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Game Freak prioritizing original projects more than Pokemon, comments on 2019 plans and R&D division

Posted on May 22, 2019 by (@NE_Brian) in General Nintendo, News, Switch

For many, may years, Game Freak has been strongly attached to the Pokemon franchise. However, we’ve seen the studio branch out as of late with the likes of HarmoKnight, Pocket Card, Jockey, and Giga Wrecker Alt.

Giga Wrecker Alt. stems from a second production team at Game Freak that works on original titles. And according to programmer and director Masayuki Onoue, the Gear Project team is being prioritized – even “more than Pokemon in general.”

Onoue told VCG in a new interview:

“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 prioritizing 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.

There is a lot of back-and-forth between Team 1 and Team 2. One of the interesting things is that Team 2, which is dedicated to Pokémon, only knows about specific platforms. So with Team 2, engineers can learn about other platforms that they might not have touched before. By mixing up the teams we are able to create this interesting synergy.”

Onoue later spoke about how he was able to work as a director on Giga Wrecker Alt., and called it “refreshing” moving on from just a programmer for the Pokemon games:

“Yes, it was a totally refreshing experience when I moved from Pokémon to Giga Wrecker. It’s like a paradigm shift. When you’re a programmer working on Pokémon, you’re one of many programmers. However, as a director on Giga Wrecker the experience opened my eyes to the other aspects of game creation, all the way up to users playing the game.”

“It’s really difficult to expect a programmer to have that kind of perspective, but as director I learned how to make a game more appealing and accessible to players, plus aspects of marketing as well. Gear Project has helped me become more creative. I’ve now seen the whole process of creation all the way to marketing and selling the game to players. I can now bring that knowhow back to the Pokémon team and try to create something different for Pokémon. It’s a good synergy between Gear Project and Pokémon creation. Gear Project has helped me become more creative… I can now bring that knowhow back to the Pokémon team and try to create something different for Pokémon.”

Finally, Onoue touched on Game Freak’s plans for 2019, along with a new R&D division that has helped increase production efficiency:

“2019 will be very exciting, especially following the Pikachu Let’s Go titles which allowed us to start looking seriously at Nintendo Switch as a platform. That was a very important milestone for us before moving on to the next step. In terms of the number of titles we are releasing this year, it’s happened coincidentally. It’s not like we’re trying to put everything together in 2019 – it just happened.”

“R&D is a newly founded division which is creating the basic library, which used to be created every single time we made a project. That helps the efficiency of our production for sure. Also, we are looking at what’s going on in the future, from a technical perspective, and that’s something else that we’ve never had before. I think that R&D division will certainly contribute to the future of Game Freak.”

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