Pokemon taking 2024 off is the right move

Some time out of the spotlight is exactly what the Pokemon games need right now.

The Pokemon Company
1

Despite Pokemon being my favorite video game franchise, I breathed a sigh of relief this morning when Game Freak announced that its next title, Pokemon Legends: Z-A, would be released in 2025. Not because this year is already packed with high-profile releases or because I don’t care for the Legends spin-off series, but because The Pokemon Company’s determination to churn out a major Pokemon release every calendar year has put a clear strain on the quality of games and soured the franchise’s overall perception.

Although 2024 is shaping up to be a rather quiet year for Nintendo, it felt like a foregone conclusion that Game Freak would have something Pokemon-related shipping in the franchise’s usual fall window. We learned during the latest Pokemon Presents showcase that that won’t be the case after all. It’ll be the first year since 2015 without either a new major Pokemon game or DLC release. It’s a decision that’ll undoubtedly benefit fans and Game Freak alike in the long run.

The trainer Amarys in Pokemon Scarlet and Violet.
The Indigo Disk DLC was released in late 2023, seemingly wrapping up major new content for Pokemon Scarlet and Violet.
Source: The Pokemon Company

While you could argue that the quality of Pokemon games never managed to hit the high bar of the DS era during the Switch’s reign, sales said otherwise. Pokemon Sword and Shield sold a staggering 26 million units on the hybrid console, granting them the distinction of being the second best-selling Pokemon games behind the original trio of Game Boy games that kicked all of this off in 1996.

Long regarded as a “review-proof” franchise, frustrations with the Pokemon cycle reached a boiling point with the release of Pokemon Scarlet and Violet in 2022. The most recent games in the series and the first truly open-world Pokemon games were marred by egregious performance issues. I said that the games were “bogged down by unacceptable performance problems at every single turn” in my review.

While it wasn’t the first time that the community had negative feedback upon the release of a new game, the backlash to Scarlet and Violet was so strong that it warranted a rare acknowledgment from Game Freak.

While that admittedly milquetoast statement didn’t say much, it was the first indication that Game Freak and The Pokemon Company were actually considering the harsh criticisms that it received from the games and that it might factor into future decision-making for the franchise.

I’d like to believe this is why we aren’t getting a new Pokemon game this year. That Tsunekazu Ishihara, Shigeru Ohmori, or somebody else in a position of power said “Enough is enough.” That Game Freak and The Pokemon Company are fine with letting the franchise fall out of the spotlight for a year if it means delivering a game that consistently runs at higher than 20 frames per second and can properly render Pokemon from more than 10 feet away. Scarlet and Violet may have moved over 23 million units, but it’s only a matter of time until harsh backlash and bad press translate to decreased sales.

On the other hand, it’s quite plausible that Pokemon Legends: Z-A was originally planned for 2024, and simply moved to 2025 to coincide with the release of the next Nintendo Switch console, which is rumored to have been quietly delayed out of a fall 2024 release window. This is also good. If Game Freak is looking to align the release of Pokemon Legends: Z-A with improved hardware, it could only mean good things for the technical quality of the RPG.

Cyndaquil, Oshawott, and Rowlet.
Pokemon Legends: Arceus was one of two Pokemon games released in 2022 and was praised for departing from the series' formula.
Source: The Pokemon Company

A year off means more time for Game Freak to give its new Pokemon Legends game the tender love and care it deserves. It also means an extra year to build excitement and anticipation among fans and give them something to look forward to. The recent DLC releases for Scarlet and Violet were just a reminder of how much potential was squandered with the Generation 9 titles.

While the February 2024 Pokemon Presents may have felt like a bit of a nothing burger, I saw it as a refreshing change of pace from the onslaught of Pokemon games that we’ve been subjected to over the past half-decade. A barrage of releases that felt like it was all about quantity and capitalizing on the Switch’s success over quality. Taking a year off can make all the difference for an oversaturated game series—it worked wonders for the Assassin’s Creed games in the mid 2010s. So I say cheers to no new Pokemon games in 2024, and let’s hope that Pokemon Legends: Z-A can be a positive turning point and a return to form in 2025.

News Editor

Donovan is a young journalist from Maryland, who likes to game. His oldest gaming memory is playing Pajama Sam on his mom's desktop during weekends. Pokémon Emerald, Halo 2, and the original Star Wars Battlefront 2 were some of the most influential titles in awakening his love for video games. After interning for Shacknews throughout college, Donovan graduated from Bowie State University in 2020 with a major in broadcast journalism and joined the team full-time. He is a huge Scream nerd and film fanatic that will talk with you about movies and games all day. You can follow him on twitter @Donimals_

From The Chatty
Hello, Meet Lola
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news