Pokémon Masters EX gives players a free Champion of choice in anniversary

Following on from yesterday’s Pokémon Presents, which took place on the anniversary of the franchise’s first game launch in 1996, mobile game Pokémon Masters EX has begun its own celebration as it reaches its 3.5 year anniversary.

With this anniversary, continuing the trend of previous half-year milestone thus far, developer DeNA is introducing new events, missions, and of course, limited-time characters.

Celebrating in style

Pokémon Masters is introducing alts of Marnie, Hop and Bede in a staggered release, Marnie being available now and the others coming in early March. Originating from Switch games Sword and Shield, each comes with a very Bri’ish accent and their partner Pokémon are regional variants of the popular Legendary Birds.

Players who log in during the anniversary period will receive 3,000 gems – enough for 11 character scouts – and a free ticket to select a Champion from the main series, including fan favourites like Steven and Cynthia.

Other changes include UI updates in the Pokémon Center, showing current events on a monitor, and dramatically increasing the number of teams players can build from 30 to 100.

Pokémon Masters launched back in August 2019 on the App Store and Google Play Store, and by January 2020 it had already amassed 20 million downloads. The EX moniker came later – when the game introduced titular EX character outfits at the first anniversary.

Of course, Go remains on top as Pokémon mobile game revenue goes – averaging $1 billion every year – and in fact, Masters is perhaps closer to Fire Emblem Heroes, another of Nintendo’s mobile games, despite being different IP; both games feature a gacha system with most monetisation being built around obtaining new characters, often from the main series and in original outfits.

Mario Kart Tour used a gacha system too, up until last October when this was overhauled in favour of a Spotlight Shop.

Yesterday’s Pokémon Presents also featured the return of upcoming mobile game Pokémon Sleep, rousing from a near four-year slumber with a new trailer. An accessory tie-in to Sleep and Go, the Pokémon Go Plus +, was also shown off.

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