Pokemon Sword and Shield Sales Prove "Hardcore" Video Game Fans Don't Matter

"Hardcore" Pokemon fans are still salty about Sword and Shield. Here's why their opinions are irrelevant.

The Pokemon Company

"Some might say that 1 or 2 million additional players lost is a rather small reduction," wrote Reddit user u/CalculatingCorvid in a post titled "Don't let anyone tell you that not buying SwSh won't make a difference" on the Pokemon subreddit. "Gamefreak will notice any declines, even a minor one, because they are a corporation that wants their products to grow."

CalculatingCorvid wrote their post a few days prior to the launch of Pokemon Sword and Shield, the newest set of mainline games in the Pokemon franchise and easily the most controversial entry in its 23-year history––at least amongst a certain subset of the fandom. In the minds of these self-proclaimed "hardcore fans," Pokemon's primary developer Game Freak slighted them; so in response, they pledged to boycott the new games.

Pokemon Sword and ShieldThe Pokemon Company

For weeks now, the Pokemon subreddit, which has over two million subscribers, has been barraged with a near-constant stream of negativity in regards to Sword and Shield. The controversy largely surrounds "Dexit," the community term for Game Freak's decision to pare the Pokedex down by roughly half. In other words, hundreds of popular Pokemon species, some of which players have been carrying with them from game to game for over two decades, will no longer be transferable to Sword and Shield––a first for a mainline entry in the series.

Hardcore fans have justified their outrage with "evidence," cherry-picking quotes from game director Junichi Masuda to convince themselves of a vast conspiracy wherein Game Freak lied to them about the reasoning behind Dexit. One massive list compiling everything wrong with the new games prior to launch received over 50,000 upvotes on Reddit. Hardcore fans even managed to get #GameFreakLied trending worldwide on Twitter, angrily turning on major community members who didn't back their cause.

Post-release, hardcore fans have proceeded to "review-bomb"Sword and Shield on Metacritic and whine about how critic reviews (which have been largely positive) are "just not fair," alongside their daily rant posts about a game the majority of them, presumably, are not even playing.

All of this is to say that if hardcore fans really are the core Pokemon fanbase, one would expect that the intensity and visibility of their outrage would lead to a decline in sales, if only a slight one. As CalculatingCorvid expressed in their post, 1 or 2 millions lost sales might be relatively small considering Pokemon's mass appeal, but it would certainly be noticeable to Game Freak.

Except CalculatingCorvid made a major miscalculation: They, like many other self-proclaimed "hardcore fans," trapped themselves in a bubble where they believed their sentiments were representative of the wider fandom.

If all 2 million r/Pokemon subscribers really didn't buy the new games, that would probably be a problem for Game Freak. But in reality, the number of hardcore fans who actually boycotted the game is likely much closer to the 50,000 who upvoted the big list of "problems"––and that's if we're being very generous with the assumption that everyone who upvoted really didn't buy the game. And while 1 or 2 million lost sales might be noticeable, 50,000 won't make a dent for such a major franchise.

Sure enough, the sales for Pokemon Sword and Shield have broken plenty of records for the Switch. Not only were Sword and Shield the fastest selling Switch games to-date, moving over 6 million copies in the first week alone (beating out Super Smash Bros. Ultimate), but they also accounted for the "highest-grossing launch of any Pokemon game."

"Hardcore fans" have chalked this up to any number of reasons, including casual players, uninformed consumers, and "dishonest" video game journalists. The truth is that "hardcore fan" isn't actually an accurate descriptor for the people outraged over Pokemon games.

More specifically, the vast majority of Pokemon fans, even the hardcore ones who breed for IVs, Masuda method shiny hunt, and reset every gift Pokemon a billion times for optimal natures (you'll know what all of those things entail if you're a hardcore Pokemon fan), don't have the time or energy to actually be angry about a video game. Well-adjusted people realize that their opinion, even about something they really truly love, is not objectively right or wrong, and they are not entitled to a product turning out the way they personally want it to. At the end of the day, even most hardcore fans play for enjoyment, and as soon as they no longer enjoy a game, they move onto something else that they do enjoy.

