When the biggest fish in the sea mentions a bigger fish

So, Blizzard herd u liek Pokemons….

So they gave you some!

Introduced with the Mists of Pandaria expansion, the pet battle system allows you to collect, train, and then fight using various wild critters that you have poached with the use of a pokeball rather cheap looking wooden crate. This reference is rather obvious to the vast majority of people who use the internet on a regular basis, to such a degree that World of Warcraft wiki sites have rather succinct descriptions of the reference.

From WoWWiki:

The Pet Battle System that was introduced with the launch of World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria, is an obvious reference to the Pokémon media franchise.

From WoWpedia:

The Pet Battle System is an obvious shout out to the Pokémon series.

Outside of the pet battle system, there are a few other miscellaneous references, usually in the names of various achievements coming as quotes from Pokémon games or anime. But the descriptions of the pet battle being a reference to Pokémon is so short and so lacking in detail that it may as well have read simple as “Duh” and nothing would have been lost.

For World of Warcraft’s audience, basic knowledge of Pokémon is so ubiquitous that explaining the reference is a pointless waste of time for anyone contributing to either Wiki page. Both of the reference explanations use the word “obvious,” and it really is. Pokémon is an absolutely massive franchise, and some people that grew up with it are going to die before that franchise ends. It isn’t like WoW, it’s like McDonald’s. It was here when you showed up, it’ll be here after you leave, and everybody you know has heard about it. World of Warcraft is referencing something that absolutely dwarfs its own fiction. WoW is making a reference to 805 TV episodes, 17 full length movies, and all of these:

But developers at blizzard did not do this as a generic little reference for a quick laugh, or an Easter egg for players to take 10 minutes to find. They wanted you to be able to play Pokémon inside WoW, and now you can.

But the original Pokémon for gameboy included 151 total types of Pokémon, while WoW has 813 unique types according to WoWhead.com. There is inarguably more content in the pet battle system than that original game, with far more collectable pets all with their own abilities, and you can challenge other players to pet battle combat, in addition to certain NPCs and the capturable critters around the game world.

The pet battle system exists to mimic the gameplay of Pokémon, not to be a reference. It is a capitalization on the popularity of the near genre-defining franchise. The amount of effort put into creating this content must have been serious, unlike the naming of an achievement or NPC. It is there to be experienced, to be fully explored, and quite frankly to make subscribers start new characters and be forced to level them up while accumulating pets to rake in more money for blizzard.

World of Warcraft is a continually expanding game that strives to acquire it’s players complete and undivided attention. Like many MMOs, there is a currently ongoing Halloween event. There are Christmas events, Valentine’s day events. It comes down to WoW being a service that wants to fulfill all possible things players like to do and want to do. Over two dozen Pokémon games were made, and WoW is a game that thrives off the continual addition of new content that requires a great deal of time to experience. What better way to keep players interested than co-opting the second most successful game franchise of all time, but quadruple the grinding in true Blizzard form?

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8 Responses to When the biggest fish in the sea mentions a bigger fish

  1. larsondanger says:

    Lol at “quadruple the grinding.” But how does the “Pokemon” aspect of Warcraft work? Do pets gain experience from battles like Pokemon do? Also, do you think this is a shout out to the Pokemon franchise, or Blizzard subtly saying that they have taken over as the dominant game choice to point where they can do World of Warcraft AND Pokemon at the same time?


  2. exelsisxax says:

    I think that blizzard is very non-subtly saying that WoW is now all of the games, and that rather than buy anything else you can just subscribe for the rest of your life and miss nothing except horribly balanced FPS games.


    • kalihira says:

      I agree. Do you think that adding a Pokemon-esque mechanic will gain them more players? Some part of this is likely my nostalgia talking, but I feel like adding a “gimmicky” Pokemon simulacrum, Blizzard kind of missed the point, the “essence” of Pokemon, which is only partially based on it’s gameplay, which hasn’t evolved (pun sort of intended) too much in the last 18 or so years.


      • exelsisxax says:

        It definitely didn’t work. People can only stand so much, though that limit was pretty incredible when it came to WoW. The giant took a long time falling, but it is indeed falling.


  3. zucconi says:

    Unless they add a whole series of quests and a narrative involving pet battling, this seems to only mimic one aspect of Pokemon instead of actually imitate or reproduce it. As a big Pokemon fan, the narrative is more exciting and captivating than just collecting and battling your pets.


  4. elexiusmusick says:

    Your title is cool.

    I do agree that WoW is definitely milking the cash cow in this instance. I’ve never been a big Pokemon fan, but the kids I work with have been obsessed with it for years. I let them do my first pet battles for me, and they were riveted. They don’t call it “WoW pet battle minigame,” though; they call it “Pokemon.” The similarities are really strong there.

    Did you notice that cash-only pets in the store? Most of them are around $10.00. What is disturbing to me, though, is that you can purchase humanoid creatures. Right now in the store, you can buy a “Pandaren Monk” pet. It’s… Like a person, with a hat and other clothes, and who does martial arts. The concept of ownership in this instance is rather unsettling to me.


  5. pjm92 says:

    I ended up writing my blog post on the same allusion! wish i would’ve seen yours before hand! It would have helped me out, i love the points you made and the pics you added, very impressive.


  6. mjp99 says:

    How dare you exclude Pokemon Snap!

    I think WoW borrows greatly from what is a tried and true system – Pokemon was/is certainly a successful model but I don’t think Blizzard just said “hey, lets nab all the basic stuff from Pokemon’s dynamics and plop it in, of course it will be a success!” I think instead they identified two major deficiencies or areas they could build upon: the pet allure of the hunter class and the extended customizability/status it allows and also the lack of PvP on “normal” servers. The pet system in Mists of Pandaria (which itself seems a ridiculous cultural robbery) allows players who aren’t hunters to have pet companions (although can they be utilized in regular gameplay?) and allow an element of PvP battle to quest driven servers.


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