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Pokémon Unite developer explains why scores are hidden

It’s so players don’t get discouraged

Pikachu leads the charge across the arena in pokemon Unite. it’s next to a Snorlax and Fletchling. Image: The Pokémon Company/Timi Studios
Ana Diaz (she/her) is a culture writer at Polygon, covering internet culture, fandom, and video games. Her work has previously appeared at NPR, Wired, and The Verge.

Pokémon Unite, the free-to-play MOBA from The Pokémon Company and Tencent Games’ owned TiMi Studios, continues to chug along. The game, which was released to the Nintendo Switch in July, came to mobile devices in September and has gotten seasonal updates bringing welcome additions like Gengar a spacesuit and a rather dapper Blastoise.

But the outfits are only part of the fun. With the game comes an intense competitive scene fitting for a top down competitive arena game.

At its core, it’s a rather approachable game: You play on 5v5 teams, each collecting points that you can deposit in an opposing team’s goal. The 10-minute matches go by quickly, and depending experience with MOBAs, some of the contests can get one-sided quickly.

Sometimes the final results of a match can come across a surprise, since you never see the score during an active match. You only see the final score at the end. In lieu of a specific score board, players get pinged with generalized messages like “We have a huge lead!” and “We’re REALLY struggling!”

In an interview with the developers, Kotaku reporter Ethan Gach asked Pokémon Unite’s producer, Masaaki Hoshino, why the scoreboard is not visible to players.

“The matches last 10 minutes and players have the possibility of making a comeback, so we wanted people to play without giving up to the very end,” Hoshino said.

The lack of scoreboard stops people from giving up and quitting — makes sense. In Pokémon Unite, mechanics like beating Zapdos — which can significantly lower the time it takes to score — can change the tides very quickly. Just one or two competitors hoarding points can go insta-score and completely shift the lead. If you don’t know the score, then you don’t give up too soon.

Although being told that your team is “REALLY struggling” might not be the epitome of encouraging, it could be better than just watching a large gap become even larger.

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