From its origin as a video game, Pokémon has branched out into a variety of business lines including a trading card game, animated movies and TV series, variety shows, merchandise, cross-promotion campaigns, events, and official shops.
Furthermore, through our international business efforts to broaden our fan base around the world and utilization of ever-evolving information technology, we are always working to come up with new and inventive ways for people to enjoy Pokémon.
The Pokémon Company also engages in relief efforts to bring joy to the children affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake and develops ICT (information and communications technology) learning tools to encourage children to learn on their own.
The foundation of the Pokémon universe is the Pokémon role-playing game series, first released in 1996. In these irresistible and fun-filled games, players enjoy collecting and training unique Pokémon characters, as well as exchanging them and battling with friends.
We have also released many other video games derived from the main series that offer new play experiences while staying true to the spirit of the original. The Pokémon Company works in collaboration with development companies to ensure that the games retain what makes Pokémon unique.
Launched in October 1996, the Pokémon Trading Card Game is the oldest Japanese trading card game. Players build decks of 60 cards (or half-decks of 30 cards) by choosing cards with a nearly infinite variety of abilities and effects one by one, and compete in one-on-one strategic battles with each other.
In trading card games, players interact with each other in a variety of ways. They move the game forward themselves, act as referee, and greet and shake hands before and after a game. This face-to-face communication is something that sets card games apart from video games.
The animated Pokémon TV series launched in April 1997 and continues to earn high ratings among children. Since then we have produced many other Pokémon-themed movies and TV shows, including theatrical films released every summer since July 1998 and even a Pokémon variety show that has been on the air since 2002.
The Pokémon Company provides quality control to ensure that our movies and TV shows are of the highest standards and accurately depict Pokémon characters. We are also involved in every step of production from the initial planning stage so that the movies and TV shows can be tied in with games, merchandise, and cross-promotion campaigns.
Products based on Pokémon characters made popular through our games, movies, and TV shows are released nearly every day. At the Pokémon Company, we review, supervise, and grant permission for Pokémon product, service, and event concepts and designs on a weekly basis. Over the years we have received hundreds of thousands of proposals, and we carefully review each one.
In our licensing and product development business, we consider our licensees to be important business partners. We require that licensees perform end-to-end quality control, and support them in creating products that are more unique and fun.
Pokémon Centers, the official Pokémon outlets, sell a wide range of original merchandise available only at those locations which we vary by season. Our imaginative Original Product Development Team is constantly coming up with out-of-the-box ideas to find new angles for each and every Pokémon character and develop products to delight our fans.
We host a wide range of events where Pokémon fans can gather to make new friends and experience things they have never seen before. These events delight players of all levels, from new to experienced, and include everything from video and trading card game tournaments to classes for beginners. We also hold events where visitors can meet popular Pokémon characters like Pikachu, bringing smiles to the faces of children and even adults!
Pokémon Centers have locations throughout Japan in Sapporo, Sendai, Ikebukuro, Minami-Funabashi, Yokohama, Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima, and Hakata. Since Pokémon Centers also appear in Pokémon video games, they bring the game world into the real world. Visitors can feel immersed in the world of Pokémon as they see and handle the Pokémon products. These outlets also function as Pokémon information centers, holding elaborate events and providing the latest Pokémon news.
In addition to Pokémon Centers, we also operate Pokémon Stores, a smaller store format that focuses its lineup on the most popular products. We are constantly opening new outlets in high-traffic areas like airports and sightseeing spots.
The Pokémon Company and its worldwide affiliates are always striving to increase Pokémon's popularity in markets around the world. Brand management is handled outside Asia by The Pokémon Company International (with offices in Seattle and London). In Korea, the brand is managed by Pokémon Korea, Inc., based in Seoul.
In Asia, The Pokémon Communications Company works with local agents, tailoring its approach to each region to reach local customers.
Countries differ in many ways, not only in language, but in culture and environment as well. The Pokémon Company works diligently to localize our games, animated movies and TV series, and other products to delight fans worldwide.
The Pokémon Company is involved in efforts beyond those presented here. In everything we do, we always strive to surprise fans with something fresh and new. One example is developing new ways to play with smartphones and tablets. We will continue to take on new challenges that transcend the boundaries of conventional business lines in developing new products and in promotional efforts, to ensure that Pokémon remains a favorite for years to come.
In 2011, we started the POKÉMON with YOU disaster relief project. Endorsed by companies involved with Pokémon, the project aims to bring smiles to the children affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake and make sure they do not have to worry.
In December that same year, we established Pokémon Center Tohoku as a hub for our efforts to bring joy to the children of the entire Tohoku region. All proceeds from the outlet go to relief efforts and events for the children of Tohoku.
Furthermore, in 2014 we released PokeTouch, an educational app for computers and tablets that is available to schools. With PokeTouch, children can learn the basics of computer and tablet operation on their own without need of a manual while having fun at the same time. The app helps children learn the alphabet and typing and also hone their skills in classifying and comparing information by making use of the diverse types and attributes of Pokémon characters.