Sword and Shield will be here in just over a week, and fans are still not letting up on some of Game Freak’s decision-making and game direction. The issues in this article come from sources that highlight what we are all thinking- Game Freak may lose the Pokemon IP if they can’t find a way to make the franchise evolve.
Just a small reminder on the National Pokedex cuts, Game Freak stated that they wanted to focus on improving the character animations and designs to make them better, which to them, was more important than adding in all the Pokemon from previous generations. However, the community was quick to point out that this was clearly bullsh*t as Game Freak had immediately released a trailer after that statement, showing off Yamper, a new Pokemon using what appears to be the move Tail Whip.
It seems that all of Game Freak’s words on the subject might just be smoke and nonsense, as sources are claiming that those statements just weren’t the truth, and that Game Freak has other priorities beyond Pokemon, such as a whole new IP.
This IP is allegedly being developed by the primary dev team to show value to Nintendo, as pressure is on for Game Freak to do something more with Pokemon than what we have seen in recent years. This means that Game Freak’s B-Squad was used to make Sw/Sh, and they allegedly refused to hire additional employees to help with the workload so that they could save money, figuring that Pokemon was popular enough that fans would buy it regardless (which is probably true).
Over on Reddit, a Japanese user by the name of u/Samson2557 posted an excerpt from a fan from the Nintendo Treehouse presentation when the PokeDex cuts were announced by Game Freak. And as it turns out, the Japanese fanbase is just as furious as those of us across other regions of the world.
“People here in Japan are very angry about this also. I am not speaking for everyone in Japan, but a lot of other Japanese people on the internet seem to be upset about Gamefreak removing Pokemon. It is not just westerners that are concerned. This is a huge deal for two reasons, the first reason is that in Japan we are rarely vocal about our opinions because we don’t like to start conflict. If we are very passionate about something and tell people our opinion publicly, it must be very important. Pokemon is a very popular video game series in Japan and a lot of people care about it. We want Gamefreak and Nintendo to put as much effort into these games as they can to make it the best quality game it can be.
They could have definitely added all of the Pokemon and had no real reason to cut them. The Switch can definitely handle 1000+ Pokemon models, it is much more powerful than the 3ds and that could handle 800+ Pokemon plus their walking/running animations. They already had every old Pokemon model from Sun and Moon to use and just had to update it graphic wise. Plus they already had the 151 Kanto models finished in Let’s Go.
They could have put Sword & Shield as a priority and had the best team working on the game but they didn’t, instead, they sidelined Pokemon in favor of a new game and had their secondary team developing Pokemon. They didn’t hire enough people to work on the game and treated it like it wasn’t important.
The second reason this is a problem is that when they realized they weren’t going to have enough time to update every Pokemon model and put it into the game, they chose not to hire more people and do it. Instead, they came up with an unconvincing excuse all so that they wouldn’t have to spend any extra time, money, or effort into developing the game. They figured they could get away with cutting content because they figured people would buy the game no matter what terrible decisions they make. They think saving money is more important than making a great game.
I am not saying everything about these games is bad. I am not blaming the developers, they did the best they could be understaffed and rushed for time. I think Sword and Shield had the potential to be great games with some really good new features. Unfortunately due to bad choices and response to fans, that potential was damaged. But I am disappointed with the direction Gamefreak has been going with the Pokemon games recently and this terrible policy. If you don’t care about anything Gamefreak does and want to buy Pokemon games anyway that is fine. I am just saying my concerns and other people’s for the future of Pokemon. I also hope people don’t threaten to harm Masuda Junichi or any other higher member Gamefreak and the Pokemon company.
Corporate greed is one of the biggest issues people have with this whole thing. It is a major problem with a lot of big companies. Gamefreak is planning on cutting a ton of Pokemon that people love from their future games because they don’t want to bother hiring more people or spending more time and money to make the games fun for everyone. It’s about more than just the fact that they are not including all of the Pokemon.
Gamefreak has been prioritizing other games over Pokemon for a while now and have not been putting nearly enough effort into recent games. They have been making games with unfinished areas like the train station in X and Y or no post-game. They have started handing out legendary and mythical Pokemon as gifts instead of introducing them through in-game events that allow us to catch them in a new area of the game and add to their lore.
