Officials from Pokémon USA, Inc. have announced that the Pokémon role-playing game franchise is on the verge of selling its 150 millionth game worldwide, having generated more than $15 billion in retail sales.
The announcement comes in the run-up to the North American release of Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness which, like all Pokémon titles before it, is expected to sell at least 1 million copies. Pokémon USA, Inc. is a subsidiary of The Pokémon Company in Japan, which manages and oversees the property outside of Asia - although the games themselves are still published by Nintendo.
The first Pokémon game was launched in Japan in 1996 for the original black and white Game Boy console. The games were released in the U.S. in 1998 and become an instant success, with the series selling more than 40 million copies in America alone. The spin-off Pokémon Trading Card Game has become equally popular, with global sales of more than 14 billion cards to date. In addition, the Pokémon animated series is now in its eighth year, and consistently ranks within the top three shows for boys ages 6 to 11.
However, it appears that Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness is not one of the series' better reviewed titles, apparently falling short of the fully featured home console role-playing game that many fans have been calling for. Nonetheless, the future of the franchise is thought to revolve around the forthcoming Pokémon Diamond and Pearl titles for the Nintendo DS. If the recent Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen games for the Game Boy Advance are considered merely as remakes of the original games then Diamond and Pearl will be the fourth entry in the core portable role-playing series - from which all other spin-offs take their lead.