Why is Bandai Namco Releasing Pokkén Tournament to Arcades First?

One of the most highly anticipated Pokémon spin-offs is coming in 2015 to Japan arcades. Wait, arcades? You mean, Nintendo and Bandai Namco’s latest partnership isn’t producing a console version? You got that right. Pokkén Tournamentwon’t even be available as quickly as many other upright arcade games for sale, at least, not yet. Bandai Namco’s producer Katsuhiro Harada has stated that the plan is to target arcades in Japan before they begin work Pokkén Tournament available to order for Nintendo Wii U, or any other console for that matter. What reasoning could they possibly have to be going in this direction first?

Test the Core Audience

Pokémon fans will have to wait to get their first taste of actual characters in full on fighting mode, unless they want to hop a plane to Japan, that is. The thinking behind the decision to focus on an arcade release first is based on how important fighting games are to Japan’s arcade culture. Arcades in Japan charge 100 yen (or $0.92 in U.S. dollars) per play. Gamers don’t want to waste money on a boring game, so Pokkén Tournament producers think they will get almost instant feedback on the success of their game. If it is a smash hit, Japanese gamers won’t even blink as they play round after round…but if the game is a dud, it will be abandoned quickly.

Also, even though a Pokémon fighting game has been highly anticipated for some time, Bandai Namco is seriously working at making Pokkén Tournament the next step in fighting arcade game technology, with easy accessibility, but still possessing great depth. Harada said, “The other reason, which is something I always say, is that it’s important for fighting games to at least succeed in arcades once.”

Basically, Pokkén Tournament creators just want to know what people think of their Pokémon-based fighting game, and they want to know fast. They also want their game to pass the Japanese arcade test - who wouldn’t?

Consoles Can Wait

Although the waiting game continues for Pokkén Tournament to arrive in North American gaming consoles or arcades, it also still remains to be seen if Bandai Namco and Nintendo will shy away from the family image that the Pokémon franchise has always portrayed. Will the arcade fighting game be more intense graphically and unfit for younger lovers of Pokémon? That and all other questions will have to be answered in 2015, or in years to come.