Is Pokemon Go Against The Morals Of The Pokemon Franchise?

Since I last wrote about Pokemon Go, the game has greatly improved. The developers have fixed many of the minor bugs and major ones too – the game runs smoothly, the navigation system works, there are fun events, and new Pokemon have been released. When I have the time, I still enjoy playing Pokemon Go. However, there is one thing that bothers me, but it isn’t related to any of the technical problems. I have been wondering: Is Pokemon Go against the morals of the Pokemon franchise as a whole?

What do I mean by this? If you’re familiar with the franchise-  whether it’s the games, or the anime – you’ll be aware of Pokemon’s moral message: being friends with your Pokemon, treating them as equals, and creating a bond with them is more important than filling your Pokedex, winning badges, competing in contests, or defeating the Pokemon League.

giphy (1).gif

Morals In Pokemon Franchise

This message is probably the most obvious in the anime. Ash doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to being a professional trainer. There are some gyms he’s challenged multiple times, and he never makes it to first place when he competes in the Pokemon League. He also is nowhere near finishing his Pokedex.

But Ash goes out of his way to form friendships with his Pokemon. He and Pikachu have had an everlasting bond ever since Ash saved him from the flock of Spearow in the very first episode. There are countless other Pokemon he has helped during his journey – too many to name here. Ash and his friends are also always fighting Team Rocket or other bad guys who want to use Pokemon for their own personal gain. Each episode of Pokemon questions and challenges friendship, but the outcome and the theme are always the same: friendship over competition.

First episode of Pokemon anime

In every main Pokemon game, this same moral appears in one form or another. Battling regularly with your Pokemon and making sure they are properly healed will make your the bond with them grow. This has all kinds of benefits. It makes some Pokemon evolve, it makes certain battle moves stronger, and it can get you certain items. When you have a strong friendship with your Pokemon, characters in the game will comment on it and compliment you.

The story lines in the games usually promote the message of friendship as well. The evil teams, such as Team Rocket, Team Aqua and so on, always mistreat Pokemon and use them for something sinister. It is only you, the protagonist with a strong connection to your Pokemon, that can stop them. Whenever you beat the evil team’s leader, they are almost always impressed and surprised by the bond you share with your Pokemon.

Starting in Generation 6, the game introduced a feature that lets you interact and bond with Pokemon even more. Pokemon Amie or Pokemon Refresh lets you play with your Pokemon up close and personal. You can pet them and feed them treats. Maximizing your Pokemon’s affection for you has many benefits. It is also the way to evolve your Eevee into a Sylveon! Pokemon Refresh in Sun and Moon also allows you to also brush and groom your Pokemon.

Happy Sylveon

Pokemon Go Morals

Pokemon Go is quite different than the other components of the franchise. The goal of the game is the same: catch Pokemon, battle gyms, and fill up your Pokedex. But does the game have the same message about friendship? No.

Unlike in the main games and the anime, being close with your Pokemon isn’t emphasized. The concept is never really mentioned, and there is no reward for making a connection with any of your Pokemon. You could count the buddy system as a way of being friends with your Pokemon, but it really doesn’t amount to the same thing. 

This may seem like a small, picky detail on my part, but there is another aspect of the game that undermines the whole idea of treating Pokemon as equal individuals. In order to make your Pokemon evolve or grow stronger, you don’t train them the way trainers normally do. Instead you have to catch more of that same Pokemon. Doing so will give you candies; each Pokemon needs a certain amount to evolve.

Pokemon Go Pidgey

This results in multiples of the same Pokemon just sitting in your inventory. To make things even worse, you need to send those extra Pokemon to the professor to get more candies. For Pokemon that need high levels of candies, you could end up catching and sending over dozens of the same Pokemon.

But what message is this sending the players? Are Pokemon still being treated as equals, and developing strong connections to their trainers? No. Instead, Pokemon are just being treated as pawns. They aren’t individuals – they are just pieces being used to help fill up your Pokedex or make yourself stronger for gym battles. And be honest. Most people probably do not keep the first original Pokemon they catch.

