This week, Nintendo announced the latest pair of games in the Pokemon franchise, Pokemon X and Y. These are the first the company will release for the Nintendo 3DS; X&Y will also be the first global simultaneous launch of the franchise in its history, when it launches around the world this October.
The game follows quickly in the footsteps of Pokemon Black & White 2, the franchise's first direct sequels, which were released last October in Western markets. It will have to sell very well to match up to Pokemon Black & White, which were released in the West 2011 and had massive launches in Japan, the UK, and the U.S. -- some of the franchise's most successful.
To find out more about the future of Pokemon, and Nintendo subsidiary The Pokemon Company's expectations for the latest installment, Gamasutra spoke to J.C. Smith, consumer marketing director for The Pokemon Company International.
How long has the game been in development?
The development has been a long time coming, and Game Freak has been intensely focused on it since the launch of Pokemon Black 2 and Pokemon White 2 launched last October in the U.S. and Europe.
Has the team changed much from prior installments?
The team at Game Freak is being led by video game director Junichi Masuda who, as you probably know, has been with the company since its inception. The team has grown since then, but I don’t know the exact number of employees who worked on the games.
X&Y is a departure from the "color" theme of previous game titles. Does this mark a new beginning for the series? Can you talk about the meaning of X&Y?
That’s something Game Freak may answer down the road. I can say that the names help unify the experience internationally because they’re the same worldwide. This is the first time Pokemon titles have launched simultaneously around the world.
Why did the company pursue a global simultaneous release? Purely due to fan outcry, or is there more to this strategy?
The localization process takes a lot of effort and planning, so we’ve been working towards this goal for quite some time. We’re confident that players around the world with appreciate being able to experience the games at the same time, with the ability to discover, train, and battle Pokemon in unison.
Nintendo president Satoru Iwata recently said that social media drastically improved sales of Animal Crossing in Japan. Is there a social media strategy, or even functionality, built into X&Y?
Pokemon is an inherently social gaming experience. From the trading card game to video games, our aim is to bring players together. We launched our official Facebook and Twitter presence for Pokemon in North America last year and social media will be part of our strategy for communication and community going forward.