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Pokemon devs forced to have 'thicker skin' from dealing with fan expectations

Pokemon Company director of consumer marketing J.C. Smith said it takes resolve to balance what fans want and angry feedback with studio vision.

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Being a game dev isn’t easy, especially when you’re working on an established series with expectations from players. However, with Pokemon, it seems especially difficult. The franchise has been around for 25 years and developed a healthy roster of pocket monsters and mechanics for which fans have developed a wide variety of favorites. According to Pokemon Company director of consumer marketing J.C. Smith, this has resulted in an environment where the devs have thicker skin when it comes to dealing with balancing angry feedback and studio direction.

J.C. Smith recently spoke with Axios in a short interview regarding development on the Pokemon franchise. With the remakes Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl coming up, as well as Pokemon Legends: Arceus around the corner, fans of Pokemon have a lot to look forward to. However, it hasn’t come without some angry criticism on both games from loud and pushy ends of the Pokemon community.

According to J.C. Smith, dealing with angry fans who expect a lot is unfortunately part of the gig.

“We have a group of creators and professionals working at the Pokémon Company that have been through a lot — seen, heard [a lot],” Smith said. “They have thicker skin than many people do because they’ve heard it.”

Pokemon Sword and Shield was also a good example of this. Where the game was quite good for the most part and introduced some really fun stuff, as we pointed out in our Shacknews review, there was no lack of player criticism over matters like replacing the Pokemon Bank system and not including a larger number of the franchise’s 898 total Pokemon. Even so, Smith insists it’s not that the team isn’t listening to fans. They are, but they also have to search for middle ground studio plans and fan wants.

“There's also a vision for what the creators want to provide, and it's [a matter of] finding that delicate balance throughout,” Smith explained. “We try to focus on making the core accessible to everyone.”

Pokemon Shining Diamond and Brilliant Pearl launch this November while Pokemon Legends: Arceus comes out in late January. Stay tuned for more coverage as we get closer to the release dates of both these games and more Pokemon 25th anniversary goods.

Senior News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player and writer with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. He found his way to the Shacknews roster in late 2019 and has worked his way to Senior News Editor since. Between news coverage, he also aides notably in livestream projects like the indie game-focused Indie-licious, the Shacknews Stimulus Games, and the Shacknews Dump. You can reach him at tj.denzer@shacknews.com and also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

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