There is a game store in my neighborhood where every Sunday two dozen kids loudly and intensely play a card game—Pokémon. Kids are still playing Pokémon?
The numbers would suggest absolutely yes: The Pokémon Company generates $2 billion a year in revenue. Since its inception 20 years ago today, the franchise has made ¥4.6 trillion, which at the current exchange rate is just over $40 billion—which ranks Pokémon among the most successful franchises, roughly in line with the Star Wars franchise, which has brought in roughly $42 billion since the first movies came out in 1977.
J.C. Smith, the senior director of Consumer Marketing at The Pokémon Company International, explains that the company’s numbers aren’t in the news much because it’s privately held. “Pokémon is huge,” says Smith. “We're not a publicly traded company. For us, we talk to consumers, our fans, kids, a broad range of people. But we don't focus our efforts on the brand story overall, but it's an important one.”
Pokémon sales comes from its video games, card game, and also animation—all of which Smith says are growing. The company has sold 275 million video games and over 21 billion trading cards in more than 70 countries. For a game that started as a Gameboy game, that’s quite something.