游戏邦在:
杂志专栏:
gamerboom.com订阅到鲜果订阅到抓虾google reader订阅到有道订阅到QQ邮箱订阅到帮看

精灵宝可梦是如何发展成世界顶级的游戏IP

发布时间:2021-03-26 08:53:22 Tags:,

精灵宝可梦是如何发展成世界顶级的游戏IP

原作者:James Batchelor 译者:Willow Wu

在2月26日举行的宝可梦发布会上,主办方用一段五分钟的视频完美地展示了这一IP如今所达到规模之大。

从1996年发行的《精灵宝可梦红·绿》开始,这段节奏紧凑的蒙太奇视频无缝列出了过去25年里皮卡丘和他的伙伴们尝试过的各种娱乐产品、周边商品、活动和体验。

宝可梦系列是品牌管理的大师级典范——这完全是基于事实的,不是什么故作谦虚的夸赞。宝可梦能成为世界顶级的游戏IP,主要原因就在于此。

要量化宝可梦的成功是非常困难的。过去几年,该系列游戏、电影、商品等创造的总收益估计在900亿美元到1000亿美元之间,由于几年前宝可梦公司决定不再通过网站公布系列产品的总收益,这一数字就变得更加难以估算了。

据Ampere Analysis游戏分析部门负责人Piers Harding-Rolls称,最后一次公布数据是在2017年3月,总收益已经超过6万亿日元(游戏邦注562亿美元)——这时候《精灵宝可梦GO》发行还不到一年,破纪录的真人电影《大侦探皮卡丘》还没上映。

Harding-Rolls表示:“如果6万亿日元这个数字是比较精确的,那么考虑到所有的IP业务活动,这四年的增加销售额将会让这个总数变得非常可观。但在我看来,即使是考虑到了这一系列活动,1000亿美元这个数字还是太大了,不太现实。尽管如此,这些数字还是让宝可梦成为了规模最大的娱乐IP之一。”

总收益超过500亿美元的IP似乎还有星球大战、米老鼠、小熊维尼和周边产品大亨Hello Kitty。但它们的起源都不在游戏,所以以游戏为中心的第一IP非宝可梦莫属。

Pokemon Go(from xzxyxx)

Pokemon Go(from xzxyxx)

但是Harding-Rolls和Midia Research高级分析师都用了“娱乐IP”这种说法,而不是“游戏IP”。从一开始,精灵宝可梦的目标就不仅仅是游戏,它衍生出了动漫、电影、书籍、玩具、点心、饮料,甚至还有主题大型客机。真的,只要你看一下那个五分钟的视频就能感受到这个IP的涉猎范围之广。

Severin说“精灵宝可梦是一个非常成功跨领域娱乐品牌,除了游戏消费之外,还拥有跨世代的文化影响力和极为成功的粉丝经济。精灵宝可梦一直在努力做的就是用故事、角色和游戏机制吸引更多粉丝,让粉丝们为这个IP加大投入,而且他们也愿意这么做。Sevrin提到了Midia 2020年第四季度的消费者调查结果,报告显示虽然宝可梦游戏的用户渗透率只有6%,相当于马里奥游戏的一半,但这些玩家每月在相关游戏、音乐、视频上可能会花费5美元或更多,而马里奥的粉丝就没有这么热情。

“宝可梦品牌的成功全球化也是非常值得一说的,这是多个因素的共同作用,” Harding-Rolls说道。“包括宝可梦概念的多元文化吸引力、从20世纪80年代末开始在全球兴起的日式文化和游戏热潮,以及任天堂品牌的成功——尤其是在对美国市场影响。”

Severin补充说宝可梦公司会抓时机也是一个因素:“他们总是能在正确的时间拓展到正确的平台和行业——从桌游交换卡牌,到电视播放的早间动画片,到《精灵宝可梦GO》及其针对疫情背景做出的快速调整。它们能够在正确的时间、正确的背景下出现在正确的娱乐平台上,这是非常了不起的。”

