One of Pokemon’s core game mechanics is the collection of these critters. After all, the slogan “gotta catch ’em all” appeals to the basic human nature to own. That’s also why Pokemon keeps on increasing the number of “monsters” generation after generation, at times allowing players to carry over their collection to the next game. Not so in the upcoming Nintendo Switch title Pokemon Sword and Shield where players will only be able to import a limited number into the game.
There are around 800 Pokemon species in the wild right now. While that pales in comparison to real world zoology, there’s only so much you can cram in a game and ask game developers to support. According to Polygon, producer Junichi Masuda and the development team had to decide whether to focus on breadth or depth. They chose the latter to take advantage of the Switch’s hardware and support a limited number of Pokemon but give them expressive designs.
And so Masuda decided that only Pokemon from the game’s own Galar region will be imported into the game. While Sword and Shield will be introducing dozens of never before seen specie, it will be a far cry from that 800 in total from other games.
It might also run afoul of those expecting the newly announced Pokemon Home will let them skip much of the collecting mechanic of the game. The mobile app will supposedly let players keep all their Pokemon across games under one roof. Granted, details for that app are still shrouded in mystery at this point.
The decision to limit the game to only its own current generation does also simplify development and balancing. With over 800 Pokemon, developers and designers will have to take into account an exponentially higher number of possible combinations of Pokemon. That means there will be less chances of bugs creeping in or some players tying to game the system.