While Save State columnist Vincent Mahoney and I were discussing Poke’mon on the GIN Lounge (shameless plug here) we talked about how some franchises are so popular that it is not a stretch for fans to spend extra money on things besides just the core game. That got me thinking about what franchises can hoover the most money out of their fans and convince them to spend their hard earned dollars for other items that are not a core game.
Note: This list is completely anecdotal and subjective. Here we go:
Vincent is convinced that there are people who have never heard of Poke’mon, but know who Pikachu is, and I am inclined to agree. Poke’mon has influenced a generation of gamers and has found a way to stay relevant. Some of us remember a time when Burger King offered gold plated tablets when the first Poke’mon movie came out. Think of where you have seen Poke’mon items and how many people you know would shell out lots of money for Poke’mon merchandise.
Shirts, beanies, toys, MOBA games, movies, posters and backpacks. The amount of Poke’mon merchandise is endless. Anyone wanting to start an Etsy page could make easy money by making Pikachu, well, anything. Vincent made a great case when talking about Poke’mon Unite and you should listen to the next podcast episode (no shame in this plug).
Legend Of Zelda
Say what you will about Nintendo, they know how to merchandise with the best of them. The Legend of Zelda has such a rabid following that it has built a large merchandise inventory. I have seen more Tri-Force shirts than there are grains of sand. I have bought friends Zelda merchandise for Christmas every year for the past half decade.
Zelda has a lot of memes and inside jokes for gamers. Between smashing pots, calling Link Zelda or vice versa, The Legend of Zelda has a major pop culture impact. It is also worth noting that after Ocarina of Time, there was a niche market of Zelda themed Ocarinas for sale. It takes a lot for a game to convince people to play a strange musical instrument.
Fallout is interesting because not many western role playing games have a large merchandise backing as well. The walls of my local Gamestop are plastered with Vault Boy shirts, mugs and key chains. You can even get drinkable Nuka-Cola on Amazon in case you want to pretend you are in a desolate wasteland. While the overall variety pales in comparison to some of the other franchises, the game’s fans will still reliably buy lots of available merchandise.
Super Mario and Friends
This one may seem a little strange because Mario is kind of past his prime these days. This section is more encompassing of Mario himself, Luigi, Bowser, Yoshi, etc. Over the past couple of years I have seen a fair amount of Yoshi caps, shirts with the 1UP mushroom, and the Mario “M” on a mug. These may not be as popular as they once were, but there is still a steady stream of folks that will buy Mario (or his aforementioned friends) gear when they find affiliated merchandise.
This one was a difficult choice and I tossed up Call of Duty or Assassin’s Creed for this slot. But, I have to give it to the newcomers for merchandise and optional items that fans will hemorrhage money into. Fortnite has weaseled its way into pop culture and has appeared in strange places. One of which is a limited edition Secret Lair for Magic: The Gathering. I walked through both Wal-Mart and Target and found an entire endcap dedicated to Fortnite. Epic games have found themselves a new cash cow and we are going to be hearing plenty of Moo’s from them, and this game, for a long time.
So how did I do? Did I hit on all the games that take up a good section of your t-shirt closet? Do you have a favorite game property where the lure of fresh bobbleheads are too strong to resist? Let me know and I might try and cover them in the future (or run out to get yet another game-related ballcap — you never know).