With the end of summer fast approaching here comes the final Pokémon anniversary of the season. Following Café Remix, Go and Unite, Pokémon Masters EX is the fourth mobile title in the franchise to have cause to celebrate this summer - with its fourth anniversary, no less.
Pokémon Masters was first announced in May 2019 and launched three months later on August 29 2019. More than five million trainers pre-registered and 10 million were playing within the first four days, ultimately leading to $33 million in revenue for developer DeNA in the game’s first month.
Arrival of an anniversary
The EX moniker was added to Masters at the time of its first anniversary, by which time more than 20 million people had downloaded the game and $75 million had been generated. Momentum faltered from there, however, with Masters taking another three years to double its install base. The game finally reached 50 million installs this May ahead of its first crossover with Nintendo Switch game Pokémon Legends Arceus.
In the recent Pokémon Presents, the first Scarlet and Violet character was announced as a shadow drop to the Masters gacha, with momentum rising again on collaboration between mobile and Switch. And now, with the fourth anniversary, DeNA is taking things back to the beginning with time-limited versions of original protagonist Red and rival Blue, now Neo Champions.
Leaf is rounding off the trio, mirroring the first anniversary of when the three appeared with Charizard, Blastoise and Venusaur. For the fourth anniversary, they come in new outfits with legendary Pokémon from the Game Boy era, Articuno, Zapdos and Moltres respectively.
After the fourth anniversary ends, it is unknown when these characters will next be available in the gacha. Other celebratory events include premium currency rewards, free gacha pulls, a limited-time side story focusing on Red, Blue and Leaf, and an update to the main story.
Another update reminiscent of the first anniversary is the introduction of EX Roles, giving certain Pokémon an extra power-up when using a particular move in battle; this follows 6 Star EX upgrades being introduced at the first anniversary, which was also the cause of the name change.
Overall, The Pokémon Company made $11.6 billion from its licensed products in 2022.