宝可梦帝国

宝可梦的成功不仅是因为它的跨领域覆盖,还是因为公司能够很好地联动各个领域的产品。就比如说,动画有一集是围绕着鲤鱼王竞赛展开的——这就是跟手游《跳跃吧!鲤鱼王》的联动。买了宝可梦新电影预售票的粉丝可以在《宝可梦:剑/盾》中领取一只新的传奇宝可梦和一只闪闪的时拉比。事实上,电影上映——无论是《大侦探皮卡丘》还是每年的剧场版动画——在《精灵宝可梦GO》《宝可梦大师》和TCG游戏中都会出现关联活动。

《精灵宝可梦》的内容创作者Marti Bennett表示:“整个系列都是交织在一起的,因此你可以按照自己喜欢的方式来享受宝可梦的这些内容,不用担心自己会错过其它领域的什么东西。”

“宝可梦的世界总是会有新的事件发生,你很难不去关注的。这一系列很好地保持了新手友好的特点,能够持续吸引新用户,你从Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee等其它很多产品都可以感受到。其它长寿的IP似乎对新用户都不算特别友好。”

接触宝可梦IP的方式如此之多,这确实突显出了宝可梦已经成为一个面面俱到的娱乐IP——以至于有些粉丝可能已经忘记了它的起源。

“我真的遇到过这样的人,他们不知道还有宝可梦电子游戏存在,只是玩牌,因为他们的学生时代就是这样的,”Bennett说道。“电子游戏圈或许有点像是个回音室,认为游戏依然是处于核心位置的。

“但在过去的一年中,尤其是有了知名网红的参与,宝可梦TCG的规模或许会超过现在的电子游戏规模。就比如说我的搭档Joe,他长期运营宝可梦网站Serebii.net,在过去的一个星期里就25周年纪念日接受了多次采访,但主要都是在谈论集换式卡牌游戏。现在没有人想讨论电子游戏。”

即便如此,分析人士认为游戏未来仍然是宝可梦系列非常重要的一块领域,Harding-Rolls称游戏是“系列发展背后的重要驱动力。”毕竟,这些出现在卡牌上的宝可梦最初是起源于电子游戏的,动画中的大部分事件、角色和地点同样也是如此。

Severin补充说随着游戏成为其它娱乐/商业产品的分销渠道,它的地位会变得越来越重要,尤其是考虑到消费者会在虚拟环境中花费更多时间,就比如《精灵宝可梦GO》。

话虽如此,但在我看来,这些年宝可梦发展的主要驱动力跟媒介并没有多大关系,而是基于任务结构的使用,再结合惹人喜爱的角色以及竞争/探索元素,这无疑就是游戏的魅力。所有产品的主线都是一样的设定前提:一个小男孩或女孩得到一只宝可梦,然后开启旅程,目的就是证明自己是最好的训练师,同时还要努力捕捉沿途出现的所有宝可梦并加以分类。就如宣传语所说的:“把它们全部收服”(Gotta catch ‘em all)。这是一个恒久不变的挑战,不同于其它游戏常见的打败坏人&拯救世界设定。

“不同的产品形式只是为那些娱乐和文化概念提供载体,”Severin继续说道。“格式的关键作用是帮助团队将宝可梦的总体叙事和独特设定以适合的方式呈现给不同年龄段的人。”

宝可梦世代

宝可梦系列最大的优势可能就是跨时代的吸引力。早在上世纪90年代末它就征服了各个年龄段的用户,让他们成为了宝可梦的铁杆粉丝,而且还在不断吸引新一代的用户。

根据Midia第四季度的调查,65%的宝可梦玩家是25~44年龄段的,几乎可以肯定游戏的主力军就是那些古早粉丝以及那些被怀旧主义吸引过来的人。但是16~24年龄段的粉丝也占了25%——早期宝可梦游戏发行时,他们还太小。但是这些年他们自己找到了接触途径,爱上了这个IP。而老年玩家就不是那么好争取的了——45岁至54岁的宝可梦玩家只占了4%,55岁以上的只有6%。

