In a recent 4Gamer interview, Pokémon art director Ken Sugimori and director Tetsuya Watanabe spoke about Pokémon developer Game Freak’s recent growth during the development of Pokémon X and Y. They also talked about why we’ve yet to see any Pokémon we could purchase through DLC or other means that involve real-life currency purchase.
“When it comes to business, the one thing I’ve always said ‘no!’ to is ‘the act of buying Pokémon with money,’” says Sugimori. “That is something that has been said since the days [Satoshi] Tajiri was completely involved in everything.”
“The reason being, is because it’s one of things that could ‘ruin the worldview’ of Pokémon,” Sugimori continues. “I believe the reason we don’t simply commercialize [Pokémon], is that it’s a way of protecting the brand, and for this purpose, we have the specialty company called The Pokémon Company. Therefore, suppose we sell a Pokémon for 100 yen, then we must prepare something that is worthy of that 100 yen, along with a reasonable consent for doing so.”
4Gamer then asks about why it’s permitted for them to give away legendary Pokémon for fans who catch the Pokémon movies in theaters.
“That plan came to be after we thought ‘now, this is fun’ about the idea of having the experience of a Pokémon who was featured in the movie you just saw, appear out of the big screen,” explains Sugimori. “After trying it out, we had plenty of thoughts [on the matter] and it was well received, and we also had a lot to talk about.”
“It’s not that we only want to distribute [Pokémon], but we want to give our customers a taste of a ‘new experience,’” Sugimori elaborates. “Whatever we do, we make sure it fits the worldview, and make sure it remains consistent. Those are some of the parts we place a great amount of importance into.”
4Gamer asks the art director to share more details about “remaining consistent”.
“For example, if you’re wondering about how the idea of ‘walking around having your Pokémon inside a Poké Ball’ came to be, it’s because the ‘vision of having monsters following your character’ was actually quite difficult to perform for the Game Boy hardware,” reveals Sugimori. “However, it was strange to not have a reason for why there’s nothing behind you, so it was the decision of ‘then let’s just put them in your pocket!’ that made it possible. I’d say that closely tying the game’s structure and its worldview is our way of doing things.”
That being said, however, it doesn’t mean we won’t ever see Pokémon available for purchase in the future.
Sugimoto concludes, “If we ever get the idea of ‘this could be fun if we could sell it for real-life money,’ or something similar during the planning of a future game, then perhaps we could sell them for 100 yen.”
“The game Darumeshi Sports Shop we recently released, is very interesting,” adds Watanabe. “The game itself allows you to lower the price you pay. I thought the idea behind it was amusing, and the system of having payments be part of the game itself, was a very nice experiment.”