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Pokémon Unite 1st Anniversary: Looking back at one successful year since the global launch

The notable highlights in the game!

On the 21st of July 2021, Pokémon UNITE was first released on the Nintendo Switch and later released on Mobile just after 2 months. Over the course of the first year of Unite, there have been many balance changes, new characters, GUI updates, the first-ever season of competitive UNITE, and many more aspects of the game! While players are savoring the whole 1st Anniversary, we will cover some of the highlights of the progression that Pokémon UNITE has made over the past year, that shaped it into the game it is today.

Pokémon Unite 1st Anniversary: Looking back at the strongest characters

Over the last few months, the metagame has constantly evolved, with some Pokémon standing out more than others, due to having far greater power levels than the other Pokémon. Here are three of the most influential and powerful Pokémon over the past year, based on competitive play:

1. Lucario

Out of all the Pokémon released in Pokémon UNITE, Lucario is by far the most influential Pokémon in the game. Ever since its release, Lucario players have been terrorizing solo-queue games. Lucario has the most versatile kit that has allowed experienced Lucario players to carry games with ease.

Lucario has everything, in the form of healing, dashes, more dashes, crowd control, great movement speed, and a great amount of damage output. When used by a player who can utilize all these capabilities, it allows Lucario to easily win games across ranked levels of play.

Pokémon Unite Lucario bug, Pokémon Unite Lucario Guide
Image via The Pokémon Company

Lucario was so powerful that it ended up being the most nerfed Pokémon in the game, with constant decreases in the Pokémon’ stats, healing, and cooldown. Lucario was so powerful that it shaped the 1-1-3 metagame in the competitive scene, with three players going bottom, one going middle and a Lucario playing solo in the top lane, as it was so powerful that they didn’t need a teammate to help them in the top lane.

2. Hoopa

Hoopa Pokemon Unite, Pokemon Unite Hoopa hotfix
Image via The Pokemon Company

Hoopa is a highly controversial Pokémon that has had a huge impact on the competitive scene of Pokémon UNITE. Hoopa’s “Hyperspace Hole” is an ability that is unlike any other in MOBA video games. This ability allows Hoopa to teleport players between goal zones, or even back to the base, or even fully heal a player!

This ability is strange, because it has very little value in solo and the lower ranked play, but has a huge impact on competitive play, due to Hyperspace Hole requiring a great amount of communication. Hyperspace Hole had such a large impact on the competitive play that Hoopa had a 100% pick rate in multiple countries for the regional championships! Hoopa still remains to have a large impact on the competitive scene.

3. Blastoise

Blastoise has been a solid, powerful Pokémon ever since its release and still continues to shine in the competitive scene. Blastoise on release had by far, the strongest UNITE move in the game, which would easily kill players with a single hit. Therefore, players that could hit their UNITE move perfectly would end up winning games with literally a single press of a button.

Pokemon Unite Blastoise Guide Cover
Image via The Pokemon Company

This was weakened a few weeks later, but Blastoise still remained a powerful pick, as players discovered that Rapid Spin Blastoise in the center lane, was incredibly strong in competitive play. This was also weakened, yet Blastoise remains a powerful pick due to its incredible versatility in both builds and lanes.

New Pokémon Releases

There have been many new releases of Pokémon, with 21 added Pokémon to play with, on top of the twenty characters that have been in the game since its release. Here are some of the most notable character releases that shaped the game into what it is today:

1. Hoopa

Hoopa once again has a mention here, because of how unique and influential Hoops’ abilities are. When Hoopa was released, players began to realize they no longer needed to play characters with high mobility to get around the map, because Hoopa’s Hyperspace Hole would provide them with more than enough mobility around the map. This completely changed the meta-game and characters that lacked mobility, but had other great stats, became increasingly popular in the meta-game.

2. Blissey

Pokémon Unite Blissey Guide
Image via The Pokémon Company

Blissey on its release lacked power, but after some buffs, it became an amazing Pokémon to use in competitive play. Blissey’s ability “Safeguard” is one of the very few in the game that makes a Pokémon immune to the effects of crowd control. This made Blissey an excellent pick in competitive play, as previously, Pokémon like Wigglytuff was running rampant with a large amount of crowd control.

3. The Eevee Trio (Sylveon, Espeon, and Glaceon)

Over the last year, Tencent has not released one, not two, but three Eeveelutions for players to use. This is a completely new gimmick that has never been seen in a MOBA before, as characters usually need to have clear identities, which are separate from one another.

Pokémon Unite 1st Anniversary defenders eevee evolutions
Image via The Pokémon Company

When UNITE was first revealed, it was said that they would release Espeon. Despite having another Pokémon that evolves from Eevee, the Unite community was curious about how they would differentiate each of the Eevee’s from one another. Pokémon Unite solved this issue by having a little icon next to Eevee’s nametag with colors that represent the Eeveelution it will turn into.

