After more than a decade of annual releases, The Pokémon Company admits that its rapid release structure is hurting the quality of its games. With a new game every year, Pokémon developer Game Freak has failed to hit the bar of quality fans expect.
Following the release of Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, fans hit the breaking point with the iconic gaming series. With awful, more than last-gen visuals, fans were upset at the new game, going as far as to request refunds.
In an interview with ComicBook, The Pokémon Company COO Takato Utsunomiya admitted that the release structure of recent Pokémon titles is a struggle to balance with game quality. While the executive explained that this structure has yet to be changed, discussions are finally being had.
“I think in general, if you look at the past, the path we’ve taken up until now has been this constant release, always regularly releasing products on a fairly fixed kind of a cadence, you might say. Always having these products able to be introduced and new experiences for our customers, and that’s how we’ve operated up until now,” Utsunomiya explained.
“I think we’re still operating in that way,” he continued. “but there’s more and more conversations, as the development environments change, about how we can continue to do this, while making sure that we’re ensuring really quality products are also being introduced.”
The issue with the development of Pokémon games isn’t just exclusive to the games themselves. Each game fuels the series’ anime, trading cards, plushies and wealth of myriad other merchandise. As such, new games and even spin-offs are released on a regular cycle.
Despite this, Game Freak has attempted to make changes to the release structure of Pokémon. Instead of the iconic third entries — Yellow, Emerald, Platinum, etc — the developer is now making DLC expansions such as the upcoming Teal Mask and Indigo Disk DLCs.
While the quality of gameplay is still strong, the technical makeup of new Pokémon games is far behind the competition. While the upcoming release of the Nintendo Switch 2 in 2024 may help to remedy some of the developer‘s technical shortcomings, there’s a lot to fix.
At the time of writing, the next mainline Pokémon entry has yet to be announced. While the series’ Generation 10 is already in development, the remakes of Pokémon Black and White are also reportedly in the works. Unlike prior remakes, the series’ return to Unova will allegedly take place in a futuristic setting that follows the gameplay style of Legends: Arceus.
The next Pokémon release is the first DLC for Scarlet and Violet: The Teal Mask. Releasing on September 13th, 2023. Afterwards, the new spin-off Detective Pikachu Returns releases on October 20th, followed by The Indigo Disk DLC sometime in Winter.