With Pokemon selling 280 million copies to date, it’s no surprise that others wanted in on their market. From Monster Rancher to Dinosaur King and Spectrobes, it seems everyone from Temco to Namco Bandai and Disney wanted their own Pokemon competitor at one point.
And where there’s money to made, you just know EA won’t be far behind. So surprise surprise, EA had their own Pokemon inspired franchise in the works. Developed for handhelds and aided by Burnout developers Criterion, the titles were supposed to be a Western alternative to the Pokemon franchise that likely wasn’t going to be exclusive to Nintendo handhelds.
Here’s what ex developer Nic Watt said about the project:
Working with EA was a completely different experience [to working with a small studio] as we had the longest prototyping period I’ve had for any game I’ve worked on: it was amazing. EA wanted this game where the idea and it was going to be their Pokémon game. They didn’t have an RPG in the handheld space and they really wanted one. We did a lot of paper-based prototyping for the battle mechanics and even made a whole card game. Then we got the people from Criterion – who worked on Burnout and with the studio – in [to test it]. That’s the good thing when you have a company of 300 people, you can just ask “do you guys want to come in and play our game for the afternoon.” The team did find it hard because the prototyping was so long, and a lot of things got reset from time to time. But by the time I left, it still had not hit full production and I know that was really tough for a lot of people.
So yes, it definitely looks like EA had some big plans for this cancelled franchise. They even had the whole battle system and mechanics mapped out and everything!
Alas, it wasn’t to be. For whatever unknown reasons there were, EA quickly cancelled their attempt at a Pokemon competitor, and it seems the project hasn’t seen the light of day since. Disappointing, we know.
But what do you think? Could EA have made a series to topple the Pokemon franchise? And if so, what would this series have been like if it actually got released?