On Nov. 18, Game Freak in partnership with Nintendo released twin games Pokémon Scarlet and Violet. Nintendo is known for their attention to detail with their games, never releasing one until it has been polished in both visuals and gameplay. If these games are considered clean and polished, Scarlet and Violet are extremely dusty. Fans were quick to notice the glaring bugs that plague the game, and speculation ensued on why Non-Playable Characters (NPCs) were flashing into scenes they should not be programmed into, walking in place, or even playable character models stretching into Slenderman-esque eldritch horrors. Although the general user consensus was that the game was the most fun a Pokémon game has been in a while, its release date should have been pushed back. Why wasn’t it?
The answer, quite simply, is capitalism. Game studios know sales skyrocket for the holiday season, so there is often an influx of new titles around Thanksgiving. Developers are rushed and forced to work excessive overtime in order to meet the holiday deadline, but this often comes at the cost of playability or graphics. The infamous launch of Cyberpunk 2077 in 2020 – one of the most anticipated AAA games of the year – ended with angry and disappointed customers who spent $60 on a nearly unplayable game. A Bloomberg article at the time reported CD Projekt Red, the studio behind Cyberpunk, was calling for six day work weeks after previously promising their developers mandatory overtime would not be instigated. One developer reported working a staggering 13 hours each day. One could chalk Cyberpunk’s bugs up to the fact it was built using an entirely new engine. Pokémon, however, uses a very similar – if not the same – engine as their previous open-world entries, Legends: Arceus and Sword and Shield. These had much higher critical and public receptions than Scarlet and Violet, and the natural assumption would be that whatever used the engine next would outdo the previous games. After all, Nintendo games such as The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask had outdone their predecessors on the same engine. Does the issue lie with Game Freak, not Nintendo? Fans seem to think so, as in the past some of Nintendo’s most popular titles have been delayed to ensure a quality experience.
While there is no doubt that “Pokémon Scarlet and Violet” suffers from some of the most abysmal bugs in recent memory, the game was still the largest release in the Switch console’s five-year history by a landslide. This isn’t surprising considering Pokémon is the highest-grossing media franchise of all time, a large amount of copies sold were likely preorders from fans eager to see the next great Pokémon game. Unfortunately for them, they received a game riddled with glitches ranging from funny to terrifying. However, the story and characters – and, of course, the new Pokémon – are worth the play. Hopefully a patch will be released soon, and the worst problem with the game will be its sparse graphics. Until then, players will continue to make the most of their time in the Spain-inspired Paldea region.