One of the most significant issues a game developer can have is trying to breathe new life into a franchise that has been around for a while. Of course, plenty of franchises only last a few titles at most, and thus the “staleness” doesn’t apply to them. But then, you get franchises with titles cranked out every few years, and the expectations around them grow almost unfathomable. That can lead developers to wonder whether they should continue with the franchise that has made them money or attempt to do something fresh, fun, and new. That is the situation currently hitting one of the heads of Game Freak.
You know Game Freak as the developers of the legendary Pokemon franchise. While they haven’t touched every game that is attached to that brand, they are the ones behind the mainline games and many spinoffs or remakes. They just released the 9th generation of the series in November, which was a massive sales success. However, some issues made the games less praised than they likely should’ve been.
The developer team knew that being attached to one game franchise forever could cause problems, so they made an initiative to attempt to make smaller games when they weren’t working on the pocket monsters franchise. Masafumi Saito, the development department’s general manager, interviewed with VGC, noting they had made several smaller games that made the dev team very happy.
One of those games, Pocket Jockey: Ride On which, has hit the Apple Arcade, and Saito praised how the Apple Arcade allowed the team to continue spreading their smaller titles due to the Nintendo 3DS eshop closing down soon.
He acknowledged that if the game does well there, they might expand and do more original titles like this:
“It is very important to Game Freak to keep taking on the challenge of creating original games,” Saito said.
It should be noted that the developer has done other original titles on a larger scale before. You might recall the Switch title Little Town Hero that they made. It wasn’t the biggest success story on the console, but it was a fun departure from their typical RPG experience.
If you’re worried about the team abandoning Pokemon, you should immediately put that out of your head. The franchise is too successful for them to back away from it. They just want to make sure they get to make other titles outside of that.