Why Pokémon's #ThankYouGameFreak is trending

Pokmon developer Game Freak has had a tough time of it lately. The Japanese studio has faced a barrage of criticism online from players angry at certain aspects of the upcoming Pokmon Sword and Shield, with recent leaks exacerbating the issue.

Now, the hashtag “ThankYouGameFreak” is trending worldwide on Twitter – and people are using it to send positivity towards the embattled developer.

This week the Pokmon Company called off its Japanese launch event for Pokmon Sword and Shield, due to take next place in Tokyo next week. Junichi Masuda and Shigeru Ohmori, the series’ veteran lead producer and its game director, were both due to make an appearance.

In a statement apologising for the event’s cancellation, The Pokmon Company simply blamed “operational reasons”.

The hashtag ThankYouGameFreak is trending worldwide on Twitter.

Eurogamer’s Chris Tapsell spoke with both Masuda and Ohmori last month in a joint interview which discussed the pressure of pleasing Pokmon fans.

Much of the discussion around Sword and Shield has centred on the fact it does not include the series’ National Dex – AKA, every Pokmon ever made – for the first time.

The discourse around this has only heightened over the past week – as Pokmon Sword and Shield leaks from the game began to appear online. These details appeared to list the number of new species which will appear in the game, as well as which virtual creatures would not be returning this time round. The topic was labelled “#Dexit” by fans, a nod to Sword and Shield’s UK-inspired setting.

“Of course, you know, you see these sort of negative comments and it does, as a developer, make you feel a bit down about certain things,” Masuda told Eurogamer last month.

“But at the same time, you have to take criticism. For example with Pokmon Let’s Go, early on there were a lot of comments that it was too easy, or it was kind of a bit too ‘kid-focused’ and that sort of thing. That sort of comment is something you see, and you take on board, and really try and base improvements in the next game on the feedback you received from the last one.

“So, with regards to the Pokdex issue in particular that you’ve mentioned, that was something that was a really hard decision internally, there were a lot of discussions about which direction we should take that in, and ultimately we felt that, for the overall game, focusing on creating the richest experience we could within that game, leaving the Pokdex as we did was the best solution overall.”

Now, #ThankYouGameFreak is being used by thousands to tell positive stories about the developer’s games. It was started by Pokmon YouTuber MysticUmbreon, who tweeted after seeing death threats targeted at Game Freak staff.

“I created this hashtag to try and combat all the hate Game Freak is getting,” he said in the video, below.

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