Fans of Pokémon-inspired MMO Temtem are arguing with the developer about what MMO means after Crema CEO says it’s ‘not feasible’ to keep adding content forever

Temtem developer Crema announced a new game earlier this week called Temtem: Swarm, the latest Vampire Survivorsification of an existing game that eschews collecting and training in favor of all-out inter-Tem violence. 

The news did not go over entirely well as some players of the 2022 Pokémon-style game complained about Temtem being abandoned, and that situation did not get better when Kikill0—that’s Crema CEO Enrique Paños Montoya—waded into the fray to tell those fans exactly how they’re wrong.

Temtem is widely regarded as an MMO: The 2018 Kickstarter described it as a “massively multiplayer creature-collection adventure,” and it’s also categorized as such on Steam. But what exactly that means has been a matter of debate literally for years. In 2018, for instance, game director Guillermo Andrades said the studio has “never used the MMO label,” but that it is an MMO in the sense that it’s massively multiplayer and online. (Relevant: the latest episode of our podcast, PC Gamer Chat Log, digs into this very subject!)

“Whatever everyone has in its minds for when they hear MMO…. we can’t control that,” Andrades wrote. “We have always been pretty clear and upfront to what we’re trying to make. On the campaign, on the FAQs and every time we’ve been approached with the question.”

In his own lengthy statement on the Temtem Discord, later posted to Reddit, Montoya leaned into the same concept. “Crema has always been very honest about what the game was and what it is,” he wrote. “The community expects to add infinite content, which is costly in terms of time and money, and just because it carries the MMO label, but MMO doesn’t mean infinite.

“It’s compared to other MMOs, even though Crema has clarified since 2018 that it wouldn’t be like those MMOs. But when comparing it to other MMOs, the small detail is forgotten that those MMOs have a subscription model or are free but with pay-to-win practices. They are sustainable in that way.”

As it stands, Montoya wrote, Temtem is “a game that gives you a minimum of 50 hours of adventure, and another 50 hours of side quests and different features that are not part of the adventure. In total, around 100 hours of gameplay just for a complete game that is not in Early Access and there are things still being added to it.” In other words, it’s a full and complete experience—and at this point, “it is not feasible to continue,” Montoya added.

I’d say that’s a defensible position. Temtem has been around for a few years now (including its early access period, which began in January 2020) and at some point, especially when faced with declining (or non-existent) revenue generation, studios are going to want to move on to other things. The dispute seems to be born largely from conflicting expectations: Temtem is an MMO (although Montoya seemed to express some regret about embracing that label, saying “if we were to make the game again from scratch, very different decisions would be made”) but it’s not a live service game, which is clearly what some players want from it.

That seems to be like a divide that could be bridged, but Montoya went a little too far when he suggested that real Temtem fans would want Crema to move on to something else anyway.

“If you really want [the] Temtem franchise to live on and more games to be made, be it spin-offs or Temtem 2, what you would really ask for is for us to stop improving Temtem 1 and start working on something new,” he wrote. “As of now, we are improving Temtem 1 just for you, even if it never seems enough.”

That did not go over well on the Temtem subreddit, where people referred to it with terms like “arrogance” and “one of the most short-sighted statements I’ve ever seen.” A small review bomb campaign followed on Steam, where 43 negative reviews over a few days dragged the recent review rating to “mostly negative,” although the overall rating remains “very positive.”

Lost amidst all of this is that Temtem isn’t by any means disappearing. During subsequent conversations about the game on Discord, Montoya said Temtem “could be a living thing for decades or even more,” much like Pokémon is. And in a subsequent statement provided to GamesRadar, Crema said “there might be a little misunderstanding” about the future of the game.

“We are still working on Temtem, it will receive more updates as we are still working on the game,” a studio rep said. “Temtem: Swarm, our latest announcement, is being co-developed with GGTech. We just want to make sure it’s clear that Crema is working on both projects at the same time. We haven’t stopped focusing on Temtem.”

What that will ultimately lead to remains to be seen. A small patch went live yesterday making a handful of balance changes and bug fixes, and Montoya said in his missive that Temtem “is still being updated [and] improved,” and that the promised Arcade Bar, a Kickstarter stretch goal that will add arcade-style mini-games, is still in the works. For now, the bottom line seems to be this: Never start a land war in Asia, don’t insult seven men when all you’re packing is a six-shooter, and choose your words very carefully when you’re trying to mollify angry gamers.

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