Game Freak‘s Junichi Masuda has said he will step away from directing mainline Pokemon games following Let’s Go‘s release. Masuda announced the move in an interview blog from The Pokemon Company. He will remain with the company, and continue serving on Game Freak’s board of directors.
Masuda revealed his reasons to direct Pokemon Let’s Go, and his decision to move away from directing future titles during the interview.
“I was the one who worked on the base game concept document for Pokemon Go, and even in that original concept, I had the idea of introducing new Pokemon through the mobile game. […] Given my involvement in Pokemon Go‘s development I felt that I was probably the best person to direct these games. […] But at the same time, it’s important to have the younger generation at Game Freak take over the development of Pokemon as a series. I do believe this will probably be, in terms of the main Pokemon RPGs, the last time that I work as the director.”
Masuda’s intention to let the younger generation take over direction on Pokemon titles has already started. The last mainline Pokemon titles directed by Masuda were X and Y, which released in 2013. Pokemon Sun and Moon were directed by Shigeru Ohmori, who also directed Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. Most “second version” games, like Pokemon Platinum and Emerald, have been directed by other Game Freak employees.
Junichi Masuda has worked at Game Freak since the company formed in 1989. Originally serving a a composer, Masuda helped program Red and Blue. Following that game’s success, he co-directed Gold and Silver, while also serving as a composer and designer. He would go on to serve as director, composer, and designer on Ruby and Sapphire, and FireRed and LeafGreen. He served as director, composer, and producer for Diamond and Pearl, Black and White, and X and Y. Masuda has been an integral part of the Pokemon development team from the very beginning, and he will continue to be important for its future direction.
Pokemon Let’s Go will be the first Pokemon RPG for the Nintendo Switch, and it is being designed to draw Pokemon Go players to the franchise. The game refocuses on the original 151 Pokemon and the Kanto region from Red and Blue.