'Palworld' Has Already Caused Controversy in its First Month

From potential copyright infringement and AI usage to being able to keep humans as slaves, 'Palworld' has some controversies.

Sara Belcher - Author
By

Feb. 14 2024, Published 7:04 p.m. ET

Palworld
Source: Pocketpair

The viral "Pokémon with guns" game Palworld quickly garnered attention for its violent similarity to the well-loved monster-catching franchise. In Palworld, players can capture various creatures they find in the overworld, known as "Pals," as well as engage in battle with their various Pals. Once you've captured one, you can also equip it with weapons like guns to further deal damage to potential opponents.

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It didn't take long after the game's launch for it to go viral — but with a viral sensation usually comes a controversy or two. And Palworld has about three it's currently dealing with, less than a month after its launch.

The game's publishers and developers have been accused of plagiarism and using AI to create assets, as well as faced general outcry for some of the more graphic content in the game.

Palworld
Source: Pocketpair
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'Palworld' developers accused of copying Pokémon designs.

Right off the bat, anyone who's spent any time in Palworld will be able to tell you that some of the Pals bear a striking resemblance to some Pokémon. This isn't necessarily a difficult coincidence — there are more than 1,000 Pokémon now across nine generations, many of which are inspired by real-life animals, insects, and creatures.

That said, some on social media compared some of these creatures side by side and accused developer Pocketpair of ripping off The Pokémon Company.

Onlly a week after Palworld's release, The Pokémon Company released a statement on its website addressing the concern.

"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," it said. "We intend to investigate and take appropriate measures to address any acts that infringe on intellectual property rights related to the Pokémon."

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Palworld
Source: Pocketpair

At this time, it's unclear if The Pokémon Company will pursue legal action against the Palworld developers, though it seems clear that the company is taking the potential copyright infringement seriously.

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The CEO of Pocketpair has promoted using generative AI.

As AI becomes increasingly common online, its use in video games is still controversial, especially when it comes to using it to generate artwork. In a viral thread on Twitter, one user shared various screenshots from Pocketpair CEO Takuro Mizobe in which he promoted the use of AI in his studio.

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To further raise some eyebrows, the CEO even shared images of Pokémon generated by AI, writing "The AI has evolved so much that I can no longer tell which one is a Pokémon."

While this does not confirm that Palworld is a direct ripoff of Pokémon, it does not ease some concerns players have.

Some are also taking issue with the violent content in 'Palworld.'

Gamers are no strangers to violence in games, but Palworld takes it to an entirely different level. In addition to catching Pals, players can also catch humans they come across throughout the overworld, allowing them to be enslaved and put to work. Of course, this does result in some in-game disciplinary action from the NPCs, but it's still a troubling direction the developers have decided to take the game in.

You can also butcher your various Pals and make them into meals, which hasn't gone over well with all players.

Again, violent and gruesome content isn't necessarily new in video games, but the shock value is especially noticeable to those who thought it was a Pokémon knock-off.

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