POKÉMON UNITE Is a New Free-to-Play Multiplayer Online Battle Arena

The Pokémon Company held another Pokémon Presents broadcast on Wednesday morning. This time they announced an all-new multiplayer game. Developed with Tencent Games subsidiary TiMi Studios, Pokémon Unite is a five-on-five MOBA (or “team-based battle game”) for Nintendo Switch and mobile devices.

Players will each take on the role of a different Pokémon and work together to capture scoring areas, “catch wild Pokémon,” and beat their opponents’ score by the end. Pokémon will evolve and learn new moves as you level up during the battle. And there’s room for player choice and customization.

The Pokémon Presents livestream also showcased gameplay from the project. Ten players teamed up for a quick five-on-five battle demonstration. The game’s clean, simple art style resembles that of Pokémon Sword and Shield. However, the mechanics are more familiar to players of League of Legends, Smite, or similar MOBAs. This is a pretty fresh take on the Pokémon IP; it’ll be interesting to see how players embrace it.

The game’s developers are calling it a “free-to-start” title, as opposed to the more common “free-to-play” label. This is a deliberate choice on the part of Nintendo, dating back roughly half a decade.

Pokémon Unite demonstration

The Pokémon Company

“We do not want to use the ‘free-to-play’ terminology that implies that you can play games free of charge,” the late former Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata explained in 2015. “Instead, we use the term ‘free-to-start,’ as this term more aptly describes that at the beginning you can start to play for free. And the fact of the matter is, game software with a one-time payment system has not been doing a great job on smart devices.”

Pokémon Unite will support cross-play between Switch and mobile users. Last week, The Pokémon Company also announced a sequel to the 1999 classic Pokémon Snap, a tooth-brushing app, and a puzzle game called Pokémon Café Mix.

Featured Image: The Pokémon Company

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