Pokémon studio Game Freak has posted an article on its recruitment website which goes into detail on the creation of Pokémon Sword & Shield, with director Shigeru Omori and planning director Kazumasa Iwao going into detail on how the company operates and how it approaches the development of new entries in the massively popular franchise.
The article has been kindly translated by Nintendo Everything and makes for interesting reading. For exampe, Iwao highlights the fact that there was a ‘generational shift’ in the team:
[Iwao] gave higher positions to the younger staff members who had the ability and motivation to take on the responsibility, which gave them opportunities to grow and learn. The staff should not only have the ability to carry out the tasks placed in front of them, but communicate and build rapport with other team members in the process – a project like Pokemon cannot be made by an individual.
When asked how the younger staff performed, Iwao felt the lack of knowledge and experience sometimes showed through the project. Young staff got stuck on numerous occasions and received lots of advice from the more experienced staff members. They struggled, but eventually made it through with the help of more experienced staff.
It has always been a tradition at Game Freak to give opportunities to the youth. Even for Omori, he was chosen as the planning leader for Pokemon Diamond and Pearl when he was 25, while all other staff were more experienced members. The organization often changes with every game title, which is another thing that makes Game Freak so unique.
Omori states that he wants to “create Pokemon games that gamers desire, and give the feeling that Pokémon exists and lives with us,” and the article concludes that, at Game Freak, there are always “new opportunities and positions, and being able to join in projects means it never gets repetitive and never gets boring.”
With the vast amount of experience spanning over 20 years, a unique system that allows youths to experience failure and success and a company continuing to change generations, Pokemon will continue to evolve.
Pokémon Sword & Shield was a commercial success but came under fire from certain sections of fandom for various reasons – the most obvious of which was the fact that the game didn’t include a complete Pokédex. The Pokémon Company’s director of consumer marketing, J.C. Smith, later admitted that the team behind the game had “been through a lot”.