GigantamaxThe Pokemon Company

To be clear, it's totally valid to be bummed about Dexit. Nobody wants their favorite Pokemon cut from a game. But there's a difference between being bummed and deciding not to buy the game, and ranting ad nauseum, filling the community with toxicity because you didn't get what you wanted.

In other words, there are the majority of Pokemon fans, both "casual" and "hardcore," who care deeply about the franchise but are also well-adjusted enough to take a decision they may or may not like in stride, and then there are "maladjusted fans" who dedicate unprecedented amounts of energy to yelling online about video games. These are the people who give "gamers" a bad rap, living up to negative stereotypes about video games being enjoyed by angry, toxic people who seem to spend more time complaining about a supposedly fun hobby than actually engaging in it.

The best thing about PokemonSword and Shield selling so well is that it proves that the opinions of these "maladjusted fans" are entirely irrelevant. As it turns out, they really are just a very vocal minority who constitute such a small portion of the fanbase that even with their mass boycott and their insistence upon spreading toxicity on any Pokemon-related post, they couldn't even put a dent in overall sales.

That's not to say that none of their complaints stem from legitimate feelings. Speaking personally, I share some of these feelings myself. But being angry about Pokemon ruins the entire point, which is to have fun. My choice is either to enjoy Sword and Shield as it is, or to play something else instead. It's high-time that more people realize that when a fan community seems filled with outrage and toxicity, it's not necessarily reflective of the whole. Sometimes when maladjusted fans run rampant, it just means that the majority of healthier fans with more important things to care about have simply chosen to disengage from the community.

Screenshot: The Cutting Room Floor (ResetEra)

With Pokemon Sword and Shield set to launch in just a few short weeks, I can't help but feel a little underwhelmed.

It's not the lack of a National Dex, as I'm fairly confident those cuts aren't permanent, and I'm not hardcore enough to keep my Pokedex up-to-date anyways. Moreover, I actually think the curry cooking and Gigantamax battles (mainly fat Pikachu, AKA PIKACHONK) look really fun. But for me, the bread and butter of any new mainline Pokemon game is the new Pokemon, and with the exception of Wooloo, who will be in my final party regardless of their battle prowess, the new ones are kind of disappointing.

Sun and Moon might not have been the most memorable entries into the series, but Mimikyu––the ghost Pokemon that hides its terrifying appearance beneath a shoddy, crayon-drawn Pikachu rag because "it thought it would be able to make friends with humans if only it looked like Pikachu"––is arguably the best new Pokemon concept since Gold and Silver.

MimikyuNintendo/ Game Freak

Currently, Sword and Shield seems to fall short in comparison. Like, what the heck is wrong with Morpeko, and why does it look like a derpy Pikachu that fell into a mud puddle?

MorpekoNintendo/ Game Freak

This is a real shame because, as it turns out, Game Freak has had a few really great unused concept monsters in their pocket for over two decades. In 2018, a leaked ROM of a 1997 demo for Pokemon Gold and Silver revealed a whole slew of scrapped Pokemon. And while some of them later appeared with updated designs, a few––and maybe even the best of them––were ultimately forgotten.

Beta PokemonNintendo/ Game Freak

Thankfully, a Twitter account called "Dr. Lava's Lost Pokemon" has spent the past year faithfully hunting down and documenting info on the lost Pokemon species. It's a bit of a double-edged sword though, because now we know what we're missing.

One painful loss is an evolution chain of electric tiger Pokemon consisting of Kotora, Raitora, and an unnamed third evolution that received a back sprite but not an official frontal animation. As such, Pokemon researchers can only guess what might have been, but we still mourn for this cute little thickboi.

Another major loss is Wolfman and its evolved form, Warwolf, a lost Pokemon chain that seems to depict a strange monster wearing a werewolf costume. One could easily imagine an alternate universe wherein Warwolf plushies flood the Nintendo Store every Halloween.

Even more unfortunate, the Warwolf concept might have actually been translated into Swinub and Piloswine, who kind of suck.

But no loss feels quite as brutal as that of the Ditto evolution, Animon––a Pokemon that literally look like a screaming condom. Oh, what a world we could have lived in.

