The Pokemon Press Conference Recap or: What to Avoid at a Press Conference

May 29, 2019
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Also on: Android, iOS

A new Detective Pikachu game, Pokemon Masters, Pokemon Home and Pokemon Sleep (yes, you read that right) are four brand new Pokemon projects coming throughout 2019 and 2020 from The Pokemon Company.

Announced on Tuesday at a surprise Pokemon Company Press Conference in Shibuya (revealed via Twitter on Monday) this would be a chance for The Pokemon Company to showcase its other ventures outside Pokemon Sword and Shield. And boy did it.  

Remember this guy? We're going to mention him in passing.

Hosted by Pokemon Company President and CEO Tsunekazu Ishihara, this was a far cry from the polished press conferences the gaming public has become accustomed to, Tuesday’s showcase was close to parodic: bizarre announcements, awkward transitions, and corporate shilling took the spotlight instead of their new projects.

A prime example that not all press conferences these days need to be live streamed public affairs, it didn’t seem like there would be much for Poke-fans to shout about early on. Hugely focused on the company’s overarching business strategy, expansion into China and new ventures into movies, it was easy to miss an announcement for a second Detective Pikachu game coming to Nintendo Switch. Especially when Hiro Matsuoka (Managing Director of Toho) was discussing his potential status as a Pokemon Company board member and had just given a shout out to the new Godzilla movie and Ken Watanabe.

This was followed by another understated announcement that NetEase Games was taking on Pokemon Quest for the Chinese market. They moved on from that as swiftly as I am doing now.

Not a retirement village for aging Pokemon.

Surely that was the awkwardness out of the way though? Nope. Not by a long shot. It continued in an awkward fashion throughout. Even interesting announcements like Pokemon Home were slightly overshadowed by accidental comedy.

The “place where all Pokemon can gather” was announced by Game Freak Managing Director Junichi Masuda and should be of interest to those looking to easily trade their Pokemon with other players. Pokemon Home is a cloud storage solution for Pokemon and encompasses the 3DS games (and any older Pokemon you’ve transferred), Pokemon Go captures, and anything caught on the current and forthcoming Switch titles. You can access your stash and trade via smartphone too. It’s something hardcore players should be excited about — especially where Pokemon Go’s region-specific Pokemon are concerned. The service will launch in 2020.

Following a confusing start, things now seemed back on track. This lasted about thirty seconds as Pokemon Sleep was revealed. Yes, Pokemon Sleep — wherePokemon turns sleep into entertainment”. Now, there’s a sentence I never thought I’d read!

Me and Pikachu watching this conference

Inspired by the success of Pokemon Go and its health-conscious initiatives, Pokemon Sleep will reward players for catching Z’s instead of Pokemon. Developed in conjunction with Magikarp Jump developer Select Button, this new game(?) will reward players with good sleeping habits. “The concept of this game is for players to look forward to waking up every morning,” says  with new “entertainment” being created by time spent sleeping and regular waking times. Details on how that works were nonexistent, which only makes me want to ask all of the questions!

Coupled with this reveal, Kazuhiro Maruyama (from Nintendo’s Device Development Group) took the stage. Discussing the recent lineage of Pokemon themed peripherals like the Pokeball controller and Pokemon Plus, Maruyama pulled a flat, Pokeball-shaped, device from his breast pocket — Pokemon Go Plus+. Again, this is legit. The device can be used as a regular Pokemon Go Plus device to discover Pokestops and progress in that game, but it will also act as a sleep tracker for Pokemon Sleep, with results delivered to smartphones via Bluetooth. Again, detail is lacking. This only makes the announcement even more bizarre.

This... thing!

The pace at which things transition felt so laboured and yet, we had new arrivals onto the stage seemingly very quickly. John Hanke was the latest. The CEO of Pokemon Go developers Niantic, Hanke proceeded to discuss his company’s role in Pokemon Sleep — oh, I thought it was over too! “We’re excited to find ways to reward good sleep habits,” says the head of a multi-million dollar game developer in only the second most bizarre sentence of the evening. Hanke then abruptly introduced a timed incentive for Pokemon Go featuring Snorlax, naturally. Departing with the line “that’s it from Niantic on the subject of sleep,” this conference finally achieved full parody.

Pokemon Masters turned out to be the only understandable reveal of this whole conference. Saving it until (almost) last and taking approximately thirty minutes to get there makes very little sense, but the same could be said for the entire presentation. Masters is the collaboration between The Pokemon Company and developer DeNa. Developed for smartphones, the game features “all of your favourite trainers and their partner Pokemon” from all of the past and present Pokemon games. A brief glimpse at Gameplay showcased a 3 vs 3 battle system, before a release date of “calendar year 2019” was announced, with more to be revealed in June. Genuinely exciting stuff.

Closing the presentation, Ishihara decided now would be a good time to shill Pokemon Shirts — a line of customisable Pokemon-themed dress shirts that everyone presenting had been wearing. The service is currently only available in Asian territories but will expand to North America and Europe at some point, apparently. That’s almost literally how it was phrased.

Buy my shirt! (These actually look nice)

More details on the individual projects showcased here was promised a later date, and news on Pokemon Masters and Pokemon Home will genuinely excite fans. However, right now it's hard to think straight. This was one of the most unintentionally hilarious press conferences in recent years: from the stock music every time someone walked on, to the seemingly baffled translator, and finally to the sheer breadth of peculiar projects revealed.

We’ll have more for you as soon as The Pokemon Company wants to tell us more.

Jump Dash Roll is confused. It hurt itself in its confusion!

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Ant Barlow

Started with the PlayStation, now I'm here... with a PlayStation. Once skipped school to play the Metal Gear Solid demo repeatedly. I love stories big and small. Trophy hunter. Recent VR convert. Probably a hipster.