In a recent interview, Game Freak game director Masayuki Onoue talked about how Game Freak will be prioritizing their game pitch initiative Gear Project in order to inject new learning experiences and take breaks from Pokémon, so that they can return to the series refreshed. [Thanks, VGC!]
To give some background on Gear Project, most of Game Freak’s side games in recent years, such as HarmoKnight, Pocket Card Jockey, Giga Wrecker, Tembo the Badass Elephant, and the upcoming Town are the result of creators pitching in video game ideas during development downtime, no matter their position within the company.
According to Onoue, “There are two different production teams here, simply named Production Team 1 and Production Team 2. Team 1 is fully dedicated to Gear Project, while Team 2 is for the Pokémon operation.”
Moving forward, Team 1 will be prioritized more in general, as Game Freak want to create other games that could potentially be as exciting as Pokémon. It’s not as stiff as it sounds though, as Onoue made it clear there’s a lot of back and forth between the teams, letting developers try working on different consoles, or in other roles such as the director position, giving them a different perspective and gaining more experience. In a way, Onoue adds, Gear Project has helped him be more creative, which he can also use when working on Pokémon.
Finally, Onoue mentioned that a new ‘R&D division’ has been created at Game Freak, which is how they are working on multiple console titles at once. “R&D is a newly founded division which is creating the basic library, which used to be created every single time we made a project. That helps the efficiency of our production for sure,” said Onoue.