According to Masuda, the success of Pokémon Go inspired the company to think of Pokemon in a new way. “[R]eally we think it introduced a lot of people to Pokémon, the idea of catching Pokémon, the idea of a Pokéball,” he said. And because of that we really wanted to expand on that kind of idea of what a Pokémon RPG could be, something that’s broader, for everyone.”
That “something broader,” says Masuda, is “merging those two audiences into one game that we all can have fun and play.” The company has no desire to leave the 800 million downloads of Pokémon Go behind with their new RPG.
“[O]ne of the things we really focused on was that experience of allowing for, for example, parents to kind of go out and catch Pokémon for Pokémon Go and then give some of those to maybe their kid, who’s playing Let’s Go Pikachu on Switch for example,” Masuda said.
For this reason, Masuda is shaking up the formula with the Let’s Go games. “I’ve been the director on the main series Pokémon RPGs — most of them, up until now — and there are a lot of kind of core tenets or rules of the series that I’ve never broke up until now,” he said, citing battles to catch wild Pokémon as one example.
“That was one of the things that we just never wanted to change but, with these games specifically, I wanted to create a new experience for kids and with this time I decided to shift that towards more of a kind of casual, lighter experience.”
His hope is that hardcore players, rather than eschewing the Let’s Go games, will come together with new players to enjoy Pokémon. “[W]hat I really want to do with these games is prevent both of these types of players from going in different directions, and I’m hoping that these games will kind of bring them together,” Masuda said.
“So what would make me happiest would be if Pokémon Go players and traditional Pokémon RPG players actually come together and are throwing out Pokéballs together, either with the Joy-Con or using their smartphones, and really enjoying Pokémon together.”