#GameFreakLied: How Some Pokémon Fans Are Dealing With Loss

If you follow Pokémon at all, you may have noticed that #gamefreaklied was trending this week. There are only a few reviews out (like many outlets, we haven’t received review code yet) and the game won’t be out until tomorrow, but right now a lot of Pokémon fans are very mad. Their anger is over a myriad of issues, from things like framerate to whether or not models were imported from the last game, fueled by posts made by alleged dataminers who’ve gotten their hands on the game early. These fans have been going over every inch of this game with a fine toothed comb, looking for anything out of place, and have latched onto the character models.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/ywa98m/gamefreaklied-how-some-pokemon-fans-are-dealing-with-loss

Pokemon fans are terrifying, is what I’ve learned from this whole thing.


So, a quick note here. One of the posts that got the most ridicule, the one featuring a red circle about how the textures got fuzzy, is by a guy who is now talking about self harm after realizing what he’s gotten himself into. I can’t find the original post now, but there were a lot of devs rightly pointing out how shitty this behavior was, and how this is bad for his future career.

Just be aware about the whole situation. I’d say it’s probably the most wise to disconnect from the whole thing. Let the game come out and then hear the crit later.


I was genuinely unaware of how passionately some folks felt about this issue until I spoke with a teenager who was all in on #gamefreaklied - I can’t imagine taking the dex that seriously… I’ve always enjoyed starting fresh with a new generation game, getting my kicks, beating the elite four, and then I usually put it down for years before hopping in and clearing the save to do another run.

Do you even get anything for catching them all, beyond a thumbs up from the Professor?


Depends on the game. I think in Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon you get some kind of thing that increases your chance of finding Shiny Pokemon, which are sort of the ultimate “hardcore Pokemon player” status symbol.

This is one of those things that happen when you’re plugged into an echo chamber of similar obsessives, I think. All it takes is a handful of people for whom collecting the full national dex is the game to start complaining, and then it snowballs into people who maybe care a little bit about it, into people who really only wanted to carry over specific favourites from earlier games and are now afraid they won’t be able to, etc., etc.

These “controversies” definitely happened before Reddit, Twitter, and Facebook, but the nature of like-driven visibility algorithms causes them to get amplified a lot wider and more quickly than they would have before. Plus, you know, there’s the whole thing where constant outrage about SOMETHING is just the default mode of people who self-identify as gamers now. Sometimes, it’s justified (lootboxes), sometimes it’s not (most of the things gamers get mad about other than lootboxes).


Good lord.

15 characters.


The combination of this and the conspiracy theories about Blizzard rapidly assembling all of their past Blizzcon promo material in basically 1 month to combat their current PR crisis, is a giant reminder of how many people know almost nothing about the game development pipeline.

In order to create a whole new mainline Pokemon game with console-level HD assets, massive sacrifices had to be made. Whenever the devs have said “we’re doing this to put resources towards animation and character model quality”, they’re very likely talking about adjusting to that HD pipeline, which nearly every Japanese developer struggled with during the previous console generation.


Really wish I had not become aware of the word ‘dexit’


This is exactly what I assume happened, particularly for a team who had spent so much time on Nintendo’s handhelds.

I think a lot of the people focusing on the models are also discounting just how much work goes into pokemon on the mechanical side, especially when they’ve spoken about, and shown, an increased interest in the competitive scene. Even if you’re only balancing the highest stages, every pokemon needs their moveset reassessed, their abilities looked at and possibly changed, their stats looked at, and how all of this interacts with their typing, and all of this in reference to every other pokemon in the competitive scene. And then you have items like Eviolite that make non-evolved pokemon viable and that increases that workload enormously. This kind of work can’t just be outsourced or put on people new to the team (not that any other work can be, necessarily), and doesn’t account for mechanics like Megas and Z moves fans are sad to see go, or the Dynamax and Gigantamax stuff that takes their place. This all becomes more difficult the more pokemon you add. Which is what it is, because the fact is Game Freak didn’t remove however many Pokemon, they added hundreds that wouldn’t have been there otherwise. There is no version of this game that had every pokemon that they cut in half while twirling their figurative moustaches.

And then they still need to design the new region and pokemon and characters, make new assets and animations for those. And then populate the world with trainers who need coherent teams and dialogue localised into a bunch of different languages. And decide which items to place where, and which pokemon will appear where and what level they’ll be. It’s a lot of work, and introducing new members to the team isn’t necessarily going to make it go any faster, and the publisher is loath to allow a longer timeframe because of other merchandise being already lined up. Even if they could take longer, that costs more wages, which bosses don’t want to pay. It seems like a huge failure of empathy and appreciation for the work that actually goes into these games to be so angry that some pokemon won’t make it into this title.


This speaks to a problem that more and more developers will have going forward. As games get longer and longer tails and adopt service models the divide between the new players, moderately interested players, and the hard core is going to get bigger and bigger. I consider myself a Pokemon fan. I watched the anime, played the TCG, and have played most of the games. And yet when the Dexit thing first happened I did not know about the national dex, did not care that it wasn’t supported, and didn’t really understand why you would even want it. But apparently for segment of the fandom large enough to dominate r/pokemon it was an absolute disaster. That’s a huge gap between two different subsets of the fandom.

You’re seeing the same thing with Destiny. The difference in desires between “people who like Destiny” and “people who live for Destiny” is immense and designing content for both of those groups is a huge challenge. And that’s without even addressing the problem of onboarding new players.

Unfortunately we’re likely going to see more Dexit style outrages as the game as a service trend expands.

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Plus, as Bethesda has discovered, service games are a great way to turn one (debatably) bad game into years of bad PR.

Man, I just want to find badass looking monsters, befriend them, and then go be cool as hell together.

Obsession over the sheer number of Pokemon seems in pretty stark contrast to that, as well as unfun, iunno


I seriously wonder why so many studios took the gamble of live service games. You either make it, or you are completely forgotten and no one plays your game.

With old standards like Bethesda used to have, ES and Single player Fallout, they could guarantee an audience no matter how clunky their game was because they were loyal.

If I was a money guy, I feel like the odds on better on live service games are terrible.


At least they didn’t go with dex-gate. Bolting the word “gate” onto controversies is one of the cringier shorthands of our times.