In the world of video games, MOBAs (multiplayer online battle arena) have been the dominant genre for years. The two most notable MOBAs, League of Legends and DotA 2, have paved the way for the E-Sports scene for the better part of a decade now. While some competitors have tried to cash in on the craze, most have failed. Games like Smite, Heroes of the Storm, and Paragon are great examples of well-made games which failed to capture a sizable share of the market.
Despite this high barrier to entry, Pokemon is one of the few companies who have not been dissuaded by the challenge. In 2020, Pokemon announced their plans to release a traditional format 5v5 MOBA titled Pokemon Unite. In July of 2021, the game finally saw the light of day when it was released on Nintendo’s proprietary Switch gaming system. As of yesterday, the game has been fully released to both iOS and Android mobile devices.
The game was developed in tandem with the Chinese conglomerate Tencent. The game offers full cross-platform support which means mobile users can compete against those playing on the Nintendo Switch. The game is free-to-play although Nintendo prefers to avoid this verbiage in favor of “free-to-start” — implying that the game is free to download but offers in-game purchases.
The complexity of traditional MOBAs have generally limited the player demographic to a more mature audience. Understandably, the graphics and mechanics in Pokemon Unite are quite juvenile so more seasoned players may find the game underwhelming. It’ll be interesting to see how Nintendo will leverage the mobile gaming platform to develop a compelling MOBA.