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Pokémon Developer Game Freak Changes Name to "Game Maniac" in China

Game Freak will forever reside within a nostalgic pocket of Pokémon player’s hearts, as they remember staring at the logo and eagerly awaiting THAT title screen. However, it has been reported that the Japanese developer has changed its company name to ‘Game Maniac’ in China, which has already been trademarked.

The change was flagged by hobbyist translator “sirena” on Twitter, who broke down the phonetic translation. The translator noticed the change in Chinese and explained that the second part of the company’s name now phonetically translates to ‘maniac’ instead of ‘freak.’ The translator went on to explain how the new name sounds “less foreign” to Chinese natives, whilst retaining the same energy as its former name. China had previously spelled the ‘freak’ in Game Freak phonetically; however, the official name has now been changed to something that makes more sense in the native language.

Fans of the developer raised their confusion over the change, arguing that the name doesn’t sound as striking as its predecessor. However, one user on Twitter pointed out that while the English slang ‘freak’ is acceptable to western speakers as it can house a positive connotation, in Chinese the word may be taken more literally. There has not been any official statement from Game Freak explaining the change, but translators insist that Game Maniac is now a better fit for Chinese speakers.

Starting its video game journey as a self-published magazine, Game Freak stormed onto the scene in the 1980s with Satoshi Tajiri and Ken Sugimori. As Tajiri and Sugimori were joined by Junichi Masuda, the trio then started their own video game development company using the same name. Game Freak launched with its first game Quinty – a puzzle game released as Mendel Palace for the Nintendo Entertainment System – before the behemoth arrived. The company’s most successful series is still Pokémon – a portmanteau of Pocket Monsters – to this day, that runs on relentless steam.

Game Freak moved into a new building in Tokyo at the start of this year, shared by Nintendo, Hal Laboratory, and 1-Up Studio, whilst presumably continuing the company’s Gear Project initiative. The initiative encourages and inspires creators at Game Freak to bring forth their original ideas during the company’s quieter times, in order to promote originality within the gaming industry and increase the creator’s experience.

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