Critical Chicken
NewsMonday, 14th August 2023 by

The Pokémon Company is “having conversations” about how it can better balance quality and quantity

There’s been disquiet in the Pokémon fandom for a long time, now.

A decade ago, in 2013, Pokémon X and Y released in what certainly looked like an unfinished state, with an unresolved plot and seemingly “dummied out” map areas. In 2019, Pokémon Sword and Shield were criticized for their dated-looking animations, as well as “Dexit” – developer Game Freak’s decision not to include every single Pokémon species in the game.

Last year’s Pokémon Legends: Arceus was well received, but still looked primitive next to other, older Switch games like Breath of the Wild. And then — also last year, which is sort of the problem — Pokémon Scarlet and Violet were derided for their poor performance, poor visual quality, and copious bugs.

A particularly egregious example of Pokémon Scarlet and Violet's lacklustre graphics

I defended the games at the time — partly due to Nintendo’s insistence that performance improvements were coming. Now, eight months later, nothing’s really changed — and with two DLC packs on the horizon, fans are once again making their distaste known.

But with Pokémon’s more-or-less yearly release schedule, can we really expect it to match up to other games with two-to-five-year development cycles?

Baby steps

Luckily, it seems The Pokémon Company is, at the very least, not completely oblivious. Which is a start.

Speaking to at the Pokémon World Championships, The Pokémon Company’s chief operating officer revealed there are ongoing discussions about how to balance the series’ relentless release schedule whilst maintaining quality.

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.

I think we’re still operating in that way, 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.

Takato Utsunomiya, The Pokémon Company

Traditionally, The Pokémon Company doesn’t so much as acknowledge its many and varied controversies, so it’s not totally clear whether that’s what’s happening in this case — but it certainly feels like a nod to the growing feeling of dissatisfaction. And that’s something.

Now to wait and see if anything comes of it.