Junichi Masuda, Game Freak’s head and co-founder, is stepping down from the company. Masuda will join The Pokemon Company as Chief Creative Fellow after more than 30 years with Game Freak, where he intends to “elevate the limits of video games.” Masuda’s leave was announced on the main site of the Japanese Pokemon Company. Masuda gave no reason for his decision, but it appears that he wants to work on some other Pokemon-related things besides video games. He will use his knowledge of the Pokemon brand to “create new services and products” at the organization, according to the Pokemon Company.
Masuda was a key figure in the design and creation of the Pokémon franchise. He began his career as a programmer on the original Pokémon Red/Blue and rose through the ranks to become the director of the mainstream series from Pokémon Ruby & Sapphire through Pokémon X and Y. In addition to these tasks, he was closely involved in the creation of the series’ music, as well as the naming and design of many of the Pokemon. He’s now in a significantly more powerful position, having overall responsibility for the Pokémon franchise.
Why Junichi Masuda Left & His New Role?
Along with Satoshi Tajiri and Ken Sugimori, Masuda is one of Game Freak’s three founders. The trio would be in charge of the production of the Pokemon franchise, which is still the world’s most commercially successful media phenomenon today. Masuda made it apparent in 2018 that he was ready to step away from directing Pokémon games, informing the official Pokémon website that Let’s Go, Pikachu and Let’s Go, Eevee will be his final games. He wanted Game Freak’s “youth of today” to get a chance to work on the series.
He officially departed the studio, but not the company, four years later. Taking on the prestigious post of Chief Creative Fellow at The Pokémon Company, it appears that his responsibility will be to continue his innovative approach to the pocket monsters. This new title gives him significantly more authority over all aspects of Pokémon, including the card game, film adaptations, brand management, comics, and so on.
Given Masuda’s active engagement with the series since its beginning, this is a big shift for mainline Pokémon games as well. It implies that Pokémon Scarlet & Violet would be the first main entry in the series without Masuda’s involvement, giving newer designers a better chance to stamp their mark on the games.
Junichi Masuda On His New Role
After taking the new post, Junichi Masuda expressed his heartfelt gratitude to all Pokémon lovers in a statement. Going forward, he hopes to push the horizons of video games by attempting to provide more surprises, joy, and thrill to people all over the world, all while doing everything he can to connect people, broaden the circle of “play,” and contribute to a richer universe for us to share. In his new role, he thanks the fans’ continuous support.
Of course, even though Masuda isn’t designing new Pokemon games any longer but that doesn’t mean he’s forgotten about the series. Masuda’s most recent Pokemon game credit is as an advisor on the rather awesome Pokemon Legends: Arceus. But he was also a director and musician on 2021’s Pokemon Terrific Diamond & Shining Pearl, which aided the Nintendo Switch set a new weekly annual sales in the UK and Europe at the time it was released.
What’s Next For Junichi Masuda And Pokemon Games?
We’ll have to wait a while to find out what Junichi Masuda plans to do as The Chief Creative Fellow, but we really do know what’s ahead for the series as a whole. Pokemon Scarlet & Violet, the next big Pokemon game, will be released on October 18th on Nintendo Switch. Masuda will almost undoubtedly be engaged in those games in an administrative or production position, even if he won’t be directing them. In his new post at The Pokemon Company, he’ll almost certainly continue to oversee and define the franchise’s creative direction.
Junichi Masuda’s new role in the Pokemon franchise will have to be seen to be believed. If you enjoy the route Pokemon has been going under Masuda’s attentive eye, you may rest confident that not much will change in the near future. If not, this may not be the huge makeover you were hoping for. Masuda’s change in management leaves the position open at Game Freak, but no one has been named to fill it. Whoever it is, though, will have a significant role to play on Game Freak’s side.