Game Freak Managing Director Junichi Masuda Steps Down

Game Freak co-founder and managing director Junichi Masuda has stepped down from his role at GF to join The Pokemon Company as chief creative fellow, effective today.

"Going forward, I hope to transcend the boundaries of video games by trying to offer greater surprises, fun, and excitement to people all over the world, while doing my utmost to connect people, expand the circle of 'play' and to help bring about a richer world for us to share," Masuda said. "I appreciate your continued support in my new role."

Masuda is one of Game Freak's three co-founders, lending a hand in almost all Pokemon games since Blue and Red. But he didn't just dabble with directing—Masuda also worked as a composer and programmer, helping to build up Pokemon's identity in all kinds of different ways. He served as director for Ruby and Sapphire, FireRed and LeafGreen, Diamond and Pearl, Black and White, X and Y, and Let's Go Pikachu and Eevee.

His new role will see him "utilise his deep understanding of the Pokemon brand to develop new services and products, tapping into his years of experience and creative thinking."

This is a huge shift for Masuda who got his start as a composer for Mendel Palace, a title Game Freak released in 1989. He later branched out into other Nintendo properties, working on Yoshi, before Pokemon's inception where he served as a composer and programmer, later director and producer.

But it shouldn't be too much of a surprise. This announcement is a long-time coming. In 2018, Masuda said that Let's Go would likely be his last time directing a Pokemon game with his reason being that he wants to give younger talent a chance at Game Freak.

"I have served as the director of the Pokemon video game series, starting with Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire, up until X and Y, and was involved in the development of many video games including Pokemon GO," Masuda said. "I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to all Pokemon fans."

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