Why making a Pokemon MOBA is a good move (even if people hate it)

Nintendo and Tencent’s Timi Studios have teamed up to make a brand new Pokemon MOBA and not everybody is happy about it. While some might be disappointed with the recent reveal of Pokemon Unite — understandably so, especially since we didn’t get a Pokemon Gold and Silver remake or Pokemon Let’s Go Johto — the creation of this new Pokemon game is ultimately a good move from Nintendo.

Pokemon Unite might not be a bad Pokemon game

Pokemon MOBA Pokemon Unite spawn

I’m sure that some of you may be disappointed that you didn’t get the game you might have been hoping for today. That’s okay, as there are a lot of remakes or new adventures that we would have liked to see. But take a step back and think how this will compare to other Pokemon side games.

ALSO: Smash Ultimate’s Min Min reveal surprises fans, upsets Twintelle stans

This obviously isn’t a core title like Pokemon Sword and Shield, but a hefty chunk of the franchise is based on side games. Pokemon SnapPokemon Puzzle LeaguePokemon Go, and others have taken the characters we all love and used them for new and interesting kinds of gameplay.

One should also consider the fact that Tencent and Timi Studios have a lot of experience making MOBAs and mobile games like this. Stuff like Arena of Valor is wildly popular in Asia, and adapting this style of gameplay to the Pokemon brand is a smart move.

Pokemon MOBA gameplay actually makes sense

Pokemon MOBA Pokemon Unite map

Visceral reactions aside, is a Pokemon MOBA really that bad of an idea? The Pokemon franchise and core gameplay is practically tailor-made for MOBAs. Think about it:

  • Every Pokemon has four moves.
  • There are a variety of different types — melee, ranged, support, etc.
  • Wild Pokemon make for perfect creeps
  • Dozens of items can add even more to the gameplay
  • Hundreds of Pokemon are available for future character releases

Consider that the idea of a Pokemon MOBA sounded like a very good idea just five years ago. Sure, Nintendo and Tencent might be a bit late to the game, but it can still work if they do it well.

Free-to-play might bring problems, though

Pokemon MOBA Pokemon Unite 5v5 Nintendo Switch Android iOS

Pokemon MOBA has a lot going for it, but there’s one problem to consider: it’s a free-to-play game.

Anyone who has played any of Nintendo’s mobile games knows that they haven’t been doing the best job with free-to-play mobile games. Their pricing is awful and horribly dated. There’s often a lack of new or substantial content. And, perhaps worst of all, many of the games — notably Mario Kart Tour and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp — are simply pale imitations of existing Nintendo titles.

On the flip side of the coin, third-party Nintendo mobile games like Pokemon Go haven’t been all that bad. Sure, they have some issues with their microtransactions pricing and content releases, but what free-to-play game doesn’t?

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, this Pokemon MOBA is also coming to the Nintendo Switch. The Switch could always use more free-to-play games, and Pokemon Unite doesn’t seem like the worst possible choice they could have made.

It will be some time before we see how Pokemon Unite plays out. It might be a terrible mess or it might be the next Dota 2 or League of Legends. Either way, it’s sure to make for an interesting new spin on the long-running Pokemon franchise.