Pokémon UNITE 1st Anniversary: Looking into Unite Esports scene

Pokémon UNITE has had its first-ever Esports championship this year! Teams from all around the world competed to determine which players were the best in the region. Finally North America based BLVKHVND became the first ever Pokemon UNITE global champion. Below are some aspects that made up a majority of the team-oriented play shown in the competitive UNITE scene:

1. 1-1-3 Laning

The typical lane orientation for a solo-queue game is using a defender and attacker in the top lane, a speedster in the center lane, and an all-rounder with a supporter in the bottom lane. In the competitive scene, however, an all-rounder (such as Lucario or Tsareena) is played in the top lane, and a Pokémon can be played in the centre lane, in which the class can vary depending on the team composition.

Therefore, the remaining Pokémon would have a supporter, defender, attacker, and supporter all in the bottom lane. The center and the top lane are a part of the backbone of the team, as they have to cover a large area of the map, while the other 3 players all stay at the bottom because Drednaw is such an important objective. Using 3 players in the bottom lane increases the chances of winning the Drednaw fight. An honorable mention goes to the ‘Greedent strategy’, where a Greedent would start by going straight into the enemy center lane and stealing as many of their wild Pokémon as possible.

2. Defenders/Supporters

Pokémon Unite 1st Anniversary defenders
Image via The Pokémon Company

In most solo queue games, many players have chosen attackers and all-rounders, in the hope of individually carrying games. This is not the case in competitive games. In competitive play, it is essential that players all group up and compete for objectives. This means that characters that can peel for teammates and buff the teammates are a priority. This is a common strategy.

3. Lucario, Hoopa and Blissey

Lucario, Hoopa, and Blissey are three Pokémon, that have had the greatest impact on the competitive scene. All of these Pokémon have been toned down in power, due to their dominance over competitive play. Yet, they are still seeing a lot of play to this day.

Pokémon Unite 1st Anniversary: Deep-diving into In-Game Purchases

Pokémon Unite has had some controversy over in-game purchases, as players who spent money on in-app purchases had the opportunity to max out their items, giving them a competitive advantage over other players. Tencent Games responded to this issue, by distributing “max item enhancers” and “max trial cards”.

These are the perfect solution, as they allow players to have a maxed-out core item build. However, there is a current issue regarding boost emblems, as players who spend money on Aeos energy have more opportunities to purchase higher rarity emblems, giving them a slight competitive advantage.

Pokémon Unite 1st Anniversary
Image via The Pokémon Company

Purchasing new characters in Unite has always been a struggle, as there are few ways to obtain Aeos coins. However, Tencent Games have compensated for this, by implementing a variety of new ways to obtain Aeos coins and having free Pokémon events. This means that Pokémon can be purchased somewhat easily if the game is played enough.

The greatest issue with Pokémon UNITE’s in-game purchases is the expensive holowear. Some in-game holowear is unnecessarily high-priced, costing up to 2000 Aeos gems, which does cost a great amount of money to purchase. Because of this, very few people choose to purchase these Holowear. If there were more discounts on these items, they would be purchased more often.

Pokemon UNITE’s business performance on mobile in the first year

Pokemon UNITE had a great start. The hype was at the top when the game first launched. However, as time passed, the game lost its hype, lost a huge chunk of its player base and the monthly revenue and downloads became a stale graph.

Pokemon unite business, Pokemon unite business performance, pokemon unite revenue, pokemon unite downloads
Image via AppMagic

According to the data extracted by GamingonPhone (via AppMagic), the game had over 50 million downloads in its first year and generated nearly $30 million in revenue, comprised of both Android and iOS app store. After in launch in September, the game peaked in downloads and revenue in October but after that, it went down and never spiked again. Although it has its Switch counterpart, for a big IP like Pokemon, the game should have crossed 100 million downloads by now.

As a Pokemon UNITE player, I can say its probably because of the bad monetisation system, not launching in every country, and of course lack of fresh and innovative gameplay. The game is definitely not a pay-to-win title, however, the cosmetics are way too overpriced and battle pass holowear designs and rewards could have been a lot better. the social element inside the game is probably the worst. Another thing that is worth mentioning is the poorly designed social elements, and I feel it indirectly impacts the player base. The clan system could use a rework.

Final Thoughts

Pokémon UNITE is a fun game for Pokémon lovers, across the world of all ages and backgrounds. We look forward to seeing how this game evolves and the many new aspects of the game to come!

On its 1st Anniversary, How have you liked the progression made by Pokémon Unite? Let us know in the comment section below!

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