“下一个十年便是对宝可梦跨世代吸引力的真正考验,”Severin说道。

这可不是轻描淡写。宝可梦公司发现他们现在的状态其实并不安逸,要迎合铁杆粉丝的需求可能会阻碍IP后续的发展。主线游戏的结构仍然保持不变,游戏玩法上的尝试都留给了衍生产品。就比如他们只敢在《宝可梦传说:阿尔宙斯》中尝试开放世界玩法,而在《剑/盾》中只有某些区域是开放世界。

核心配方的任何大改都会引发狂热粉丝的强烈抗议——你看看Game Freak,因为《剑/盾》没有包含旧世代宝可梦便遭到了大量粉丝抵制。但Bennett还是希望粉丝们能够向前看,让宝可梦系列发展得更好,获得更多新用户。

“粉丝们在这些游戏的陪伴下长大,但大家不要忘了,宝可梦游戏的目标用户是年纪较小的群体,”她说。“很多人觉得难以接受。所以宝可梦公司必须权衡怎么让老玩家和年轻玩家(或者说那些刚接触这一系列的玩家)都满意。”

Severin指出宝可梦对不同世代的吸引方式是不同的,就算粉丝年龄增长,这一系列对他们的吸引力也不会减少。

“对于年龄最小的玩家群体来说,宝可梦游戏就是一种趣味盎然的探索工具,让他们了解对与错、竞争和乐趣的概念,”他说道。“随着用户年龄的增长,他们可以深入到角色的情感层面,产生共鸣,还可以围绕着共同的话题与同龄人展开竞争和社交。

“而年龄相对较大的群体——也就是OG宝可梦粉丝,他们之中的大多数人已经为人父母了,宝可梦在尝试怎么将复古情怀和适宜性结合在一起。就比如《精灵宝可梦GO》,带着职场年轻人、父母们到处走动,这群人如今越来越重视保持健康&锻炼了。

“老一代人想要把品牌介绍给新生一代,宝可梦公司帮助他们实现了。宝可梦节日活动是另一个维系老少同乐的纽带,无论是在线上还是线下,我们都希望它能够继续壮大。”

下一个25年

宝可梦这个IP未来将会如何发展?上周的直播显示,游戏支柱业务依然发展良好,人们对《宝可梦:晶灿钻石》《宝可梦:明亮珍珠》重制以及开放世界新作《宝可梦传说:阿尔宙斯》有热烈反响。动画会继续做下去,电影方面也是,《大侦探皮卡丘》电影的续集甚至在第一部上映之前就宣布了。

但分析人士认为,实验、突破传统设计模式才是关键,Harding-Rolls指出《精灵宝可梦GO》是该系列游戏“一次非常成功的再创造”,将IP带入了以移动设备为优先的市场。

随着越来越多的宝可梦手游获得成功——包括《宝可梦大师》《宝可梦 Café Mix》,我们可以感受到这家公司对服务型的游戏逐渐敞开了怀抱,而授权腾讯开发的MOBA游戏Pokémon Unite则是所有这些努力中不可忽视的一步,让宝可梦这个IP进入了《英雄联盟》、DOTA 2所在的圈子。

Severin认为Pokémon最终还是会继续使用这25年来的制胜策略:建立、扩大粉丝群体,为适合的娱乐领域部署适合的产品,只会在正确的时机下对宝可梦宇宙做出调整。

“如果是这样的话,我们预计宝可梦会在跨领域娱乐方面走得更远、更好,”他说。“音乐领域也包括在内,因为《精灵宝可梦GO》是很多歌单制作者的灵感来源,衍生了类似Pokémon Festival这样的线上/线下家庭活动,此外,通过电子竞技,宝可梦与体育世界的距离也越来越近了。

他补充说:“在未来,我希望这些角色能在各个娱乐领域更多表现,每一个都能像皮卡丘一样成为家喻户晓的明星。《英雄联盟》的虚拟乐队K/DA受到了很多玩家的热烈追捧,那么某些宝可梦会不会也被赋予音乐生涯呢?或许我们能看到超梦的脱口秀节目登上Netflix?或许能做一部关于世界顶级宝可梦训练师的真人秀?”

