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The Sad Reason We'll Never See A Real Pokemon MMO

Why don't we have a Pokemon MMO yet? Pokemon fans are starting to crave something new, and while Game Freak has been giving us beloved JRPG adventures with adorable critters for the last twenty years, the formula is starting to get stale. As seen with the divisive reception of the latest entries in the storied Pokemon franchise, Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield, Pokemon players are expecting more out of Game Freak than ever before. 

Sure, there's Pokemon Mystery Dungeon, but that's not an MMO. The world of Pokemon seems tailor-made for that kind of experience. Just imagine: exploring various regions, collecting the Pokemon that live there, and battling other players in real time. We'd gladly fork over our money for a chance at this game... but it's not going to happen. At least not officially.

It might be too big of a task for Game Freak

If Game Freak is sure to make gobs of cash on an MMO, why not make one? The sad thing is that, even after 20 years of experience, Game Freak isn't up to the task. Game Freak isn't exactly an indie studio, but it likes to behave like one. The original two Pokemon games were the work of a crack team of just 20 people. Pokemon Sword and Shield's producer, Junichi Masuda, is apparently nostalgic for that time and to this day prefers to keep his staff sparse.

In an interview with Game Informer, he said that he prefers that 20 person staff over the couple hundred people who worked on the latest game. A Pokemon massively multiplayer online game would take a massive team to build, and Game Freak doesn't enjoy having a huge amount of employees. It outsourced much of the animation for Pokemon Sun and Moon in order to keep the company indie-esque. 

Japanese MMOs like Final Fantasy 14 require years of work, dedicated teams, and constant updates. Game Freak will continue to produce new Pokemon games every few years, but it doesn't seem likely its going to suddenly dedicate a couple hundred workers it doesn't have to the years-long process of making an MMO.

There are plenty of fan-made MMOs

A cursory Google search might confuse you: it seems like there are tons of Pokemon MMOs out there. All of these experiences, however, are fan-made, created by Pokemon trainers who want to play alongside their friends in a wider Pokemon world. PokeMMO combines Pokemon FireRed, Emerald, and Black and White, allowing for players to customize their sprites and journey through three regions with their favorite Pokemon trailing behind them.

There are others out there, too.

If fans — who are presumably not being paid — can manage to make an MMO, why not Game Freak? Like we said, it's a huge undertaking. If Game Freak really wanted to make an MMO, it would have significantly more polish than PokeMMO, likely feature a wholly original new story, and maybe include a new region and perhaps some new Pokemon, too.

As Game Freak stands now — keeping things small and contracting out core work on mainline games — it is not equipped to handle the production of a full fledged MMO.

TemTem might fill the void

Capitalizing on the craving for a real Pokemon MMO, the folks at CremaGames have created TemTem. The moment that TemTem hit gamers' newsfeeds, people were comparing it to Pokemon. And they are right to: TemTem is about catching critters, training them, and then battling them. Sounds familiar, right? 

The difference is that TemTem is an MMO. You can battle against friends, explore the world at will, and befriend strangers who are also training their TemTem. It might be a clone, but it's getting a lot of positive attention for doing what Game Freak won't.