Pokémon (Pokemon?, IPA: /ˈpoʊkeɪmɒn, ˈpɒkimɒn/) is a media franchise owned by the video game company Nintendo and created by Satoshi Tajiri around 1995. Originally released as a pair of interlinkable Game Boy role-playing video games, Pokémon has since become the second most successful and lucrative video game-based media franchise in the world, behind only Nintendo's own Mario series. Pokémon properties have since been merchandised into anime, manga, trading cards, toys, books, and other media. The franchise celebrated its tenth anniversary on February 27, 2006, and as of 23 April 2008 (2008 -04-23)[update], cumulative sales of the video games (including home console versions, such as the "Pikachu" Nintendo 64) have reached more than 186 million copies.
The name Pokémon is the romanized contraction of the Japanese brand, "Pocket Monsters" (Poketto Monsutā?), as such contractions are very common in Japan. The term "Pokémon", in addition to referring to the Pokémon franchise itself, also collectively refers to the 493 fictional species that have made appearances in Pokémon media as of the recent release of the newest Pokémon role-playing games (RPGs) for the Nintendo DS, Pokémon Diamond and Pearl. Like the words deer and sheep, the word "Pokémon" is identical in both the singular and plural, as is each individual species name; in short, it is grammatically correct to say both "one Pokémon" and "many Pokémon". In November 2005, 4Kids Entertainment, which had managed the non-game related licensing of Pokémon, announced that it had agreed not to renew the Pokémon representation agreement. Pokémon USA Inc., a subsidiary of Japan's Pokémon Co., now oversees all Pokémon licensing outside of Asia.