When Pokemon Sword and Shield revealed Gigantamax Charizard, many thought it was only a matter of time before Gigantamax Blastoise and Venusaur joined the fray, but then days turned to weeks without there being any showcase. As it turns out, thanks to the recent leaks of various Pokemon and the Pokedex, fans now know that Squirtle and Bulbasaur (and their evolution line) are absent from the game. To make matters worse, it's pretty clear now that Charmander and its evolution line are the only starters in this next generation game.
For some, this feels like a kick to the gut. When it was revealed that Pokemon Sword and Shield would not have a national Pokedex, many were understandably upset, given the franchises' "catch 'em all" slogan. Yet, it moved forward, and while no one likely expected the game to have ever single starter, having only one is an incredibly strange choice.
On the one hand, Charizard seems like a safe pick from all the available starters. It's popular, has seen multiple forms before, and is something many may see in competitive play for Pokemon Sword and Shield. Yet, it doesn't seem likely that this decision was based on popularity, and if it was, popularity has never been an excluding factor before -- that is, Game Freak has never played favorites with starters before.
Including Charmander's evolution line immediately implies, as a result, the inclusion of Bulbasaur and Squirtle. As such, if Pokemon Sword and Shield only featured Kanto region starters, the negative feedback would likely be more contained. Only including one evolution line is such a strange choice because of how they are often related.
Including Totodile's evolution line, for example, wouldn't seem right without Cyndaquil and Chikorita. The same goes for every other generation: Mudkip without Treecko or Torchic, Piplup without Chimchar or Turtwig, Tepig without Snivy or Oshawott, Chespin without Fennekin or Froakie, or Litten without Rowlet or Popplio. It has never worked this way before, and while Pokemon Sword and Shield players couldn't reasonably expect every single starter, a complete starter set only makes sense.
Starters are not typically Pokemon one would or should find in the wild, and if they were to appeared in Pokemon Sword and Shield, they would likely require special treatment. Whether this be certain catch rates in certain locations or times, certain tasks being completed before hand, and/or only being catchable after the main quest are all questions about their addition. Therefore, excluding some only makes sense, but excluding all but Charmander seems confusing, to say the least.
There is good new, though. Developer Game Freak stated that post-launch additions to Pokemon Sword and Shield was undecided, so the feedback on this decision could perhaps see starters release some time after the game launches. Admittedly, it would be pretty cool to see new Pokemon get Gigantamax forms later by post release raids, so perhaps Game Freak will add Gigantamax Venusaur and Blastoise as an event after the fact. Hopefully, this would extended well beyond the Kanto regions, perhaps introducing them in a series of events after launch to keep fans of the franchise coming back.
After all, when the game launches, Pokemon Sword and Shield will have a Gigantamax event. Players will see a high rate of Gigantamax Pokemon during this event, which seems to mean that there will more Max Raid battles occuring during said event. Pokemon GO has something similar and has been a method used to add new and legendary Pokemon all the time, so it stands to reason there will be more event some time in the future and would be a great way to correct what many consider to be a wrong. At this time, though, this is mere speculation, and only time can tell what Game Freak is thinking.
Pokemon Sword and Shield release November 15, exclusive for the Nintendo Switch.