As E3 draws every closer, and more and more rumors pile up about the much-anticipated Pokémon main series entry on Nintendo Switch, there is a troubling trend of eager fans that believe whatever the latest rumors say as gospel. Speculations and fan reactions all converge around the rumor crowding out any healthy skepticism and making speculation to the contrary of the rumor an unheard voice.
The latest rumor that has taken hold is one that the Pokémon games for the Switch will have only the first 150 Pokémon. The rumor is vague on whether this is only for the main story portion of the game, with more Pokémon to be unlocked in post-game areas and through transfer from the previous games, of if the games will only have the data for the first 150, rendering it impossible for any Pokémon beyond to be present in the game without future patches or updates. This question is at the crux of a schism within the community even though it shouldn’t be. There is a contingent of fans that believe that the Pokémon Switch game will only contain the data for the first 151 Pokémon. Even though there are a plethora of factors that observant fans will note that make this particular rumor a non-starter.
Starting with the most obvious reason, the quality standard that Game Freak has held for 20 years, and 29 games. Never in the developer’s history have they released a Pokémon title that didn’t contain the game data for every single Pokémon on it (this is why data miners always find the hidden Pokémon that are meant to be secret until their reveal and distribution events). Even in the case of Ruby and Sapphire, where it was impossible to connect the games to Gold and Silver to transfer older Pokémon to the new games, the data for all 386 Pokémon. As a developer Game Freak has always held the standard that when the release a new Pokémon game, it has every Pokémon’s data in the game. The games were always 100% complete data wise. And in later games they made sure that there is always a way for users to transfer their favorites from the previous games up to the latest games. This brings up the next reason why this rumor doesn’t stand.
One of Game Freak’s all-time regrets with the series was not being able to move the Pokémon from gens 1 and 2 up to Ruby and Sapphire. It is a mistake that they have gone to great lengths to ensure that hasn’t been repeated. To this day A user can take transfer their Pokémon from Ruby and Sapphire, all the way up through the games until it reaches Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon (they even had an ad campaign in Japan based around that for US/UM https://nintendosoup.com/pokemon-rescue-website-trailer-japan/). To further ensure gamers will always be able to use their old favorites, the company has even introduced a cloud storage service for Pokémon, at the introduction of this service they made it clear that the cloud-based service is future-proof. That players will now always be able to transfer their tried and true partners to the latest games. If Pokémon Switch only contained the data for the first 151 Pokémon it would not only be a massive slap in the face to the fans who have been able to trade their Pokémon to the new games since 2004, it also cripples the Pokémon Bank service by rendering one of its flagship features, the ability for players to always be able to transfer their Pokémon up to the latest games, useless.
Another reason why this rumor falls flat is battling. Since 2009 the Pokémon Company has held Video Game Championships, a key feature of which is the variety of Pokémon in the pool. This allows for players to find ways to use the unique Pokémon that they like, leading to events like Sejun Park’s spectacular 2014 victory using a Pachirisu on his team. This feat was possible because of the deep pool of Pokémon available in the format. If there is no data for Pokémon beyond the first 150 not only does the pool of usable Pokémon for VGC dwindle to a handful, but staples that have existed in the VGC since its conception in 2004 are removed for no good reason. This would alienate the VGC players and do a lot of damage to the budding e-sport that the Pokémon company has been carefully cultivating for over a decade. And outside of the official Video Game tournaments, the severe reduction of player choice would also heavily damage the unofficial competitive metagame competitive players of all stripes would grow bored with the competitive side of the game in record time.
The impact of the game data being restricted to the first 150 would also impact the online features. Features like the GTS would be reduced to nothing since it there would literally be only 150 Pokémon to trade for, the same would be true of the online Battle Spot competitions, the format options would be minuscule.
When considering this body of evidence, it becomes very clear that the likelihood of the 151 Pokémon only rumor is extremely slim. This would not be something small to mid-scale like having a game with no gym quest, or adding in Mega-Evolutions/Z-Moves, this would be actively tearing down the entire infrastructure of the franchise, and with it much of the good will built up with the fans over the past 20 years. I do not believe that Game Freak is foolhardy enough to throw all of that away on a whim. After all, they know their product and their fans better than anyone.