Game Freak is synonymous with Pokemon, but the studio has ambitions to become known more than just the studio behind one of the world's biggest franchises. In a new interview, Game Freak director Masayuki Onoue reveals how the studio is positioned to focus on creating original games that have as much of an impact as a new Pokemon
At Game Freak, there is an initiative called Gear Project which encourages developers to pitch original games during slow periods. It's through Gear Project that games like HarmoKnight, Pocket Card Jockey, and Onoue's Giga Wrecker were developed. "There are two different production teams here, simply named Production Team 1 and Production Team 2," Onoue says. "Team 1 is fully dedicated to Gear Project, while Team 2 is for the Pokemon operation.
"What that means is that Game Freak as a company is prioritizing Gear Project, which is production team number one, more than Pokemon in general. We are always trying to create something that is equally exciting, or more exciting than Pokemon."
However, this should be taken more as statement of growth more than anything. Onoue says that Teams 1 and 2 work in tandem, and that there is a lot of movement between the two with the goal of giving developers more experience to become better creatively.
For example, while Pokemon games are always on Nintendo platforms, Gear Project games have come out on PC, PlayStation, and Xbox. This gives developers on Team 1 exposure to different platforms, and when they return to work on Pokemon they bring that new exposure with them. "I can now bring that knowhow back to the Pokemon team and try to create something different for Pokemon. It's a good synergy between Gear Project and Pokemon creation," Onoue explains.
This year Game Freak has two Nintendo Switch projects on the horizon, one is Pokemon Sword and Shield, the other is a Gear title simply called Town. Both games are going to showcase Game Freak's familiarity with the Nintendo Switch following the Pokemon Let's Go games.
For more coverage, check out our Pokemon Sword and Shield guide for everything we know about Game Freak's upcoming Pokemon Switch title.