Quick! Who has made the mainline Pokémon games? That’s right, Game Freak. But some people think the answer is Nintendo. According to Junichi Masuda, lots of people do.
In a recent clip on Game Freak’s official YouTube Channel, Masuda recalled how when Pokémon first came out, it was called a Nintendo game. While the game was released on Nintendo hardware and while Nintendo is involved in publishing, Nintendo did not make Pokémon.
The relationship between Game Freak, Nintendo, Creatures, and the Pokémon Company is rather complex. But as Nintendo World Report explains, Nintendo does the game publishing and distribution, Creatures handles the cards (though it also does games), Game Freak develops the games, and the Pokémon Company seems to handle everything else and have its fingers in all aspects. Granted, this is an oversimplification. Game Freak has released its games on non-Nintendo hardware, including the Mega Drive, PC Engine, Windows, and the PS4.
Plus, Nintendo, of course, does make spin-off games like Pokémon Stadium. Other studios have also developed Pokémon spin-offs, including Jupiter and Spike Chunsoft. However...
“I’ve asked about 200 people who they thought made Pokémon,” Masuda said, adding that almost 100 percent said Nintendo. “Even now, there are those people who think I’m a Nintendo employee.” This notion is so pervasive that when Masuda goes back to his hometown, he’ll overhear people express disbelief to each other that he is actually Junichi Masuda, saying, “Someone from Nintendo would never come to a place like this.”
So remember, Game Freak has made the mainline Pokémon games! Also, I’m sure someone from Nintendo would visit Masuda’s hometown.