What's Really Going On With The Pokémon Company And Nuzlocke Challenges?

Nintendo doesn't have the best reputation for supporting fan-based creations, including unhinged Pokémon games made by gamers. So, when former Nintendo employees spoke about the company hating on Nuzlocke runs, fans were quick to believe it. Patternz, a gaming content creator, publicized Nintendo's stance on Nuzlockes from their Twitter account. 


"The Pokémon Company thinks Nuzlocke runs are 'on the same level as' ROM Hacks according to former Nintendo employees," he tweeted. In the attached clip, two former Nintendo employees answered a question about if they played "Pokémon" on a Nuzlocke run before. They apparently pitched the idea of playing "Pokémon" on a Nuzlocke run for a Nintendo Minute video but Nintendo declined. 

"They were gonna fire us," said Krysta, one of the former employees. The two employees in the video then went on to describe how hostile it was to suggest anything innovative in fear of company reps banishing creators from the program.

Nuzlockes, a type of gaming challenge where players limit the Pokémon they can catch and count any fainted ones as "dead," are one of the most popular challenges in "Pokemon" that fans impose on themselves for improved replayability. It isn't actually a hack, so the story came off as another tone-deaf Nintendo community dunking story.


Then, Serebii.net owner Joe Merrick later came out with a statement from The Pokémon International Company, claiming that it didn't actually disapprove of Nuzlockes. Here's his (and The Pokémon Company's) side of the story.

He said, she said

Joe Merrick runs Serebii.net, the biggest "Pokémon" fandom site on the internet. "I've actually spoken to TPCi about this. They confirmed to me that this is incorrect," Merrick said. "They haven't cut out people for doing Nuzlockes or anything like that. They don't care as long as you follow the confines of what's possible in the game."


Some content creators backed up Merrick's message with their own experiences on the matter. Merrick also clarified that the two experiences weren't necessarily mutually exclusive.

Other creators weren't so sure. One Twitter user also pointed out the high level of credibility the Nintendo employees' had. "Joe... they literally worked with Nintendo for ~13 years, and Krysta specifically dealt with content creator relations," they wrote. "This is a first-hand account and holds a lot more weight than a single conversation you had with a rep." However, the same user acknowledged that the situation was probably more nuanced than the "one person has to be lying" narrative that passerby were eager to believe.


What actually happened between Nintendo and Nuzlocke-running content creators is unclear. However, the official statement from the company is that Nuzlockes are and always have been fine.