Earlier this month, Game Freak had shared that around 1,000 people were part of the team working on Pokemon Sword/Shield. If you were wondering how all that manpower was spread around, you can finally get some answers.
In a recent Polygon interview, Ohmori and Masuda shared a rough breakdown of the various teams that worked on the upcoming games. In particular, the core Game Freak team numbered at around 200 people, while another 100+ people helped with debugging, and so forth. You can read the exact details from the excerpt below:
Q: There was an interview recently where you [Ohmori] mentioned that a thousand people had been involved in this game in one capacity or another, and I know that involves not just Game Freak but lots of other companies and departments. I’m curious what the biggest resource pull is. What aspect of these games requires the most people?
Ohmori: So, yeah. The number being close to a thousand, that of course includes all the different functions like marketing and PR and everyone that would be associated with the game ahead of release. But I think at Game Freak, really the core team of people that worked on the game was around 200 people. And of course, Creatures is another partner company that develops 3D models of the Pokémon. There are various teams that handle debugging at our partner companies as well. So there’s a lot of people involved and I think in terms of just the sheer number of the most resources required to make something happen for the development, it was definitely more on the graphical side of things. Like I mentioned, Creatures was involved with creating the models, but even at Game Freak, with the increased power of the Switch, we tried to make richer, more expressive visuals. We definitely needed more people this time around. […]
I mean, there’s more than a hundred people who worked on debugging the game, the testing and all of that. And Creatures, they probably have a hundred people working on 3D models and everything. Now that we’re on the Switch, there’s the graphical stuff but also creating the data for the various systems in the game and everything. It just requires a lot of people to be involved.
Masuda: Really this time, a lot of the network features and server-side stuff and new communication features put into the game required a lot more people working on the debug side of things than before.
Q: How would the number of staff compare to what you had on previous Pokémon games?
Ohmori: I just want to make sure I don’t give the wrong impression. It’s not really a thousand-person team working on the actual content of the game. It’s really everyone who was involved in the project, including marketing and PR, advertising, localization, all that stuff.
Q: Sure, and I imagine many of those people were not full-time on this game.
Ohmori: Yes, it’s really just everyone who collaborated on the project including contractors, outsourced companies, our partners like The Pokémon Company, Pokémon Company International, Creatures, and all the other people that have been involved at any point in the development.
Q: So overall, how much bigger would you say, roughly speaking, this project was compared to previous games?
Masuda: It’s hard to give a really clear answer but I’d say maybe 1.5 times the number of people as a general estimate.
Ohmori: That’s more of just kind of speaking from feeling, though, not any kind of specific number.
It’s definitely an interesting peek into the game’s development! We’ll report back more on Pokemon Sword/Shield when we hear more.