With E3 around the corner, gamers are looking for any hints or news ahead of the largest video game conference in the country. Speculation and rumors surrounding a brand new Pokémon game have really ramped up in May, but are Pokémon fans expecting too much?
Predicting when Nintendo or GameFreak will announce the latest installment of the Pokémon franchise is a tough order. There’s a lengthy precedent for Pokémon announcements before E3 but there’s also no discernable pattern for these announcements.
There’s many factors in Nintendo’s game plan for its future, especially the first E3 after the release of the Nintendo Switch. At this point, all we can do is sort through all the rumors and fluff, and hopefully expectations won’t get too high.
WHY THERE WILL BE AN ANNOUNCEMENT BEFORE E3
The biggest argument for a new Pokémon announcement is that there has been some sort of announcement every May. Joe Merrick of Serebii notes since 2005, the only year without a Pokémon video game announcement was 2011.
Many have taken this to believe that there is to be another video game announcement this May. And to clarify, these announcements have not been strictly limited to the main games, but include spin-offs like the Mystery Dungeon series.
But since the potential mainline series entry Pokémon Stars is the hot topic right now let’s look at when the main Pokémon games were announced going back to 2008.
- Pokemon Platinum – May 2008
- Pokemon Black and White – April 2010 (release date was March 2011)
- Black 2 and White 2 – February 2012
- Pokemon X and Y – January 2013
- Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire – May 2014
- Pokémon Sun and Moon – February 2016
Since 2008, any two-year gap between Pokémon releases was immediately followed up by a yearly release.
Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire (2014) released a year after X and Y (2013) but Sun and Moon released two years after ORAS in 2016. If another Pokémon game debuts in 2018 that would be the first time Pokémon games were released in that manner. The pattern would suggest we should to receive a game in 2017.
Nintendo has also deleted the Sun and Moon Nintendo Direct from its YouTube channels and from the Nintendo Direct archives. It’s a curious move by Nintendo/GameFreak and only fuels the fire of speculation surrounding Pokémon Stars.
WHY THERE WON’T BE AN ANNOUNCEMENT
The biggest reason to doubt any possible Pokémon announcement coming before E3 is that Nintendo would use the event to focus on the Switch and the unannounced games coming in 2017 and beyond. There will be a spotlight on certain 3DS titles but like last year with Breath of the Wild, Nintendo’s E3 presence will be shining that spotlight heavily on its newest console.
So where would Pokémon Stars fit into this? Tsunekazu Ishihara, The Pokémon Company CEO confirmed that a Pokémon game will come to the Switch in the future, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the near future. It could easily come to the new console in 2018.
GameFreak just released Sun and Moon at the end of 2016 and while the studio normally begins work on the new game toward the end of the present game, bringing Stars to Switch would take longer because it’s a new console. They could bring the game to both 3DS and Switch to capitalize on both audiences but that would take time as well.
Dragon Quest XI is the perfect example of this. Square Enix is releasing the next RPG for PS4, 3DS and Nintendo Switch but the Switch release date remains unconfirmed, despite the other two platforms having an established release.
There’s also the fact that if Pokémon Stars comes to the Switch and not the 3DS, it could mean certain demise for the older handheld. Nintendo seems dedicated to making the Switch and 3DS live side-by-side (at least until the Switch gets a bulkier library) but Pokémon coming to Switch could accelerate the demise of the 3DS, which is not what Nintendo wants.
So do you believe a Pokémon announcement is coming soon or at E3? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.