FRANCHISE CLONING CONTROVERSIES

FRANCHISE+CLONING+CONTROVERSIES

Photographs courtesy of POLYGON.COM

A massive multiplayer online (MMO) game has raised some questions of copyright in online communities. Developed by Spanish studio Crema, the game Temtem gives players the opportunity to roam across a world populated by diverse species of adorable creatures. After taming and befriending these creatures, tamers can battle their friends, breed their Temtems and even help their Temtems evolve into new forms. Does all of this sound familiar? If not, I am sorry you never got exposed to the magic that is the Pokémon series.

Heavily resembling many of the core mechanics of Pokémon, the game drew a lot of mixed reactions from fans. For the most part, fans of the series were overjoyed that they would finally be able to play a Pokémon style MMO, but that praise did bear hints of disappointment. Despite receiving full support on crowdfunding website Kickstarter, backers and hopeful fans were concerned that the game would receive a copyright strike.

Concerns over a possible takedown stem mostly from Nintendo’s strict copyright enforcement policies. Fan-made games like Breath of the NES (a retro clone of Nintendo’s smash hit The Legend Of Zelda Breath Of The Wild) and Pokemon Uranium were swiftly shut down upon gaining online attention. It is important to note that these fan creations both directly used names and assets from the IPs they were seeking to pay homage to.

As Temtem does not directly use original Pokémon assets and functions as an MMO, it has slipped through present legal contests. Whether or not this legal safe zone will hold appears to be a settled issue. As the game is currently planning a release on the Nintendo Switch e-shop, it is highly unlikely the game will be taken down. This game may not force a change in copyright law, but it could potentially shift the way Nintendo (and other studios) handle cases of fan-created content in the future.

In the future Temtem could lead to larger studios issuing policies regarding the creation of content such as mods and homage projects. As of now studios like Bethesda (creators of popular RPG hit Skyrim) do have guidelines for this content, so the ball is already rolling. If you are interested in playing Temtem it is currently available in early access through the digital curators Steam and Humble. As of now, releases on console platforms are not clearly scheduled, but the game will be coming to PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.