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Pokemon's legendary art director Ken Sugimori (whose artwork is the last word on what Pokemon are supposed to look like) discussed the idea of monetising the series with Japanese site 4Gamer, reported and translated by Siliconera. “When it comes to business, the one thing I’ve always said ‘no!’ to is ‘the act of buying Pokémon with money,’” he said.
“That is something that has been said since the days [creator Satoshi] Tajiri was completely involved in everything."
“The reason being, is because it’s one of things that could ‘ruin the worldview’ of Pokémon. I believe the reason we don’t simply commercialize [Pokémon], is that it’s a way of protecting the brand, and for this purpose, we have the speciality company called The Pokémon Company. Therefore, suppose we sell a Pokémon for 100 yen, then we must prepare something that is worthy of that 100 yen, along with a reasonable consent for doing so.”
As a transmedia phenomenon, Pokemon makes much of its money through merchandise, the TCG, spin-offs, gatcha, anime licensing and other things. As far as the games are concerned, unique legendaries or special Pokemon tend to be given out for free at limited-time events rather than sold for hard cash. The cloud-based Pokemon Bank service will have a cost attached, however, when it rolls out in December.