Who owns Pokémon? It’s the big question that often results in a complicated answer, but Game Freak co-founder Junichi Masuda was more than pleased to do his best to help explain the relationship between the brand and the companies that are connected to it.
It started with Nintendo, Game Freak and Creatures. In short, Nintendo is responsible for selling the games, Game Freak is responsible for developing all the main Pokémon games, and Creatures used to act as a producer – although they now mainly look after the Pokémon Trading Card Game.
“Game Freak? We develop all the main Pokémon games. Originally, Creatures, they were the producers of the game. Nintendo was the seller of the games – the distributor. So that was the original structure of Pokémon games. In terms of who owns the rights to the games, it’s these three companies,” Masuda explained to Game Informer in their September issue.
In the simplest terms, that sees Nintendo, Game Freak and Creatures each have one-third ownership over the brand.
He adds: “It’s a little more complicated than that in certain scenarios, like for example, the producing role that Creatures originally held went to The Pokémon Company, and a percentage of the rights went with that so there are certain complications, and it depends on the project, but there is no situation where Nintendo and The Pokémon Company will put pressure on Game Freak or something like that.”
Masuda sees Game Freak’s relationship with Nintendo as a friendship, which is largely why Pokémon games – aside from mobile spin-off titles – only ever see release on their platforms.
“Everyone really knows Nintendo; there is a familiarity with the brand, and they have that really strong brand and Pokémon being associated with that and being affiliated with that brand is very important,” he continues.
But, is there a chance that Pokémon could eventually come to other platforms? Masuda doesn’t believe that is likely to ever happen.
“With Pokémon, at least, we really feel it is really important to be with Nintendo, specifically with the Pokémon titles, so I don’t think that would ever happen,” Masuda closed.