Pokken Tournament is the arcade fighting game the Pokemon franchise has always needed, and it’s already gained a following since its release as an arcade game in 2015, with a subsequent release on the Wii U in 2016. Like other major fighting games, Pokken Tournament has a growing competitive scene, but in some recent tournaments The Pokemon Company has forced players to change their gaming alias.
Two notable pro Pokken Tournament players had to change their in-game name during the recent Community Effort Orlando tournament in Florida. Both are top competitors in the game. One goes by the alias “Suicune Master” and the other by “ThankSwalot.” Both aliases include official names of Pokemon: the water-based Suicune, and the poisonous Swalot.
ThankSwalot changed his name to “Thanks A Lot” for the tournament, and Suicune Master changed to “Sui Master” — not his first time having to use the altered alias. The Pokemon Company hasn’t actually defined a clear policy for players names in tournaments, and it has been sporadically enforced in competitions. ThankSwalot said a Pokemon employee told him the reason for the required change was because names couldn’t include Pokemon names, but the The Pokemon Company hasn’t officially confirmed this.
This type of action from game companies is often bad news for gamers trying to make a name for themselves. Since these gamers are largely known by their tags or aliases, having to change them for any reason can leave their followers confused about their identity, if not completely unaware of who they are after the switch. Matters are only made worse when there isn’t much clarity on the part of the company, as it can catch these gamers completely off guard, so they might not have time to alert their fans to the change.
While Pokken Tournament is a bit smaller in the overall competitive fighting game scene, it’s not going away soon. The game spread from arcades to the Wii U, and now it’s set to reach an even larger audience with an upcoming Pokken Tournament port to the Nintendo Switch. Getting clear rules in place will be important for gamers joining the competitive scene, and being able to lure such players is an important part of actually building that type of scene around the game.
It makes some sense The Pokemon Company may want to protect the use of its Pokemon names. Though the use by Pokken Tournament serves to promote them in some ways, players with bad reputations could also tarnish the Pokemon and company’s image. Still, there are clear benefits for The Pokemon Company clarifying its rules for official tournaments.
Pokken Tournament is available on the Wii U and Pokken Tournament DX is coming to the Nintendo Switch September 22nd.