Hype Killer: The New Pokémon Game
Being a fan is great, and hype over the slightest hint about a possible rumor that something regarding your fandom just might happen is all part of the fun. But sometimes it's nice to take a step back and look at things from a wider lens. In this new series Hype Killer I take a step back and try to deflate some of the hype going on. And for my first entry I'm going to try to derail the biggest hype train of all: Pokémon.
As you're all probably aware if you're reading this article, it has been confirmed that Game Freak is working on a new main line Pokémon game for the Nintendo Switch. And to be honest, that's all we know to be true. There have been "leaks" and "sources" revealing new things daily, and I'm pretty sure it's 99% false. I mean, heck, clickbait sites are pretty much ripping off articles for the Guardian news site, and I'm pretty sure that Guardian is just copy and pasting from some Gamefaq thread.
Now, I try to stay on top of the rumors - mostly for fun - but here is what everyone seems to agree on:
- That the new entry will be announced officially at E3
- That it will be released for the Holidays of 2018
- The new game will be called Pokémon Stars
Personally, I don't think any of that is true. I'll provide as much evidence as these sources provide in their leaks (which is none), and instead offer my thoughts as to why these are probably wrong.
Why I Don't Believe the new Pokémon Game will be Announced at E3
This one is pretty simple: It's not part of Nintendo's modus operandi. Nintendo does announce many things at Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). The new Metroid Prime entry, Smash Brothers 4 (with an epic Megaman reveal), Splatoon and others. Usually, Pokemon related announcements are made through their Nintendo Directs, videos on their YouTube channel that contain a slew of announcements.
Now, that's not to say Nintendo doesn't talk Pokémon at all at E3, but generally, it's usually just a new trailer of sorts after the game has already been announced, and the games are usually announced in the late Winter or Early Spring of the year that they go on sale. Actual game reveals - full reveals with the titles, some gameplay footage, and a rough timeline for when they release - are done through their Pokémon Directs specials.
"But Nigel, Nintendo doesn't do E3 press conferences. Technically it is a Nintendo Direct!" True, but Nintendo still would announce it way before E3. It's Pokémon. They like to announce it earlier in the year it's being released so they can do a Pokémon Direct every two months until release, not three months before release like Yo-Kai Watch. The closest we've ever had to an E3 Pokémon announcement was last year when it was announced that a main series Pokémon game was in development, and that is it. That is all they told us, and it was just tacked on to a larger discussion about Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon.
So what will Nintendo announce this year at E3? The new Smash Bros game will dominate most of the coverage likely, but there's Metroid Prime 4, new footage for the Octo Expansion DLC, additions to the Amiibo lineup, if we're lucky, a new Fire Emblem Game, and a ton of Nindies. Personally, I want a Yo-Kai Watch 3 announcement too, but that might be saved for the Treehouse event like the Yo-Kai Watch 2 announcement was. But Pokémon? We might get more info about Zeraora if we're lucky, but that's about it.
It is not scheduled for Release in Holiday 2018
Nope. I mean, maybe it is but probably not. We still don't know for sure. The biggest thing going on right now regarding this rumor is that Game Freak is hiring for its localization team. But with worldwide releases, localization no longer occurs after development. It's actually part of development. All hiring for the localization team does is confirm what we already knew - a Pokémon game for the Nintendo Switch is in development!
In all fairness, there are other things that have fueled this rumor - besides clickbait sites, Youtubers, and forums - is a so-called "leaked" image.
You guys do know what a mod is? Yeah, a guy pretty much just modded Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon to mimic a route in Kanto, and took a screenshot, or a photo of the image on his computer. Yeah, it's a higher resolution than the 3DS, but that's because the software scales the image. Pokemon Sun and Moon were made in high definition, but the 3DS scales it down. Play it on an emulator however, you could get glorious 720p or even 1080p gameplay depending on your settings.
The fact is, we don't know when the game is coming out. Nintendo won't even know until Game Freak tells them. Game Freak is a third party company. They license the franchise to other developers periodically, notably HAL Labs, but Nintendo doesn't "hire them" to make Pokémon games. The only influence Nintendo has is as a stakeholder in The Pokémon Company, which might be regularly begging Game Freak to finish the project sooner.
Speaking of stakeholders, the closest we have to a possible announcement is the Nintendo Stakeholders Review that happened. An event where investors pour over the numbers and can ask any question of Nintendo's leadership. Usually, the information package investors receive includes - among other things - upcoming games and tentative release dates. Last year, this list included Pokémon Switch, listed at "2018 or later" which meant last year, the company didn't have confidence in a 2018 release. This year, that date has not changed, meaning they aren't willing to tell investors to shovel more money in their company expecting a Pokemon release.
Investors aren't going to want to know every individual title coming out on the system. Most of them might not even be familiar with most titles. Generally, they are concerned with 1st Party IPs, and some really big name 3rd Party properties that tend to be Nintendo exclusive. Pokémon is not only known as a console mover, but also does very well in sales with most buyers over the age of 18 buying both versions of the game. A Pokémon release would lift investor confidence in the already successful Switch, but Nintendo also tries to do what it can to ensure it's investors have accurate information. If there is release for Pokémon Switch scheduled, that would have come out in the investor's meeting. But my personal speculation is that Nintendo is expecting a 2019 release instead.
The Game Will (Probably) not be Titled "Pokémon Stars"
Seriously? People are still holding onto this one? This comes from an old Eurogamer article. To this day Eurogamer says Pokémon Stars for Switch was in the works, but Nintendo changed directions and released Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon instead.
Development of cancelled titles is costly. I highly doubt there was ever a plan to make a Pokémon Stars game. The fact is, we don't know. It could be "Pokémon Stars." It could be "Let's Go Pikachu." It could be "Super Ultra Pokémon Fighting Edition Prime Alpha II."
None of the leakers so far have a proven track record. Mostly right now we're hearing from leakers who got lucky once and are using the hype train to remain relevant to direct views to their Patreon or Paypal or whatever they're using.
All we know is that whatever they call it, we're still going to buy two copies and play them both to completion.
But Wait! There's More...?
Okay, that's really all for now, but this hype train is moving pretty fast. I might write another article later as more rumors and "leaks" surface. Remember, it's okay to be excited about things that bring you joy, but don't get so caught up in the hype that you can't enjoy these things. It's Pokémon, not "No Man's Sky." Let's not get ourselves stuck in a situation where we're expecting something we were never promised.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go watch a Youtube Video because Ed Boon tweeted something that confirms Mortal Kombat 11 will be the absolute best thing ever.