Pokémon Unite is blowing up right now, and with a new patch hitting servers in early August, many players have followed the associated accounts to keep up with news of the MOBA. But the game isn’t handled by The Pokémon Company or Game Freak, and is instead developed by Chinese developer TiMi Studio Group. The official Twitter account has been pretty chatty lately, so one player hit it up with a popular meme encouraging them to say gay rights.
You’ve probably seen this before—just this week, someone paid the original Halo announcer to say trans rights. It’s become a thing to ask celebrities to repeat that phrase or variations of it, because the bar is so fuckin’ low that someone daring to say something as vaguely political as the mere concept of equal rights for queer people feels like a win to the community. Brands always say they’re inclusive, but it’s usually in the broadest terms possible. More often than not, Nintendo-adjacent brands don’t really say anything resembling politics.
But TiMi Group Studio did not get the memo on the PR strategy here and, rather than ignoring the joke or just typing “gay rights” for easy internet points, its comms person instead responded, “why? rights of heterosexual players are equally important.” The tweets are now deleted, though screencaps show TiMi’s account made several further replies.
While the posts went down, hours later the TiMi account explained that it had made a mistake.
Someone responded to this suggesting that it mattered because not everyone has equal rights in society. To that, TiMi Studio Group replied, “learned a serious lesson.”
The Pokémon Company, meanwhile, commented that it in no way endorsed anything said by TiMi, and that furthermore, it’s going to…deal with it somehow. A Pokémon Company representative told Kotaku that the monster-collecting company would not say anything further on the topic, so there’s no real sense of how the situation will be dealt with.
At The Pokémon Company International, we believe in a just and equitable world and that every person, employee, and fan has the unique skills, powers, and purpose to contribute to this common cause. As part of this, we celebrate the humanity of every individual, and fully support the LGBTQIA+ community.
Diversity, equity and inclusion are the foundations of our culture of belonging, and our core value of Integrity and Respect underlines the importance of treating people with respect and empathy to build an open and trusting environment.
These statements do not align with our beliefs, culture, or values and are fundamentally wrong. We’re working with our external partner to address the situation.
So there you have it. The Pokémon Company doesn’t endorse the straights, y’all. Good on them.