Pokemon fans may have woken up Saturday morning to a surprising trend on Twitter. The hashtag #ThankYouGameFreak had gone viral, becoming the #1 trend in the United States, with over 10,000 tweets even before 8:00 am PT. Game Freak is, of course, the long-running developer of the popular Pokemon franchise. And while it's understandable that fans would be thankful for all things Pokemon, it's also understandable if anyone is confused regarding why the #ThankYouGameFreak hashtag is trending today, specifically.
A good place to start is the very first tweet to mention the #ThankYouGameFreak hashtag. That honor goes to YouTuber and Twitch Streamer Mystic Umbreon, a Pokemon fan among Pokemon fans. Mystic Umbreon's original tweet reads "#ThankYouGameFreak for creating the games that got me through all the rough times in my childhood. I know times are rough, but there are still fans that love what you do." Mystic Umbreon also encourages their followers to spread the hashtag to try and get it trending.
The issues that Mystic Umbreon is referencing in his tweet are related to a vocal minority of Pokemon fans reacting poorly to certain Game Freak design decisions for Pokemon Sword and Shield. Namely, that the games' Pokedex would not include many of the franchise's past Pokemon, due to restrictions in development resources. This vocal minority's response has been so vitriolic a canceled Pokemon Sword and Shield launch event is believed to have been canceled due to security concerns.
In essence, the #ThankYouGameFreak hashtag is a response to the negativity currently surrounding Pokemon Sword and Shield. It's a message of positivity to Game Freak, acknowledging the role that Pokemon has played in so many lives. And more than that, it's a celebration of all things Pokemon. Because with or without the negativity, which unfortunately exists in every gaming community, Pokemon has brought together millions of fans over the years in the name of fun and joy.
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
Pokemon fans have a lot to be thankful for, given the franchise's success over more than 20 years. Game Freak's dedication to quality has shined through in every game, focusing on incremental changes to a comfortable and popular formula rather than drastic change that could leave portions of their community behind. Pokemon Sword and Shield mark one of the biggest changes in the franchise yet, as it moves to the Nintendo Switch for the very first time. It's rather clear that the Pokemon fanbase is ready to move with Game Freak.
Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield release November 15 exclusively on Nintendo Switch.