While Pokemon fans are diving into the recently released but highly anticipated multiplayer online battle arena called Pokemon Unite, TiMi Studio, the game’s developer, is being canceled for their anti-LGBTQ+ statements on social media. The insensitive and utterly unprofessional Twitter exchange that involved the game’s developer is now removed, but not before it could spark an internet wildfire, with LGBTQ+ fans petitioning Nintendo to take action.
When asked by Twitter users to “say gay rights” in the comment section and show their support for the LGBTQ+ community, TiMi Studio, which also developed Call of Duty: Mobile, the studio’s official Twitter handle, responded, “Why? The rights of heterosexual players are equally important.” This prompted a back and forth discussion with the fans, many of which found the studio’s answer disappointing, at best, and provoking at worst.
The Twitter discussion was later deleted, but not before it was preserved in a screenshot and shared by those looking to reprimand the Pokemon Unite developer for its online behavior. Of course, not all fans were angry at the statement, but many have pointed out that saying that TiMi Studio’s response is similar to conservative statements like “All lives Matter,” which could be interpreted as a call to anti-LGBTQ+ actions, similar to those of the Straight Pride movement from the 80s.
Following the discussion and the backlash the studio received from the Twitter and LGBTQ+ community, TiMi Studio Group issued an explanation along with an apology for “inappropriate remarks.” Unfortunately for the developers of Pokemon Unite, this statement, along with the apology, was perceived as insensitive and utterly unprofessional. Some Twitter users even questioned the validity of TiMi Studio Group Twitter account, due to the seemingly high level of unprofessionalism, but it was later determined as a legitimate, verified TiMi Studio Group Twitter account.
The entire event caught the attention of The Pokemon Company International, which handles the property outside of Asia, and is responsible for brand management, licensing, and marketing of the franchise. The company representative commented that The Pokemon Company International believes in a just and equitable world, showing their full support for the LGBTQIA+ community, further adding that the statements made by TiMi Studio Group do not alight with the company’s beliefs, culture, or values, branding them as fundamentally wrong.
The Pokemon Company International added that it’s working with its external partner to address the issue. And while their statement shows the company’s stance on the matter, it’s still unclear as to what actions the company plans to take regarding TiMi Studio’s involvement or the employee who posted the questionable tweets.
It’s worth noting that this isn’t the first public Pokemon-related outcry in the past week. Just a few days ago, the developer of Pokemon Go, Niantic, came under fire for altering the game’s settings, causing the gameplay to conflict with the ongoing public safety concerns. The studio has since promised to address the situation in the following month, but similar to The Pokemon Company International, it failed to disclose which further action it will take.