Game Freak was originally a self-published gaming magazine created by Satoshi Tajiri and Ken Sugimori in the 1980s. Tajiri wrote and edited the text and Sugimori illustrated. Tajiri also used "Game Freak" as his pen name when he wrote as a freelance writer for magazines like Family Computer Magazine and Famicom Tsūshin. On April 26, 1989, Tajiri and Sugimori started a video game development company with the same name.
When Tajiri first pitched the idea of what would become Pokémon to Nintendo, they could not grasp its concept, but were impressed enough with Tajiri's game design reputation that they decided to explore it. Shigeru Miyamoto guided Tajiri during the creation process. The first set of Pokémon games took six years to produce, and their production put a lot of finanial strain on Game Freak. Five employees quit and Tajiri did not take a salary, instead living off of his father's income. Additional funds from Creatures allowed Game Freak to complete the games and in return, Creatures received one-third of the Pokémon franchise rights. Between the approval and completion stages of the first set of Pokémon games, Game Freak got involved in the development of two Nintendo games: Yoshi and Mario & Wario.
In 2012, Game Freak started to let newcomers pitch new game ideas. They dubbed it the "Gear Project" with the first one being HarmoKnight.
In 2015, they purchased mobile game developer Koa Games. In February 2020, they moved into a larger office called Kanda Square. This building now holds Nintendo's Tokyo teams, HAL Laboratory and 1-Up Studio.