Palworld Rocks the Industry

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“Pokémon with guns” has sprung up almost out of nowhere breaking records, causing controversy, and being just plain fun. There’s no mistaking the similarities between the character models in Palworld and the Pokémon that basically raised a generation of gamers, and that might be where a lot of the allure originates from, but it’s the gameplay that has gamers hooked. Before looking at the controversies, let’s explore the game for what it is.

Palworld is an early-access open world survival game that is inhabited by “Pals.” These creatures wander around looking adorable and minding their own business until you find them. Upon finding them, you have quite a few options on what you can choose to do. You can pick them up and use one as a weapon, shoot it, knock it unconscious, or capture it, to name a few. After you’ve captured them, you can make the Pals work for you to farm, build weapons in automated factories, and use their specials skills to make your life easier. The game even adds in the description “Don't worry; there are no labor laws for Pals” as if they already know what players will do with them. If you’re venturing out, you can explore dungeons with the Pals or even ride them. If you do get into sticky situations, its an option to make those Pals fight to the death for you. It seems brutal at first, but players seem to get over it pretty quickly. There’s also sanctuaries where you can sneak in and find rare Pals to capture, and then you can breed them to get the rarest of the Pals. At the moment, you can have up to 4 players at a time with multiplayer with 32 on one server. These quantities will be raised in future updates as well as the inclusion of PvP. 

In the past, when games that closely resemble a beloved game from our childhood hits the market, it is usually met with negative opinions and distrust. That may be true for a few that are unfamiliar with Palworld, but 104,777 Postitive reviews on Steam says the majority of gamers are having a great time. A older, slightly buggier, edition of the game is also free on Xbox’s Gamepass, which is no doubt contributing to the surge of popularity. It’s so popular, in fact, that Palworld has sold over 8 million copies since it’s launch on January 19th! Palworld has rocked the charts on Steam by achieving the milestone of 2,033,118 online players on Steam, surpassing Dota 2 and Counter Strike 2. In fact, the only game that can beat that number is PUBG with 3,257,248. Only time will tell if the hype for Palworld continues, but no one can take away the records they’ve already made.

Now, let’s finally address the Phanpy in the room. Among the excitement and the controversy, there’s still the looming question of how Pocketpair has been able to get this far. The answer to that is a bit unclear, much like IP law itself. Video game lawyer Haley MacLean explains in a video that the law sometimes comes down to a judge’s own perception of whether it falls under “fair use” or if it was too similar at all. She goes on to describe the ways the court would go through determining if there was copyright infringement, you can watch that video here. On January 24th, The Pokémon company released a statement:

We have received many inquiries regarding another company’s game released in January 2024. We have not granted any permission for the use of Pokémon intellectual property or assets in that game. We intend to investigate and take appropriate measures to address any acts that infringe on intellectual property rights related to the Pokémon. We will continue to cherish and nurture each and every Pokémon and its world, and work to bring the world together through Pokémon in the future.

The Pokémon Company

It’s no mystery that Palworld borrows a lot of it’s inspiration from Pokémon. Some have said that the Pals look as if someone has taken a model of a Pokémon and changed it juuuust enough. There’s even a rumor that the characters have been made by asking an AI to change them, but there’s no concrete proof of this. There are some general concepts that are the same at Pokémon, but once you get into the game, the gameplay differs greatly. You absolutely wont find any guns within the world of Pokémon and you wont find yourself battling other players in a gym in Palworld. Palworld is more focused on survival and finding, creating, and maintaining resources and the crueler aspects of being able to control the Pals within it’s world when it lets you eat, sell, or even work your Pals to death. One might go so far as to say this is more on an “adult” version of Pokémon. 

The legalities might be unknown, but we do know that this game is a fun time filled with nostalgia, excitement, and potential, so we might as well give it a chance while we can!

Replies • 8

Le conquérant

The game is stil in early access and it shows, many places for improvement, but they really did a good job in character design and pals animation ! I am curious to see how they will improve this game, and if they will allow mods and stuff !

Honestly it's one of the only Pokemon "copies" that doesn't actually feel like another blatant copy!



they may be pals but everyone I know calls them pokemon and thats kinda all nintendo may need to sue