Game Freak has been developing games in the Pokémon series since 1996, which led to them creating the most profitable media venture of all time. There is tremendous pressure on Game Freak to keep making new Pokémon games, but it has been revealed that the company is prioritizing original titles in order to ensure that the developers don't grow weary from working on the series.
Game Freak has been developing games since the release of Mendel Palace in 1989, but the company hit it big in 1996 when Pokémon Red & Green became popular in Japan and spawned a global media empire. The success of the Pokémon franchise meant that Game Freak would mostly make Pokémon games going forward, but things started to change during the Nintendo 3DS era, when they started to release more original titles, such as HarmoKnight and Pocket Card Jockey.
It seems that games outside of the Pokémon franchise are equally as important within Game Freak, as programmer Masayuki Onoue told the Video Games Chronicle that there are different production teams within the company, and the one that takes care of original titles is being prioritized over the one that makes Pokémon games.
"There are two different production teams here, simply named Production Team 1 and Production Team 2,” Onoue explained. “Team 1 is fully dedicated to Gear Project, while Team 2 is for the Pokémon operation.”
“What that means is that Game Freak as a company is prioritising Gear Project, which is production team number one, more than Pokémon in general. We are always trying to create something that is equally exciting, or more exciting than Pokémon.
One Game Freak title that exists outside of Pokémon is Giga Wrecker, which is a rare example of a Game Freak game that was released on non-Nintendo systems. Giga Wrecker was originally released for PC back in 2016, but a new version of the game called Giga Wrecker Alt. has been released for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, along with the Nintendo Switch. Game Freak has had most of its success working with Nintendo, but the company is still interested in branching out and working with other publishers.
The Pokémon franchise has often been accused of spinning its wheels since the days of Pokémon Ruby & Sapphire, with the series seemingly averse to taking any kinds of risk. It's for the best that there are production groups within Game Freak that allow the developers to step away from the Pokémon series for a time, as it means that they can return with fresh ideas and a new perspective for later titles.