoming strategic battle game with Japanese media outlet Dime. Daniel “ZhugeEX” Ahmad shared some of the highlights from this interview in English on Twitter. Notably, comments included Pokémon Unite’s potential relationship with esports.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Hoshino confirmed that Pokémon Unite will not have an esports focus, at least at launch. The developers intend for a wide range of players to be able to enjoy the game, regardless of their age or prior experience with the Pokémon series. As a result, it is only natural that their primary focus will be on creating an entertaining gameplay experience.
Nevertheless, Hoshino noted that an esports competition is not out of the realm of possibility for the Pokémon MOBA. If the player base is interested, it is quite possible for a grassroots competitive scene to emerge. Notably, Tencent Games subsidiary TiMi Studios is in charge of developing Pokémon Unite. Considering TiMi Studios’ previous work on competitive games like Call of Duty: Mobile, it’s not hard to imagine that fans will find competitive potential in Pokémon Unite.
The idea of a world championship also interested the Pokémon Unite team. The Pokémon Company already hosts competitions for the main series video games, the trading card game, and Pokkén Tournament DX. So if there is ample fan support, Pokémon Unite could plausibly join the Play! Pokémon esports circuit in the future.
Pokémon Unite beyond its esports potential
Beyond the discussion of Pokémon Unite’s esports potential, Hoshino revealed other bits of information about the upcoming game. He noted that the partnership with Tencent was crucial for expanding the Pokémon IP to a totally new genre. Interestingly, The Pokémon Company is marketing the game as a “strategic team battle game,” as opposed to “just another MOBA.”
Mobile MOBAs are already quite popular among young gamers in China and other parts of eastern Asia. Of course, fans will have the chance to play Pokémon Unite on the Switch or on other mobile devices. This will give players the option to choose between button controls or touchscreen controls.
Currently, there is no planned release date for Pokémon Unite. As it stands, it doesn’t seem the game is destined for overwhelmingly positive support. It will be interesting to see if there will be significant support for a Pokémon Unite esports scene.