Pokémon developers have ‘thicker skin’ for dealing with fans, says exec

Pokemon Pokémon developers thicker skin fan feedback vocal thick Game Freak Pokémon Company director of consumer marketing J.C. Smith Graveler Harden

Like any popular franchise with a dedicated following, Pokémon has fans who are vocal and impassioned, for better and for worse. Some of them are just deeply enthusiastic about a thing they love and want to see what’s best for the franchise, while others are pathetic man-children. Whatever end of that spectrum you fall on, Pokémon Company director of consumer marketing J.C. Smith says that Pokémon developers can handle the feedback. Smith explained to Axios that Pokémon developers have “thicker skin” as a result of dealing with fans.

“We have a group of creators and professionals working at the Pokémon Company that have been through a lot — seen, heard [a lot],” he said. “They have thicker skin than many people do because they’ve heard it.” This includes the “Dexit” fiasco from 2019, when some fans lost their marbles when it was revealed Pokémon Sword and Shield would not bring back every series critter.

Of course, even if the Pokémon developers do have “thicker skin” from fielding fan feedback, they also get to experience a lot of gratitude, such as the “ThankYouGameFreak” hashtag that trended after the launch of Sword and Shield. In any case, they are listening, and Smith also acknowledged that developers understand that some older fans are interested in more “sophisticated” games and storylines from the franchise. That may have factored into the development of Pokémon Legends: Arceus; however, Smith said they still have “focus on making the core accessible to everyone.”

One last interesting tidbit from the Axios discussion is that “character feel,” such as “cuddly” versus “fierce,” is what influences which Pokémon are selected for inclusion in marketing. There is also always an effort to ensure that each generation gets some degree of representation. That makes sense, considering the huge age range of Pokémon fans at this point. Heck, geneticists have provided fascinating, digestible breakdowns of how Thunder Stones have a basis in real-life science.


John Friscia
Head Copy Editor for Enthusiast Gaming, Managing Editor at The Escapist. I'm a writer who loves Super Nintendo and Japanese role-playing games to an impractical degree. I really miss living in South Korea. And I'm developing the game Boss Saga!