Players and fans alike are kept guessing in terms of Pokkén Tournament‘s long-term future, despite The Pokémon Company continuing to provide support to the competitive scene in the form of official tournaments and prize money. Pokkén Tournament has been met with complete silence in terms of updates, and even patches, since the release of the DLC fighter Blastoise in 2018.
Pokkén Tournament is the Pokémon fighting game series produced by Bandai Namco Entertainment, produced directly by the minds behind Tekken and Soul Caliber. Pokkén Tournament has been a staple competitive game at the Pokémon World Championships when the Wii U version launched in March 2017, joining the circuits of the VGC and TCG. Additionally, in September 2017, Pokkén Tournament DX was released as an enhanced port for the Nintendo Switch, and featured five new fighters and two additional DLC characters.
Recently however, Bandai Namco’s Katsuhiro Harada, a producer working on Pokkén Tournament and director of the popular Tekken fighting game series, established the details of his relationship between him, Nintendo, and the Pokémon Company. He writes about Pokkén Tournament’s great reception, but mentions that the decision to make a sequel title is not up to him.
We have a good relationship with Nintendo and Pokemon Co., Ltd., and POKKÉN has had a great response, so I would like to make it again.
But it's not what we decide, it's what they decide.https://t.co/U8mzxSpWsv
— Katsuhiro Harada (@Harada_TEKKEN) January 24, 2021
Although some may argue a sequel to the spin-off is not expected, given its unique upbringing as well as ambitious mechanics, Harada doesn’t consider it a simple experiment, hinting at his satisfaction with Pokkén Tournament‘s reception.
I don't think it's underrated, because it's familiar to fans. https://t.co/OxD7eywnqR
— Katsuhiro Harada (@Harada_TEKKEN) January 25, 2021
To explain the significance of the developer drought, this isn’t the first time the Pokkén Tournament scene had experienced a near complete silence of news and updates. Veteran players of the Wii U version of Pokkén Tournament can recall enduring at least a year of silence from developers during the time between 2016-2017.
During the runtime of the Wii U, the arcade version of the game had released four new fighters, Empoleon, Darkrai, Scizor and Croagunk, without releasing them on the Wii U console and no mentions or plans to do otherwise, leaving console players in the dark for months. Some began doubting if Pokkén Tournament was expected to be given continuous developer support in the first place, speculating the Wii U version as a spin-off opportunity to quickly discard afterwards.
The fate of Pokkén Tournament was left in limbo for a long time as the lack of response on the matter felt as if Pokkén Tournament could be on its way out the door, especially with the Nintendo Switch being announced to quickly take over as Nintendo’s primary console.
In response to this, in early 2017, the Pokkén Tournament scene banded together to write letters directly to The Pokémon Company Headquarters as a plea for any form of developer support to their much-loved fighting game. This effort was coined #OperationSynergy on Twitter, a campaign reminiscent of Operation Rainfall in 2011, a video game-oriented fan campaign founded to promote the release of Japan-exclusive titles, Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story, and Pandora’s Tower, to western audiences.
Operation Synergy consisted of multiple waves of physical letters from all kinds of players from within the scene, including but not limited to, detailed experiences and fond memories of the players met throughout tournament scene, hopes to the developers that Pokkén Tournament will continue to be supported as a game series, and requests for parity with the arcade version of the game.
#OperationSynergy Is a go!!
Happy to see this much love! ❤ pic.twitter.com/eICGf91UpS
— Shadowcat (@Shadowcat96) March 15, 2017
It is unknown, and also unlikely, if Operation Synergy had any effect on further development of Pokkén Tournament, but in June 2017, the developer silence was broken as Pokkén Tournament DX was announced as a port of Pokkén Tournament for the Nintendo Switch, featuring the highly requested arcade characters as well as an additional exclusive fighter in Decidueye. Not only that, in early 2018, the game continued to later receive developer support in the form of DLC characters in Aegislash and Blastoise coupled with a new cast of Support Pokemon, bringing good tidings to the future of Pokkén Tournament.
However, after the release of Blastoise on March 23rd, 2018, Pokkén Tournament, the great silence began again. To this day, no news, updates, or balance patches have been released or announced for Pokkén Tournament.
Additionally, the arcade version of the Pokkén Tournament completely ceased online operations on March 25, 2019, which may come off as a blow to the game’s roots and signalling a preparation to retire the series. However, it is worth mentioning that the arcade version at this point did not contain the three fighters exclusive to the Switch version, leaving the arcade version vastly outdated in terms of balance patches and character variety, making this theory unlikely.
Although the future of Pokkén Tournament DX is still very uncertain, Pokkén players can breathe a sigh of relief to hear something about the Pokkén series. Pokkén Tournament still continues to run its competitive circuit today under The Pokémon Company International, but long-time players are hoping for the possibility for the developers to improve upon the base Pokkén Tournament mechanics and breathe life into the scene.
It can be speculated that history could be repeated in terms of Pokkén Tournament‘s life cycle. Will we see another big announcement break the developer silence in the future? Are there truly no plans to continue Pokken Tournament‘s brief legacy? The answer lies within Nintendo and the Pokémon Company, as the prospects for any continuation of Pokkén Tournament is solely up to them.
Are you interested in a possible Pokkén Tournament sequel? Are there any features you would like to see in Pokkén Tournament? Let us know!
Edited by bobandbill and Mercury