A co-founder of Pokémon developer Game Freak is leaving the studio to join The Pokémon Company – moving away from developing the games and looking at the franchise more widely.
Junichi Masuda will begin his new role as chief creative fellow and use his “deep understanding of the Pokémon brand to develop new services and products”.
Masuda co-founded Game Freak and programmed and composed music for the original Pokémon Red and Green (and later Blue) games before directing later entries, starting with 2002’s Ruby and Sapphire. He has since directed, produced, or had significant influence over practically every subsequent entry, making him one of the most important members of the Pokémon games franchise.
“I have served as the director of the Pokémon video game series, starting with Pokémon Ruby Version and Pokémon Sapphire Version up until Pokémon X and Pokémon Y, and was involved in the development of many video games, including Pokémon GO“, Masuda said in an official announcement.
“I would like to express my heart-felt thanks to all Pokémon fans. Going forward, I hope to transcend the boundaries of video games by trying to offer greater surprises, fun and excitement to people all over the world, while doing my utmost to connect people, expand the circle of play, and to help bring about a richer world for us to share. I appreciate your continued support in my new role.”
It’s unclear exactly what projects Masuda will be working on going forward but it appears as though he made the move to branch out of traditional video game development.That’s not to say he won’t be involved at all, as The Pokémon Company is obviously still at the centre of the game series, but his influence certainly won’t be as hands on as before.
Masuda will still have plenty to do, as Pokémon is as widespread and diverse as any other major franchise, with official Pokémon skateboards, Katy Perry tracks, Tamagotchis, commercial airlines, and Converse sneakers.
There are more traditional routes, of course, such as the anime or Pokémon Trading Card Game, which continues to grow in popularity 25 years after the original set was released, as evidenced, among other things, by the number of people trying to steal them.
An independent gaming store in Minnesota reportedly had around $250,000 worth of Pokémon merchandise stolen in February while in March a man was arrested in Tokyo for allegedly launching a literal heist in order to steal the treasured cards. Also in March, a Georgia man didn’t steal Pokémon cards directly but instead misused money from the government to buy one, using a COVID-19 relief payment to buy a rare, shiny Charizard.
Ryan Dinsdale is an IGN freelancer who occasionally remembers to tweet @thelastdinsdale. He’ll talk about The Witcher all day.
Source: IGN Video Games All