Harding-Rolls总结说:“《精灵宝可梦GO》的商业成功让公司能够更大胆地去尝试新的系列产品策略。除了转向新的类型,我想我们可能还会看到新的宝可梦电影、可订阅的电视剧集,还有主题公园。如果这些新游戏成功了,那么这些服务型游戏将会为宝可梦公司带来持续、可观的收益增长。在电竞领域,我认为宝可梦还有尚未发掘的机会,如果日后他们在这一领域获得突破,我想我是不会惊讶的。”

与此同时,宝可梦粉丝们有很多东西可以期待——包括4月份的《New 宝可梦随乐拍》以及今年晚些时候的重制版《宝可梦:晶灿钻石》《宝可梦:明亮珍珠》——每一部游戏、电影和电视剧都为新用户创造了一个接触IP的机会。

本文由游戏邦编译,转载请注明来源,或咨询微信zhengjintiao

The five-minute intro to last week’s Pokémon Presents broadcast perfectly demonstrated the sheer scale of the franchise as it stands today.

Starting with the release of the original Pokémon Red and Green in Japan on February 27th, 1996, the rapid-fire montage breathlessly listed the myriad forms of entertainment, merchandise, event and experience that Pikachu and his pals have dipped their toes/paws/claws into over the past 25 years.

More than just a semi-humble brag about how broad the series has become, it is a masterclass in brand management and the primary reason Pokémon has become one of the biggest video games franchises in the world.

Quantifying Pokémon’s success is tricky. Estimates from the past few years for lifetime revenues generated by games, movies, merchandise and more range from $90 billion to $100 billion, made harder to gauge since The Pokémon Company stopped reporting the franchise’s total value via its website a few years back.

According to Ampere Analysis’ head of gams research Piers Harding-Rolls, the last reported figure was over ¥6 trillion ($56.2 billion) in March 2017 — less than a year after the launch of Pokémon Go and Sun/Moon, and two years ahead of the record-breaking Detective Pikachu live action film.

“If we believe the ¥6 trillion figure is as accurate as it can be, then four years of additional sales will have added a good amount to this total considering all the franchise activity,” says Harding-Rolls. “But, in my opinion, $100 billion looks too large even taking all this into account. Still, the numbers do put the Pokémon franchise near the top of the biggest entertainment franchises.”

Only four other franchises appear to have passed $50 billion in terms of value: Star Wars, Mickey Mouse, Winnie-The-Pooh and merchandise machine Hello Kitty. None of these have their origins in video games, making Pokémon the biggest games-centric franchise in the world.

But the key term both Harding-Rolls and Midia Research senior analyst Karol Severin use is “entertainment franchise” rather than “games.” From the beginning, Pokémon has been more than just the video games at its heart, spawning anime series, movies, books, toys, apparel, food and drinks products — even passenger jet planes. Again, just watch that opening montage for a glimpse at the full breadth of Pokémon.

“Pokémon has managed to become a cross-entertainment brand, build cross-generational cultural impact and monetise fandom, in addition to just games consumption,” says Severin. “While the efforts of other games franchises often revolve around monetising the consumption of titles, Pokémon has been busy building up and monetising fandom of its story, characters and mechanics.”

And that fandom is willing to invest heavily in the franchise. Sevrin points to the results of Midia’s Q4 2020 consumer survey, which shows that while Pokémon games had only half the penetration rate of Mario — 6% of respondents played Pokémon compared to 12% — those players are more likely to spend $5 or more per month on related games, music, video and more than Mario’s fans.

“It’s also worth mentioning the successful globalisation of the brand due to a combination of factors,” says Harding-Rolls. “These include the multi-cultural appeal of the Pokémon concept, the global trend from the late 1980s to embrace Japanese culture and gaming products, and alignment to the Nintendo brand and its success particularly in the US.”

