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In 2013, Pokémon X and Y were published for the Nintendo 3DS. The titles were the sixth generation of games in the franchise and well-received by fans, selling over 16 million copies worldwide.
Usually, with each generation, the Pokémon Company releases three games, with the third game improving and adding new features to the previous two games. For example, Platinum was released in 2008 after the release of Diamond and Pearl, and Pokémon Crystal followed Gold and Silver.
However, X and Y never got the third game. The supposed Pokémon Z never got released. Instead, the franchise skipped the third installment to start developing Sun and Moon (Generation 7).
Z would have been the third installment in generation 6 of the main series of games.
The game would have vastly improved on X and Y, which successfully transitioned the franchise into 3D on the Nintendo 3DS.
It is likely that with Pokémon Z, the game would have integrated the franchise further into the 3D space with a fully 3D reimagined world, much like the one present in Sun and Moon.
When looking at the franchise’s schedule of releases, Z would have been released around 2015, two years before Sun and Moon.
A third installment in the franchise would have tied up many loose ends in the sixth generation. For example, your defeat of the evil Team Flare and the team’s boss Lysandre was rather underwhelming, with far greater room for additional storytelling in Z.
A third title could have also explored the mysterious AZ, the ultimate weapon, and the supposed Pokémon war in the region. There was considerable room for storytelling, and that likely would have been present in Pokémon Z.
Furthermore, the legendary creature Zygarde also points towards a possible third game with the Pocket Monster criminally underused in X and Y. Instead, the monster had more prominence in Sun and Moon with different forms. Traditionally with three games in each generation, three legendaries get the limelight. Zygarde was supposed to be the third in Generation 6.
The presence of Zygarde in Sun and Moon points towards the possible existence of Z, with it likely its new forms were supposed to feature in a third installment rather than in a whole new generation.
Likewise, Magearna also seems to have been forced into Sun and Moon with the Pocket Monster having a European look resembling the region of X and Y rather than Sun and Moon. Both Zygarde and Magearna seem to have been stuffed into Sun and Moon, pointing towards the existence of Z.
Zygarde (Complete form) Credit: Bulbapedia
The first reason Pokémon Z was never released was simply down to sales. Although X and Y sold well, usually, a whole new generation of games sells better than a third installment. When you look at sales across all main series games, not a single third installment of a generation comes in the top 10 sales of Pokémon games. Due to this reason, Z was never released and thus was skipped due to potential poor sales.
Interestingly as GamesSkinny.com points out, Gamefreak could have bottled the games due to the Paris terrorist attacks, which occurred around a similar release window for a third installment. Z would have been in France, much like its predecessors. Thus, perhaps the games were never released due to the ongoing crises within the nation.
3.Limited Resources and Time
Thirdly, Z was probably never released due to a lack of resources and, most importantly, time. Around one year after the company released X and Y, Omega Ruby and Sapphire were released, the long-requested remakes of the original ruby and sapphire.
The release of a whole generation alongside full 3D remakes likely gave the Pokémon Company very little time to develop a third game in generation six.
As with any popular game, remakes get requested by fans, and the company must have felt intense pressure to release a Ruby and Sapphire remake considering its popularity.
Thus, the company funnelled its time and money into the remakes rather than Z and therefore had very little time to develop a new game before the release of a new generation. Limited resources and time is most likely the reason for the lack of a third installment, as evident by X and Y's limited Pokedex, the weakest in the franchise's history.
Overall, Pokémon Z was very likely to have been in the works as the third instalment in generation six. But likely due to economic and, to a lesser extent, political constraints, the game was never released. Perhaps one day, we might find out more about Z.
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