In a recent interview with Video Games Chronicle, Masayuki Onoue, a programmer and game director at Game Freak, stated that the company is shifting to put greater focus on creating new games.
In the interview, Onoue explained:
“There are two different production teams here, simply named Production Team 1 and Production Team 2. Team 1 is fully dedicated to Gear Project, while Team 2 is for the Pokémon operation.”
“What that means is that Game Freak as a company is prioritising Gear Project, which is production team number one, more than Pokémon in general. We are always trying to create something that is equally exciting, or more exciting than Pokémon.”
Game Freak’s Gear Project initiative encourages employees to present and work on new game projects. It started off as something for the gaps between Pokémon releases. The games that have come from Gear Project include Drill Dozer, HarmoKnight, Tembo the Badass Elephant and Giga Wrecker. The upcoming RPG Town for Nintendo Switch is also from Gear Project.
Some fans have expressed concern over this shift in priorities, fearing that a lack of focus on Pokémon games could lead to a decline in the overall quality of the games. Others are pleased to see Game Freak more willing to experiment and create original games outside of the Pokémon series.
It is possible that we are already seeing the effects of Gear Project ideas crossing into the Pokémon series. Last year, Game Freak released its first self-made Pokémon spin-off game in the form of Pokémon Quest. With both Pokémon Sword & Shield versions and Town scheduled to release in the future for Nintendo Switch, it will be a good opportunity to see how Game Freak’s simultaneous development cycle impacts how both games turn out.