Severin adds that The Pokémon Company’s timing is also a factor: “It has always expanded into the right platforms and sectors at the right time – from tabletop trading cards, through morning cartoons on linear TV, to Pokémon Go and its quick pandemic adjustment for indoor life. Pokémon’s ability to be on the right entertainment platforms, in the right context, at the right time has been remarkable.”

The Pokémon Empire

It’s not just Pokémon’s presence across the spectrum of entertainment, but also the company’s ability to link them all together. For example, one episode of the anime centres around a Magikarp competition — a nod to mobile title Magikarp Jump. Fans who pre-ordered tickets for the latest Pokémon movie received a new legendary monster and a shiny version of Celebi for Sword and Shield. In fact, movie releases — whether it’s Detective Pikachu or the annual feature-length anime films — are often celebrated with events in Pokémon Go, Pokémon Masters and the trading card game.

“The whole series just ties in naturally to other areas of itself, so you can enjoy the series in your preferred way without fear of missing out,” says Marti Bennett, a Pokémon content creator whose channel Virtually Marti has more than 8,600 subscribers.

“There’s always something going on with Pokémon — it’s hard to escape. The franchise also does a fantastic job of bringing in the new audience and keeping things beginner-friendly, as can be seen with Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee and various products to get people started with the trading card game. Other franchises that have been going a long time can seem incredibly daunting to approach.”

The sheer number of entry points really underlines how Pokémon has become an entertainment franchise — to the point where some fans may be oblivious to its origins.

“I’ve met people that genuinely didn’t know there was a video game and it was all about the cards because that’s what they remember from school,” says Bennett. “The video game circle might be a bit of an echo chamber, feeling like the game is still the ‘central’ thing.

“But over the last year, especially with big influencer name involvement, the Pokémon TCG could potentially be bigger than the video game right now. For example, my partner Joe — who runs [long-running Pokémon website] Serebii.net — has been interviewed many times in the past week regarding the 25th anniversary, but it’s heavily talking about the Pokemon TCG. No one wants to talk about the video games right now.”

Even so, analysts believe the games will remain vital to Pokémon’s future, with Harding-Rolls dubbing them the “driving force behind much of the franchise.” After all, the monsters featured in the trading cards originate from the video games, as do most of the events, characters and locations featured in the anime.

Severin adds that the games’ importance will grow as they become distribution channels for other forms of entertainment and commerce, especially as consumers spend more time in digital environments like Pokémon Go.

“Having said that, in my opinion the key drivers of Pokémon’s momentum over time are less connected to the medium — game versus video versus branded lunchboxes — and instead revolve around the use of one of the seven timeless story structures — quests — combined with beloved appealing characters and competitive/explorative aspects.”

This is undoubtedly part of the game’s appeal. Each mainline entry follows the same premise: a young boy or girl is given a Pokémon and sets out on a journey to prove themselves as the best trainer, as well as trying to catch and catalogue every Pokémon in existence. As the slogan says, you gotta catch ‘em all. It’s a timeless challenge, one that offers an alternative to the common video game narrative of beat the baddie and save the world.

“The various formats merely serve as channels to feed those entertainment and cultural concepts through,” continues Severin. “The key role of formats is to help contextualise Pokémon’s overarching narrative and characteristics to each generation in the right way.”

Pokémon Generations

This might be Pokémon’s biggest strength: its cross-generational appeal. The game won over players of all ages back in the late ’90s and has not only done an admirable job of retaining them, but also continues to draw in new generations along the way.

According to Midia’s Q4 survey, 65% of Pokémon players are aged 25 to 44 — almost certainly driven primarily by the series’ original fans and those enticed back via nostalgia. But a full quarter are ages 16 to 24 — players who would have been too young for the early games, but have found their own way into the franchise over the years. Pokémon has more trouble winning over older generations, with only 4% of players aged 45 to 54 and 6% over 55.

“The next decade will be the true test of Pokémon’s cross-generational appeal,” says Severin.