Let’s say they catch a Clefairy that has 80 CP. The moment they catch one with a higher CP level (let’s say about 400 CP), they are likely  to transfer or delete their first Clefairy because it will be considered weak. This makes Pokemon expendable. They have no value except for the candies they provide and their CP level. It goes against everything the anime and the main games teach their fans.


Maybe this post seems a little dramatic considering Pokemon are just little bits of data. And I am sure there are reasons why the developers chose this particular system. If the point of the game is to make people get out and walk around, it makes sense. Needing more of the same Pokemon will force them to wander more. But for someone who grow up watching the anime and playing the games, the franchise’s original message is ingrained in me. Pokemon should be respected and treated well. Pokemon Go seems to contradict this theme. Of course, it is a side game, so I guess it should be given some slack.


I do wonder, however, how the ethics of Pokemon Go will affect new, future fans of the series, and how nostalgic, longtime players perceive its message.

What do you think of the message that Pokemon Go is sending? Discuss below!

You May Also LikePokemon Alpha Sapphire Review


4 thoughts on “Is Pokemon Go Against The Morals Of The Pokemon Franchise?

  1. weekendotaku says:

    I think the casual player in any of the pokemon games might share your views on this subject, but unless something has drastically changed in the last few generations of games, the people that really want to excel at the game have never cared about a moral message.

    Pokemon is a highly mathematical and strategic game at high levels where trainers care only about IVs, DVs, and EVs. At that point it’s not about the experience of the game, just grinding through eggs to get perfect IV/DVs and slaughtering millions of pokemon to get the right EV build. In that sense, Pokemon Go is exactly the kind of game they’ve always been used to. Soulless grinding to get the best pokemon in the current metagame.

    I was OK with this and played Pokemon Go for a little while until I got fed up with cheaters. That game isn’t set up in a way that you can really enjoy unless you can keep up with the elitist players.


    • Rai says:

      I agree that most players don’t agree with this message (I am just overly idealistic ;__;). I am a member of Pokecommunity Forums and I have seen countless comments about people who have bred a gazillion eggs or have continued catching the same Pokemon again and again until they found one with the perfect stats. I consider myself a serious player, but I never partook in any of these activities. I know they are just game data, but I try give my Pokemon equal opportunities (as silly as that may sound). I agree that Pokemon Go is definitely geared more toward elitist players, which is part of why I don’t play it as much.

      Liked by 1 person

      • weekendotaku says:

        There’s nothing wrong with how you play, especially since the game is supposed to be for your entertainment. The last one I really played with any regularity was Sapphire. Hatching eggs all day definitely wasn’t fun for me, and I only did it once to get a near perfect Skarmory, and then I never even leveled him to 100 after that!

        I was active on the IGN forums for some time and to scratch the battling itch I just played on their IRC battle bot where you could instantly make a team of lvl 100 with any legal stat/move spread you wanted and battle other people. I was never going to spend enough time on the GBA to do competitive battling, so I gave up on being a perfectionist in the game.


  2. Juan Martinez says:

    Hello, sorry as I am so late in the discussion, but here’s my comment.

    I think what Pokemon Go has right now is what Generation 1 backstory is. Professor Oak and other NPCs said that there has been a war that made other Pokemons extinct (i.e. Kabuto, Omanyte, etc). Also, the Razzberry in Generation 1 is rare but, you can easily get it in Pokemon Go.

    Being said, I think the reason why Team Rocket and other people are portrayed using Pokemons for their own benefits is because of what is happening now. Pokemon Go is a prequel (for me), and what Ash Ketchum did in Gen 1 will be the best thing to do with Pokemons.

    People with this kind of ethics in the game should be proud of themselves because they’re the protagonists of the game.

    I’m not saying that I have the same way of playing the game as I also hunt only for perfect IVs and discard others for candies.

    This is just what I am seeing for the entire franchise, that they planned it along time and just closing the gap for the entirety of the game. Including the people who played it, that we are all part of the game.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s