The months leading up to Pokémon Sword and Shield’s release have been tumultuous for both Game Freak and Pokémon fans alike. Some Sword and Shield features have upset fans, such as the limited National Pokédex, leaving Game Freak to defend themselves and clarify their approach to the game. Still, many fans have been left unsatisfied, and the criticisms against Game Freak have continued.
Some fans, however, are trying to drown out the negativity by uplifting the company and the Pokémon franchise through the #ThankYouGameFreak hashtag on Twitter, which trended worldwide for some time earlier this weekend. Pokémon YouTuber Mystic Umbreon started the tag with a Tweet expressing his gratitude toward Game Freak.
I wanted to see if I could start a #ThankYouGameFreak trend. #ThankYouGamefreak for creating the games that got me through all the tough times in my childhood. I know times are rough, but there are still fans that love what you do. Spread if you appreciate what Gamefreak does.
— MysticUmbreon#GoldenDeer (@MysticUmbreon94) November 9, 2019
He later uploaded a YouTube video further explaining his intentions behind starting the hashtag. He wanted “to try and combat all the hate Game Freak is getting,” as he said he’s witnessed death threats made toward the company and noted the Sword and Shield leaks flooding the internet right now. He acknowledged that criticizing aspects of the games and Game Freak’s choices is valid, but argued that the unending negativity will cause “low morale” within Game Freak that could affect their ability to develop games. He encouraged other Pokémon fans to share their personal stories to contribute to the #ThankYouGameFreak movement on both Twitter and YouTube.
The response on Twitter was overwhelmingly positive, with countless players and fans sharing their personal experiences in the tag.
— VERSY👁 (@Versiris) November 10, 2019
When I was incredibly depressed and anxiety ridden the only thing I would do was replay Pokemon games over and over to distract myself from my negative thoughts. It helped me through a lot. #ThankYouGameFreak
— Jimmy Whetzel (@JimmyWhetzel) November 9, 2019
— 💭 | 🛡 (@gurugurugravity) November 9, 2019
Some at Game Freak have noticed and responded to the hashtag since its Twitter takeover, such as Sword and Shield art director James Turner and Game Freak director Shigeru Ohmori, with gratitude and awe.
Wow…#ThankYouGameFreak is trending all over the world!
It’s lovely reading all of your kind messages. And it’s lovely to hear that so many of you are looking forward to the launch of #PokémonSwordAndShield next week!! We’re all excited too!
Sending the love back at you 💖💖 pic.twitter.com/T2XzRypci2
— James Turner (@JamesTurner_42) November 10, 2019
— 大森滋 @ポケモン剣盾2019年冬発売！ (@Shigeru_Ohmori) November 10, 2019
Pokémon Sword and Shield release on the Nintendo Switch this Friday, November 15.