That’s no understatement. The Pokémon Company finds itself in a precarious position where catering to the needs of its most loyal fans can potentially prevent the franchise from evolving in a way that broadens its appeal. The structure of the mainline games remains relatively untouched, any experimentations with gameplay saved for spin-offs. Even the shift towards open-world gameplay has been reserved for Pokémon Legends, while it was restricted to certain areas in Sword and Shield.

Any dramatic changes to that core formula can be met with a fierce outcry from the most avid fans — just look at the backlash series developer Game Freak faced when it was revealed Sword and Shield wouldn’t include every previous Pokémon. But Bennett hopes this is something the fanbase can move past in order for the series to reach new audiences.

“While Pokémon fans get older and grow up with the games, it’s important to remember, it is a game aimed at a younger audience,” she says. “A lot of people find that hard to accept. So Pokémon has to get a balance of pleasing the older fan, as well as younger fans or those new to the series.”

Severin notes that Pokémon appeals to different generations on a variety of levels, and this has helped the series retain its appeal as fans grow older.

“For the youngest [players], Pokémon was an engaging and stimulating way of exploring concepts of right and wrong, competition and fun,” he says. “As audiences aged, they could dive into the emotional side of characters and relate, as well as compete and socialize over a common topic with peers.

“For older generations — the OG Pokémon fans, many of whom now are parents themselves — Pokémon managed to tap into the right mix of nostalgia and appropriateness. Pokémon Go, for example, encourages movement for young professionals and parents, who consider health and fitness increasingly important.

“Pokémon did the right things for the older generation to want to introduce the brand to new generations. Pokémon festivals are another cross-generational connector which we expect to grow, be it in real life or virtually.”

The Next 25 Years

So what’s next for Pokémon? The broadcast last week showed the games pillar to be in rude health, with a warm reception for the announcement of both the Diamond and Pearl remakes and open-world outing Pokémon Legends. The anime series continues, as do the associated movies, and a sequel to the Detective Pikachu movie was announced before the original had even hit screens.

But it’s the experiments and less traditional games that analysts believe hold the key, with Harding-Rolls pointing to Pokémon Go as a “hugely successful reinvention” of the franchise, bringing the IP into mobile-first markets that haven’t previously been exposed to the console games.

With the continued success of Pokémon on mobile, including Masters and Café Mix, the company is opening itself to more service-based games — and a crucial step in these efforts will be the Tencent-developed MOBA Pokémon Unite, taking the franchise into the same space as League of Legends and DOTA 2.

Severin believes Pokémon will ultimately continue with the winning strategy it has already employed for the past quarter of a century: building and fostering fandom, deploying the right products for the right entertainment channels, and only choosing to change aspects of the Pokémon universe at the right time.

“In doing so, we expect Pokémon to keep reaching deeper and wider across entertainment,” he says. “That includes music, since Pokémon Go has inspired thousands of music streaming playlists, live and virtual family events like Pokémon Festival, as well as edging closer to the world of sport via esports.

He adds: “In the future, I would like to see the characters doing more across entertainment, and each aiming for a Pikachu-like celebrity status. The success of League of Legends’ virtual band K/DA has been remarkable. Are certain Pokémon characters well equipped to have music careers? Could we see Mewtwo have a stand-up comedy special on Netflix? Is there a reality show angle out there covering the lives of the best Pokémon trainers in the world?”

Harding-Rolls concludes: “The ongoing commercial success of Pokémon Go allows the company to be more experimental with its franchise product strategies. Aside from a shift into new genres, I think we’ll see continued use of Pokémon IP in new movies, perhaps a TV series for subscription video services, and in theme parks. If the new games are successful, then their potential as service-based games should deliver consistent revenue growth. I think there is an untapped opportunity in Pokémon-related esports, so I wouldn’t be surprised if this scene evolves.”

In the meantime, Pokémon fans have plenty to look forward to — including New Pokémon Snap in April and those Diamond and Pearl remakes later this year — with each game, movie and TV series offering a new entry point for untapped audiences.

(source: gamesindustry.biz )


下一篇: