Longtime Pokemon game director Junichi Masuda has left his position at Game Freak, but will still remain working on the Pokemon franchise in an even more important role. Earlier today, The Pokemon Company announced that Junichi Masuda was named the Chief Creative Fellow. In his new role at The Pokemon Company, Masuda "will utilize his deep understanding of the Pokemon brand to develop new services and products at the Pokémon Company, tapping into his years of experience and creative thinking. Masuda was previously the managing director of Game Freak, the developer of the Pokemon core series games, and directed every Pokemon game from Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire to Pokemon X and Y. Masuda also directed Pokemon: Let's Go Pikachu and Let's Go, Eevee, as well as Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl.
Masuda's new role will push him into a greater position of responsibility for the overall Pokemon brand. While Game Freak develops the core series of Pokemon games and handles new Pokemon designs, The Pokemon Company is the overall steward of the Pokemon franchise and manages everything from licenses and partnerships with third party brands to developing mobile games involving Pokemon. However, Masuda's departure from Game Freak also means the definitive "end" of an era for the Pokemon franchise. Masuda has been involved with Game Freak since the first Pokemon games and has left a definitive mark on the franchise. Even though Masuda hasn't directed more recent Pokemon games, he is still credited as either a producer or supervisor on more recent releases.
"I have served as the director of the Pokémon video game series, starting with "Pokemon Ruby Version and Pokemon Sapphire Version" up until "Pokemon X and Pokemon Y," and was involved in the development of many video games, including Pokemon GO," Masuda said in an official statement about his new position. "I would like to express my heart-felt thanks to all Pokemon fans. 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. I appreciate your continued support in my new role."