Pokémon Masters is working to change its gameplay and systems based on player feedback
Pokémon Masters has had a super successful first few months on mobile app stores. However, it's a solid game that has been marred by bugs, poor management, and a lack of available content that hurts the experience.
Producers Satoshi Sasaki and Tetsuya Iguchi have finally commented on the state of the game. These comments follow a month of promising bug fixes and providing players with gems in response to the amount of time those fixes have taken to implement. In a letter penned to the Pokémon Masters community, the heads promise changes coming to the game and have outlined what they thought about massive amounts of feedback.
You can read a translated version of the crucial points from the letter here thanks to Twitter user Zenrotto.
— [公式]ポケマスだいすきクラブ (@pokemas_game) October 9, 2019
"I apologize for bugs, and that action to fix them has not been timely,” Sasaki said. “We have received feedback that only things disadvantageous for management have been fixed: We are so sorry. That was not our intention. We have had issues coordinating and it has caused response issues."
And this is a big part of the initial backlash addressed right away. Several times since the game's launch, a bug will be talked about and reported by players. However, nothing gets done for about a week or longer. Instead, they fixed issues with the store or another aspect that wasn’t a real problem.
"We are aware that the content provided is small, and level design is not good,” Sasaki said. “I currently feel a sense of crisis that I have not provided a fun experience. Our estimated pre-release was flawed, and as such, we have created an environment where there is nothing to do. I have started to feel that current EX challenges aren't designed to be enjoyed by everyone.”
Another nail hit on the head as the producer admits that the content in the game at launch is not enough to keep the player base satiated for as long as the team hoped. The odd decision to exclude certain evolutions while including others directly in the game with no way to access them seems like the first misstep here.
For example, Brandan and Treeko, one of the best Sync Pairs in the game, can’t reach a second or third stage evolution. However, in the game's main coding in the game is done since you can fight Brendan in side missions with a Sceptile. That is the definition of withholding content to trickle it out later to prolong the game’s life, likely while the team worked on new pairs later on.
"Our goal: To draw out the appeal of Sync Pairs and create an experience you can only find in Pokemon Masters,” Sasaki said. “I want to provide such an experience that buddies are not selected only for performance, but so that trainers can win with their favorite buddies. We will report on a schedule in the future, but I want to promise you all that we are taking your words and feedback to heart and will always take them seriously."
It is good to see DeNA listening to its players and trying to rectify the situation by changing its management priorities and taking on feedback. But unless some significant changes come to the game, it might have limited appeal for its current audience.
Later in the letter, Sasaki goes on to say more compensation will be considered in the future, which translates to more free Gems for the players who have stuck with the game. It isn’t a great fix, but it is a tangible reward that will appease some users.
If Sasaki and Iguchi can somehow rework the EX challenges and inject more content into the game, there is a serious chance players pick it back up. However, if all they do is keep to the course without changing how the battle system works and the levels scale, this could be another fast start but quick burnout. It'd be a shame for a game that had such high potential.
The next developer letter will be posted on Oct. 17, hopefully with more details regarding the direction the team will be taking the game.