Of course, not every change was bad. The original designs for the Legendary Dogs were a lot less cool than the final versions.

All things considered, Entei, Raikou, and Suicune look a lot more powerful than En, Rai, and Sui.

Legendary DogsNintendo/ Game Freak

Similarly, the first Pichu design looks insanely doofy, and actually not that far off from Morpeko—which actually explains a lot.

Then again, why would they remove Turban, the shell Pokemon that clearly lives on Slowbro's tail (in spite of the fact that the game officially refers to it as a Shellder, which it so obviously is not).

Mainly though, we'd like to see Nintendo and Game Freak bring back Animon. Until the new games give us a proper condom Pokemon, the franchise will never truly be whole.


New Legendary Pokémon (and Everything Else) Revealed So Far in Pokémon Sword and Shield

Your one-stop breakdown of every new Pokémon and game mechanic in Pokémon Sword and Shield


Photo by Thimo Pedersen on Unsplash

This morning, Nintendo Direct gave us a slew of new information on Pokémon Sword and Shield, including the free-roam Wild Area, the Dynamax mechanic, and two new Legendary Pokémon.

You can watch the full Nintendo Direct here, but if you're short on time, here's a rundown of everything new to the Galar region:

New Pokémon

Grookey, Scorbunny, and Sobble

Sword and Shield's Starter Pokémon were revealed long before this Nintendo Direct, but we got to see them playing around, and they look especially cute animated on Nintendo Switch.


Pokémon designs have become more derivative with each generation, but it's hard to fault them too much now that there are over 800 species. To be clear, Wooloo is a sheep Pokémon that's not Mareep, because Mareep is Electric type and Wooloo is just a sheep.


This thing is just a stupid flower.


Gossifleur evolves into Eldegoss, and they're cotton now? Do flowers turn into cotton? Also, they just did Whimsicott in Generation VI, so whatever, I guess we have multiple cotton Pokémon.


Corviknight looks pretty cool, and it seems like we'll be seeing a good deal of them since it works as Galar region's taxi system. Also, surprisingly, this is the first raven Pokémon.


This is just a Digimon.


Okay, Zacian is insanely cool. It's basically Sif from Dark Souls but Pokémon-ized. They're also definitely the cooler of the two new Legendary Pokémon.


The other new Legendary Pokémon, Zamazenta, is like a less cool version of Zacian, because Zacian has a sword and Zamazenta just has a weird body.

New Characters

Champion Leon

Leon may be the Champion of the Galar Pokémon League, but he also thinks that wearing a cape over a sports jersey makes him look cool. Very weird dude; steer clear.

Rival Hop

Hop is a chump, and he'll never be a worthy rival. He's also Leon's little brother, so we can all look forward to destroying his whole family.

Professor Magnolia

Women. In. STEM. Move aside, Professor Oak, the future is female!

Assistant Sonia

More. Women. In. STEM. Who says fashion and lab work can't go together?

Gym Leader Milo

The first new Gym Leader, Milo, is an absolute unit. Look at the sheer size of this lad. Too bad he uses Eldegoss, the lame cotton Pokémon. But dang, this boi hits the rack.


Dynamax is a new battle mechanic in Pokémon Sword and Shield that you can use once per battle in order to make your Pokémon gigantic for three turns. Their attacks obviously become super-powered, too.

The Wild Area

The Wild Area is the new open space between towns and cities where Pokémon can roam free. Unlike previous mainline Pokémon games, Pokémon can be seen on the map. Events change based on date, time, and weather, and the environment holds many interactive secrets to uncover through exploration.

Max Raid Battles

Pokémon Sword and Shield's newest multiplayer feature, Max Raid Battles, allow you and three other players to join forces in the Wild Area to fight and catch special, ultra-powered Dynamax Pokémon.

Pre-order Promotions


Amazon is currently offering Prime members a $10 promotional credit when buying the game.

Pokémon Sword

Pokémon Shield

Best Buy

Best Buy is offering a $10 promotional credit, too, and also has a special dual-pack available which includes both Sword and Shield.

Pokémon Sword

Pokémon Shield

Pokémon Sword and Shield Double Pack