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The Silent Protagonist avatar 12:14 PM on 07.04.2012  (server time)
Why a Pokémon MMO would be a bad idea.

Seems like every few Pokémon topics or so someone says something along the lines of "Nintendo should totally make Pokémon into an MMO, it would make loads of money!"

I'll admit it sounds cool on paper, but it's a terrible idea for Nintendo to pursue and it would suck out the soul of the series. The only kind of person who thinks it would be a cool idea has not played an MMO or Pokémon enough to consider what would be lost.

If we break Pokémon down, it is to handhelds what The Elder Scrolls is to consoles and PCs... minus the bugs plus competitive multiplayer. In terms of single player you're free to be whatever kind of pokémon trainer or ex-con that you wish to be. What's more is no one imposes a particular playstyle on you too much. A pokémon trainer has to mix it up for gym battles just as a mage might consider having a mace or a atronach summon as a fallback. Outside of that, save the world or don't, best the Elite Four or just breed critters for trade. The world is your oyster and you are seldom bound by time to do anything.

Stepping out of the games for a moment, talking to friends about Skyrim or Pokémon is often to relate a story of your adventures or what your team is rather than telling your friends what they should do. Then there's trading pokémon and downloading mods for TES on PC. The community exists to augment these single player experiences without imposing themselves on other players.

Ultimately these are games about taking pride in what you do. Freedom and pride are the emotional core of Pokémon and TES.

Yeah, another excuse to post my sexy Dovahkiin.

However, this is not what Pokémon is like competitively and anyone that knows MMOs is wary of the genre being applied to TES for similar reasons.

In competitive Pokémon multiplayer (as well as co-op multiplayer in other games) you can "do it wrong" and people do tend to impose upon you if you seek advice. Competitive Pokémon is about tiers, meta-game elements like EV training and picking the right TMs and HMs for the best pokémon. Brought into the context of an MMORPG, this would trickle down and seep into every corner of the game, even with co-op play and soloing. Gym battles, beauty pageants, breeding - it will all inevitably be tainted by and shoved through the lens of high level play and efficiency. This is because of a persistent internal community creating peer pressure. Now people are scared to be seen "doing it wrong" - they don't want to be seen as noobs.

This is why TES fans are wary of The Elder Scrolls Online. They know that "Gee, this enchanted bow is neat. Oh, look! Butterflies!" quality is going to be sucked out systematically by the community's need for efficacy in high level play. TES might be a match for MMOs, but not without giving up much of what makes it special.  You may not get to be that Battlemage in the way you were hoping. 

Just look at Final Fantasy's Red Mage. He's basically the same idea - white magic, black magic and a sword, but since he's got that white magic he's the "tag, you're it" healer of FFXI Online. Even though he has that sword and can cast fire magic in groups it's generally preferred he heals and buffs people instead. 

Fun. He might as well be a White Mage.

Yet this isn't meant to be oppressive, this is because efficient use of time is really important in an MMO, especially for high-end raids and even hunting rare monsters. Everyone wants to get in, get out, get stuff and go about their lives or a lack of one. Everyone needs to be on the same page and ready to go, but if Pokémon became an MMO the trainer who lovingly raised his full Charmander team might be crushed to find it is not wanted or accepted. He probably wouldn't even be invited to join a league after submitting an application, not to mention he's any Water Type's punching bag.

Yes, I did say "application." Joining an endgame guild is like finding a real job. Fun, right? Your life as an adventurer, reduced to a one page of highlights -   preferably one confirming to the needs of the guild.

The external social element of TES and Pokémon that makes them fun now is replaced by a persistent online community with a need for efficient time use and digs deep into the metagame. Freedom is replaced by conformity and pride is broken and subjugated. The Eevee you loved you'd later look at with disdain for not being ideal for EV training.

Let me reiterate - an MMO endgame and high level content strategy is not intended to be sinister or oppressive, just efficient. This has to be respected for group functions, even if it does act like a wet blanket to your personal ambitions and Charmanders. It is what it is.

But it's clearly not a good fit for all of Pokémon as it is already in the competitive multiplayer and not fun for everyone for the above reasons. TES players are chilly toward TESO  because Skyrim, well, it does the job and does it well without giving up that freedom and external social boost Pokémon single player also shares.

So let's take that thought about the Pokémon MMO and Torchic.

I mean, torch it. Yeah.

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