Pokémon can now consider itself the most financially lucrative media franchise on the planet according to a newly compiled list that takes into account revenue from all mediums. Beginning life as a 1996 RPG for the Nintendo GameBoy, the Pokémon franchise quickly became a global phenomenon, with an anime series and trading card game proving just as popular as the video game releases, if not more so. Although Pokémon's initial popularity bubble would inevitably burst, the franchise retained a sizeable core of loyal fans and has continued to release games, cards, movies and television shows at a consistent rate.
In recent years, however, Pikachu and the gang have been propelled to the heady heights of mainstream stardom once again, largely thanks to the release of augmented reality mobile game, Pokémon GO. Of course, the days of people trudging around their local parks searching for rare monsters left almost as quickly as they arrived but nevertheless, the success of the app was enough to reignite the Pokémon franchise and a number of new titles are currently in the works such as Pokémon Let's Go! for the Nintendo Switch.
Pokémon's renewed popularity is now starting to tell financially according to a list recently published on Wikipedia, which draws from a variety of sources. The list takes into account a franchise's total revenue from all streams since the year it began and judges Pokémon to come out on top with $59.1 billion. The rest of the top five reads, in order: Hello Kitty, Star Wars, Mickey Mouse & Friends and Mario.
As with any Wikipedia entry, the information shouldn't be accepted at face value and the list does admit to making some educated estimates where actual revenue figures haven't been reported. With that said, the list pulls from a number of different articles on the site which themselves are based on figures from reputable and trustworthy sources. There's undoubtedly an element of guesswork going on but the comprehensive research here does, at the very least, provide a solid overview of the world's highest grossing media franchises.
Many will still be surprised, however, that Pokémon has managed to come out on top over Star Wars, Harry Potter and the Marvel Cinematic Universe and this could be at least partly due to two factors. First, although the Pokémon franchise certainly suffered a dip in popularity with Western and European audiences, it has remained a financial juggernaut in its native Japan for the past 20 years and indeed many of the list's entries are better known in the East than the West, demonstrating the influence of the Asian market. Secondly, Pokémon is one of the most consistent franchises on the list in terms of output frequency, regularly releasing new video games, trading card sets and hitting an impressive movie rate of one per year. Although other franchises may have been more popular during their best years, few have been as prolific as Pokémon.
Pokémon Let's Go! is released on November 16th for the Nintendo Switch.
- Detective Pikachu (2019) release date: May 10, 2019