Pokémon (Japanese: ポケモン Hepburn: Pokemon, English: ), also known as Pocket Monsters (ポケットモンスター) in Japan, is a media franchise managed by The Pokémon Company, a Japanese consortium between Nintendo, Game Freak, and Creatures. The franchise copyright is shared by all three companies, but Nintendo is the sole owner of the trademark. The franchise was created by Satoshi Tajiri in 1995, and is centered on fictional creatures called "Pokémon", which humans, known as Pokémon Trainers, catch and train to battle each other for sport. The English slogan for the franchise is "Gotta Catch 'Em All". Works within the franchise are set in the Pokémon universe.
The franchise began as Pokémon Red and Green (released outside of Japan as Pokémon Red and Blue), a pair of video games for the original Game Boy that were developed by Game Freak and published by Nintendo in February 1996. Pokémon has since gone on to become the highest-grossing media franchise of all time,with over $70 billion in revenue up until March 2017. The original video game series is the second best-selling video game franchise (behind Nintendo's Mario franchise) with more than 300 million copies sold and over 800 million mobile downloads.In addition, the Pokémon franchise includes the world's top-selling toy brand,the top-selling trading card game with over 25.7 billion cards sold, an anime television series that has become the most successful video game adaptation with over 20 seasons and 1,000 episodes in 124 countries, as well as an anime film series, a live-action film, books, manga comics, music, and merchandise. The franchise is also represented in other Nintendo media, such as the Super Smash Bros. series.
In November 2005, 4Kids Entertainment, which had managed the non-game related licensing of Pokémon, announced that it had agreed not to renew the Pokémon representation agreement. The Pokémon Company International oversees all Pokémon licensing outside Asia. The franchise celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2006. In 2016, The Pokémon Company celebrated Pokémon's 20th anniversary by airing an ad during Super Bowl 50 in January, issuing re-releases of Pokémon Red and Blue and the 1998 Game Boy game Pokémon Yellow as downloads for the Nintendo 3DS in February, and redesigning the way the games are played. The mobile augmented reality game Pokémon Go was released in July. The latest games in the main series, Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee!, were released worldwide on the Nintendo Switch on November 16, 2018. A live-action film adaptation based on Detective Pikachu began production in January 2018, and is set to release in 2019.
The name Pokémon is the romanized contraction of the Japanese brand Pocket Monsters (ポケットモンスター Poketto Monsutā). The term "Pokémon", in addition to referring to the Pokémon franchise itself, also collectively refers to the 809 fictional species that have made appearances in Pokémon media as of the release of the seventh generation titles Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee! "Pokémon" is identical in the singular and plural, as is each individual species name; it is grammatically correct to say "one Pokémon" and "many Pokémon", as well as "one Pikachu" and "many Pikachu".
Pokémon executive director Satoshi Tajiri first thought of Pokémon, albeit with a different concept and name, around 1989, when the Game Boy was released. The concept of the Pokémon universe, in both the video games and the general fictional world of Pokémon, stems from the hobby of insect collecting, a popular pastime which Tajiri enjoyed as a child.Players are designated as Pokémon Trainers and have three general goals: to complete the regional Pokédex by collecting all of the available Pokémon species found in the fictional region where a game takes place, to complete the national Pokédex by transferring Pokémon from other regions, and to train a team of powerful Pokémon from those they have caught to compete against teams owned by other Trainers so they may eventually win the Pokémon League and become the regional Champion. These themes of collecting, training, and battling are present in almost every version of the Pokémon franchise, including the video games, the anime and manga series, and the Pokémon Trading Card Game.
In most incarnations of the Pokémon universe, a Trainer who encounters a wild Pokémon is able to capture that Pokémon by throwing a specially designed, mass-producible spherical tool called a Poké Ball at it. If the Pokémon is unable to escape the confines of the Poké Ball, it is considered to be under the ownership of that Trainer. Afterwards, it will obey whatever commands it receives from its new Trainer, unless the Trainer demonstrates such a lack of experience that the Pokémon would rather act on its own accord. Trainers can send out any of their Pokémon to wage non-lethal battles against other Pokémon; if the opposing Pokémon is wild, the Trainer can capture that Pokémon with a Poké Ball, increasing their collection of creatures. In Pokémon Go, and in Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee!, wild Pokémon encountered by players can be caught in Poké Balls, but generally cannot be battled. Pokémon already owned by other Trainers cannot be captured, except under special circumstances in certain side games. If a Pokémon fully defeats an opponent in battle so that the opponent is knocked out ("faints"), the winning Pokémon gains experience points and may level up. Beginning with Pokémon X and Y, experience points are also gained from catching Pokémon in Poké Balls. When leveling up, the Pokémon's battling aptitude statistics ("stats, such as Attack and Speed") increase. At certain levels, the Pokémon may also learn new moves, which are techniques used in battle. In addition, many species of Pokémon can undergo a form of metamorphosis and transform into a similar but stronger species of Pokémon, a process called evolution.
In the main series, each game's single-player mode requires the Trainer to raise a team of Pokémon to defeat many non-player character (NPC) Trainers and their Pokémon. Each game lays out a somewhat linear path through a specific region of the Pokémon world for the Trainer to journey through, completing events and battling opponents along the way (including foiling the plans of an 'evil' team of Pokémon Trainers who serve as antagonists to the player). Excluding Pokémon Sun and Moon and Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, the games feature eight powerful Trainers, referred to as Gym Leaders, that the Trainer must defeat in order to progress. As a reward, the Trainer receives a Gym Badge, and once all eight badges are collected, the Trainer is eligible to challenge the region's Pokémon League, where four talented trainers (referred to collectively as the "Elite Four") challenge the Trainer to four Pokémon battles in succession. If the trainer can overcome this gauntlet, they must challenge the Regional Champion, the master Trainer who had previously defeated the Elite Four. Any Trainer who wins this last battle becomes the new champion.