And sometimes they add extra things in version two of the game but we shouldn’t have to pay for a whole other game just so we can get a finished version. But it seems like for every step forward they take another two steps back. Some people are pretending not to notice these things and are still looking through rose-colored glasses (I hope I used that English phrase right). I understand that people want to see the best in all Pokemon games but in reality, the games have some large flaws and aren’t perfect. The problem with that is that it allows Gamefreak to get away with almost anything, that is partially why there was a drop in quality. People criticize certain parts of a game because they want them to be fixed in the next game. The other reason for some parts of the games being unfinished is that they are very persistent with yearly releases.
They don’t listen to their fans for the most part and that has to change. Pokemon is an important franchise that deserves a super high-quality game with a ton of time and effort like Breath of the Wild or Mario Odyssey. The semi-open world areas of Sword & Shield is a good idea and the Pokemon in the over-world is a great new feature. But at the same time, they got rid if very popular and creative things like Mega Evolution in favor of one time gimmicks. And if you like those gimmicks that is fine, but it shows that they are not listening to what the majority of fans want.
And now they are giving us an unfinished product that has even less than their 3ds games did. That is not acceptable and that is the biggest problem, Nintendo and Gamefreak as a company think it is okay to put less effort into Pokemon games because we will buy them anyway. People want to let them know that we are tired of our favorite games being set to the side. We want them to prioritize Pokemon for once. Sword & Shield deserve to be the best quality Pokemon games they can be. ありがとうございます”
The above sounds like it certainly lines up with what we have seen from Game Freak recently, and if this is any indication of the future of the Pokemon franchise, Nintendo may look to strip it away from them and give it to a new developer to take Pokemon to the next level.
The Switch is an immensely powerful console, albeit in a small package, and can certainly handle far beyond what Game Freak is putting into their games.
Another user by the name of u/TehDingo, commented on details of morale over at Game Freak regarding the current state of affairs and the internal struggle between devs and higher-ups:
“According to Austin Walker in the most recent Waypoint Radio it seems like Game Freak’s company morale is at an all-time low. Whether this is because they didn’t see the backlash coming or because they saw it coming but couldn’t do anything because of orders coming from up high, we might never know, but at least they know people are unhappy, and now the ball is in their court to fix it.”
Another interesting comment from user u/OnePotatoeChip touches base on what these reports/users are suggesting- that Game Freak may be preparing to have Pokemon taken away from them and thus need to have another franchise under their belt for when/if that happens:
“Ya’ll know, I watched a video on the subject. Don’t know why I’m just remembering, but anyway. The guy posited that GF’s sloppiness and general decision making stems from the fact that they’re losing relevancy in terms of Pokemon. Said that revenue from GO could more or less supplant the main games and that merchandising is still TPC’s [The Pokemon Company] main moneymaker. Lord knows what this means if Masters picks up steam.
So, basically, GF’s putting Pokemon on the back burner and focusing on other projects so they won’t ‘have all their eggs in one basket’ as it were. Instead of doubling down on the games’ quality, they’re prepping to cut and run (figuratively; I’m not certain whether they’d actually break away from Nintendo and TPC or if they even can).”
At this juncture, one point remains abundantly clear; Game Freak is dropping the ball, and they can’t keep up with the direction the gaming industry is going and they certainly can’t drive the development direction that Pokemon needs to go. Sword and Shield will sell, and it will do extremely well, but many fans are simply not satisfied, and many of them are still boycotting the new titles as a means of voting with their wallets, so to speak.
Boycotting or not, in the end, it probably won’t hurt the bottom line too badly. However, Nintendo and The Pokemon Company are very much aware of community backlash and they know that this negative buzz around Pokemon is bad for business. Whether or not Game Freak loses the IP is still just a rumor and conjecture. It may not happen, but we can see it as a real possibility. Much like the monsters within the games themselves, the Pokemon franchise needs to evolve. It can’t stay on the current course it has been on since the 90s. It needs to grow and expand far beyond its current form and as of now, it seems very clear that Game Freak just isn’t able to handle it.