Ever since Nintendo sheepishly embraced the world of online gaming they’ve had somewhat of a guarded approach. The convoluted Friend Code system of the Wii and DS has thankfully been replaced with a solitary code, linking friends similarly to that of Xbox Live and PSN. Online safety is paramount to Nintendo and even more so with their developers. Junichi Masuda, director of Game Freak, told MVC that he believes traditional boxed retail games offer a safer environment than predominantly online games. He was asked if there’s any pressure for him to change Pokémon because of the newfound popularity of social network games and those found on mobiles. Turns out he doesn’t feel any pressure at all. “What I consider to be most important when releasing a video game is to ensure it reaches everybody and to make sure it can be enjoyed by players safely and securely,” he said. “For example, Facebook and MSN are mainly for adults, but what’s very important is that everyone can enjoy a Pokémon game without feeling any fear. So that’s what I think about whenever I produce a new video game.”
Facebook in particular is notorious for having easily accessible games though their aims are more often than not about gaining more members and selling micro-transactions. This model can work for games with a varied age range but the constantly-connected nature and dubious privacy features of Facebook makes it easy for accounts to get hacked and information to leak. If you’re trying to maintain a position of the family entertainment system, security and a stricter control over the audience is key. Pokémon in all its forms is loved by almost every age of gamer. The trading card game, comics, anime and video games are just part of a massive franchise that continues to grow in strength with every new iteration.
In the past, Game Freak has expressed their reluctance and even refusal to make an MMO-like Pokémon game because the whole idea of trading and battling is to do it with friends in the same room, not separated by a telephone cable. It’s not always practical and to some seems dated but the newer games have all had online features yet Pokémon gatherings are still quite popular with Nintendo’s handhelds being perfect for the series. Masuda’s comments today echo those earlier statements and frankly, it hasn’t hindered the franchise in any way.