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Junichi Masuda

An official press release from The Pokemon Company has just confirmed that Junichi Masuda is leaving his former role as Game Freak’s Managing Director to become The Pokemon Company’s Chief Creative Fellow, effective immediately. Essentially, that means that while he should no longer be directly involved with the development of the series’ games, he will now be focusing on managing the franchise as a whole.

Junichi Masuda’s role in the development of the Pokemon franchise is a noteworthy one; he has been involved in the development of the games ever since the original Pokemon Red Version and Green Version, has directed several games in the franchise himself, and has generally assisted in the development of other games in the franchise, such the mobile spin-off title Pokemon Go. In a way, his new role in the company should mimic that of Shigeru Miyamoto, who also stepped into the role of Creative Fellow at Nintendo to focus more on managing their brand rather than be directly involved in developing their games.

Included below is a transcript of The Pokemon Company’s full PR statement, including a comment from Junichi Masuda himself:

Galarian Ponyta

During a Q&A session at a Japanese media event recently, Game Freak’s Junichi Masuda was asked about The Pokemon Company’s unique approach to announcing new creatures for this generation, such as with the live stream which revealed Galarian Ponyta.

When asked how this incorporates into their approach with this new entry, Masuda had the following to say:

Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield

The Pokemon Company has published a bi, official interview with Pokemon Sword/Shield director Shigeru Ohmori and producer Junichi Masuda. The two developers had plenty to say about new features that are included, the decision to return to Gyms following Pokemon Sun/Moon, going about making new Pokemon, and how it was decided to give certain Pokemon Galar variants and new evolutions. Of course, there are some other topics as well.

We’ve rounded up the full interview with Ohmori and Masuda. You can read the discussion in full below.

Game Freak made it known earlier this year that not all Pokemon can be brought over to Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield. Based on early leaks, quite a number of creatures were cut. While some fans have held out hope that they’ll be added later on through opportunities such as updates, it sounds like that won’t be happening.

Speaking with Dutch site InsideGamer, producer Junichi Masuda made it clear that Game Freak isn’t planning on adding missing Pokemon from the Galar Pokedex at a later point. He also again pointed out how the upcoming Pokemon Home app can be used to collect and display Pokemon from past titles.

Masuda said:

For the first time in the series, Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield will feature auto-saves. That may not seem like a big deal since it’s relatively simple, but it’s nice to see Game Freak finally implementing the feature.

Auto-save will regularly be running in the background while you play. If you happen to forget about saving manually or your system runs out of battery life before charging, you’ll be able to rest easy knowing that your important progress won’t be erased.

Speaking about the decision to include auto-saves this time around with Eurogamer Portugal, producer Junichi Masuda and director Shigeru Ohmori explained:

Pokemon logo

Game Freak has been known to put out Pokemon games regularly. Since the company took a break in 2015, we saw Pokemon Sun/Moon, Pokemon Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon, Pokemon: Let’s Go, Pikachu / Eevee, and now Pokemon Sword/Shield in consecutive years. Although it may seem like Pokemon is a yearly series, Game Freak says it’s not intentional.

Pokemon producer Junichi Masuda explained to VG247, “each time we go into making a new game and start a new project we look at what exactly we want to create – and then from where we decide the most appropriate timing to release it depending on various factors.” What’s important to Game Freak is to have “as many people to come in contact and play Pokemon as possible.”

Pokemon Sword/Shield

Game Freak shared some news at E3 2019 earlier this year regarding Pokemon Sword/Shield that left many fans disappointed. Unlike past entries, not all Pokemon will be included this time around. We still don’t have a complete list as to which creatures are in and which aren’t, but the bottom line is that some Pokemon are being cut.

Speaking with VG247, producer Junichi Masuda again weighed in on the situation, stating that Game Freak always hopes to develop “the most interesting game possible and make a more enjoyable, richer experience for the fans.” And since the team is able to “give people a greater attachment to the Pokemon that are in the game,” the studio has no regrets about the decision made with the national Pokedex.

Masuda shared the following when asked if the fan response gave Game Freak any pause for thought, and if he believes this is the only way to go in the future:

Pokemon logo

Speaking with IGN, Pokemon producer Junichi Masuda vaguely discussed how Game Freak approaches future Pokemon games. He explained that what is and isn’t kept “may depend somewhat on the timing of when that game will come out.” For instance, while Pokemon Sun/Moon did away with gyms since it was the second generation entry on 3DS, Pokemon Sword/Shield is the true debut on Switch, which is why gyms are back.

Masuda also confirmed that new-generation Pokemon titles “have about a three-year development cycle”. The developers need to think about what the future will be like in three years’ time, including what fans would be interested in when the games release.

Masuda’s full words:

Nintendo ultimately decides how it wants to move forward with new hardware, but that doesn’t mean the company isn’t interested in hearing from outside voices. In fact, Pokemon developer Game Freak is one such company that is able to provide a bit of feedback.

Pokemon Sword/Shield producer Junichi Masuda, in an interview with Polygon, said he told late Nintendo president Satoru Iwata that the Big N should make a “hardware platform that people can enjoy together.” Masuda noted the following when asked if Switch is pulling Game Freak onto consoles:

Pokemon Sword and Shield

Game Informer is one of a few outlets to have published an interview with Pokemon Sword/Shield director Shigeru Ohmori and producer Junichi Masuda. As part of their discussion, they spoke about how big these games are compared to other entries, teased more content after players finish the main story, and spoke about the Pokemon timeline.

We’ve rounded up the answers to these topics below. If you’re interested in reading the full interview, hit up Game Informer’s full piece here.

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