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The PokeRogue logo against stairs to the Hall of Origin at Spear Pillar.
Images via PokeRogue and The Pokemon Company - Remixed by Dot Esports

PokeRogue creator walks away from viral Pokémon project after adding an ending

The game will stick around with a few alterations.

PokeRogue is chugging along as 2024’s early leader for the most popular Pokémon fangame, but it looks like development could hit a slight snag, with the game’s creator stepping away from the game just two months after it launched.

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PokeRogue launched on March 11 and very quickly became one of the rising stars of the Pokémon community, garnering hundreds of thousands of daily players and sweeping into the content scene for creators and streamers alike. And, while PokeRogue still has plenty of new features and updates coming, the game does have an ending thanks to the work of the development team. But that team is losing one of its pillars moving forward, with Samuel “FlashfyreDev” stepping away from the game now the finale’s done.

Arceus against a glowing rainbow background.
Faith, family, and an actual job come first. Image via The Pokemon Company

On May 16, Sam announced that, with the release of the ending sequence in a new update, he will be resigning as lead developer for PokeRogue. To many, this came as a shock, as Sam had been the main voice communicating development decisions and timelines, server status updates, and more since the fan game launched, however, his reasoning actually stems from that—because he was spending so much time on the project. 

“For nine months, I worked on the game alone as a solo developer, and it didn’t really get much attention outside of small circles…” Sam said. “As of recently, it exploded in popularity and a lot happened. It went from a mostly solo project to a community project. I went from desperately seeking additional help and not finding it, to having an overwhelming amount of people wanting to contribute their efforts to the game for no compensation. I truly blew away my wildest expectations, and I thank you all for being part of that.

While Sam said he knows this seems odd, he thinks it is best for all parties if he leaves the project on a “good note” with one final update. The reason being that, with the game’s recent success, he knows he won’t be able to moderate his time anymore, which was already detracting from other areas of his life like his faith, family, and actual job; and it doesn’t help that the game isn’t, and can’t be monetized due to being a fangame.

With this decision, Sam has turned over the Discord server and development decisions to several existing team members and thanked everyone who contributed to his vision and helped it achieve enough success to see more than one billion battles (as of May 13). Moving forward, he says he’ll likely completely leave the community to avoid having second thoughts. He has no plans to start another project right now either.

As for PokeRogue? The remaining dev team, including the two new decision-makers, has already clarified that nothing will happen to negatively impact the roguelite fan project after Sam’s departure and it will remain in active development.

The team also reiterated the game will remain free to play with zero monetization, to best avoid The Pokémon Company dropping a DMCA to kill the fan-nade project or Nintendo stepping in to take legal action against them.

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Image of Cale Michael
Cale Michael
Lead Staff Writer for Dota 2, the FGC, Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and more who has been writing for Dot Esports since 2018. Graduated with a degree in Journalism from Oklahoma Christian University and also previously covered the NBA. You can usually find him writing, reading, or watching an FGC tournament.