Famitsu 2019 Game of the Year: Pokemon Sword and Shield

famitsu 2019 game of the year logo
  • On Saturday, Japanese media outlet Famitsu revealed its 2019 Game of the Year Winner
  • The company has announced a Game of the Year winner each year since 2005

While the Game Awards remains the most popular annual celebration of video games, certain regional outlets continue to demand the industry’s attention. For almost four decades, Famitsu has been the most respected video game magazine in Japan. On Saturday, the storied news outlet revealed its 2019 Game of the Year Winner: Pokemon Sword and Shield.

A Hometown Winner

The Pokemon franchise is no stranger to success. Since its initial release in 1996, the Pocket Monster company has sold over 360 million video games and remains one of the most successful series of all time. Despite its massive success, Pokemon games do not often fare well during video game awards. Graphically-intensive and story-driven titles typically dominate awards season, and Pokemon is better known for customization and accessibility. Until now.

In a surprising reveal, Famitsu announced that the series’ latest installment, Pokemon Sword and Shield, won its annual 2019 Game of the Year award. It is just the third time a Pokemon game won the prestigious award, with the other two winners being Diamond and Pearl and Sun and Moon.

Famitsu’s scoring criteria is unique in that the outlet calculates sales figures, fan reviews, and critical scores into its formula for selecting a winner. Other contenders included Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, Death Stranding, and Fire Emblem Three Houses. Given the company’s standards, it is curious that Pokemon Sword and Shield won such a prestigious award. Below is a list of oddities that conflict with Famitsu’s standards:

  • Fans continue to “review bomb” the Pokemon Company’s latest installment. At the time of this article, fans scored Pokemon Sword as a 4.6 and Pokemon Shield as a 4.5.
  • Critics reviewed both games as an 8.0.
  • The only game that Famitsu scored as a “near perfect” title in 2019 was Kingdom Hearts III.

Based on the criteria, it is evident that sales data drove Famitsu’s decision. Of the four contenders, Pokemon Sword and Shield sold over 5 times the number of copies as the second place finisher, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Not to mention, Sword and Shield is the fastest selling Nintendo Switch game of all time. While Famitsu’s criteria might be sound, it is evident that the game’s popularity in Japan influenced its Game of the Year selection.


While fans should be excited about Pokemon’s success, the game still has a lot of ground to cover. Holiday sales propelled Sword and Shield’s to new heights, but the newest generation has a long way to go to surpass the popularity of the Red and Blue series. The upcoming Isle of Armor DLC expansion will go a long way in determining if the game’s eighth generation surpasses previous titles.

But we want to know what you think. Are you excited about Pokemon Sword and Shield’s winning the Famitsu 2019 game of the year award? Did you purchase the game during the holiday season? Let us know in the comments below or the social media links on the right. Also, be sure to check out our other articles on the NieR series, which includes our latest “Music that Moves” column.

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