Palworld drama explained: Why Pokemon fans are fuming at overnight sensation

Ethan Dean
Palworld Drama explained

Palword’s raging success hasn’t made the game immune to controversy and as the player count rises, so do the accusations. We’ve got all the details on the Palworld drama right here.

Palworld hit the scene with explosive force and has broken Steam records like it’s going out of style. Its appealing blend of creature-catching and survival mechanics has captured the attention of millions of players with an eye-watering 1,582,482 concurrent players at its peak.

While Palworld players have lots of praise for the game, it’s not without its detractors. The Pokemon community has been particularly vocal in calling out what they claim is a “ripoff”. Though Palworld’s own player base isn’t shy about hitting back.

As the two fanbases go back and forth, multiple accusations have been leveled at Palworld’s developer Pocketpair. Chief among them are the use of Generative AI in their creature design, plagiarising the designs of Pokemon, and even directly importing Pokemon models into the game. Below is everything you need to know about the Palworld drama.

Contents:

A screenshot from the game Palworld
Palworld has become an overnight sensation for millions of gamers. Just not all of them.

Palworld accused of using generative AI

The first accusation leveled at Palworld and its development team is that they may have used generative AI to craft assets and even the game’s creatures known as Pals. As far as we can tell, this supposition comes from numerous interviews and Tweets from Pocketpair’s CEO Takuro Mizobe extolling the virtues of AI.

Those opposing Palworld have also pointed to a little-known game developed by Pocketpair called AI: Art Imposter. It’s a game that uses generative AI to create artwork that players must scrutinize in order to find the source images.

Despite these two points, there is currently no concrete evidence that Palworld has used any form of generative AI in its development. Steam’s own policy demands the disclosure of AI usage on their platform and Palworld has no such information present.

Despite being the easiest element of the Palworld drama to debunk so far, accusations of generative AI usage for Palworld are stated as fact in many criticisms. It should be noted that while there is currently no hard evidence of foul play in this regard, that does not mean that it couldn’t come to light later on.

Has Palworld plagiarised Pokemon?

Pokemon fans have gone as far as to say that Palworld plagiarised the very concept of Pokemon. However, the primary concern from a collective of passionate Pokemon players and artists is that Palworld may have plagiarised the designs of certain creatures from the Pokemon franchise. Many people are boycotting the game because of this.

As multiple Twitter users have pointed out, there are some glaring similarities between Pals like Anubis and Pokemon like Lucario and this has fuelled the Palworld drama further. Some of the comparisons are a little tenuous but others have raised questions.

While these accusations refer mostly to creature concepts, some critics have accused Palworld’s developers of stealing frames and models directly from Pokemon. 

Twitter user byofrog has been creating short videos merging in-game models from Pokemon and Palworld to highlight their similarities. They have noted that the models are not exactly the same, but they and others are concerned with the similarity.

https://twitter.com/covingtown/status/1749462735291859423

Palworld’s Director responded to the accusations of plagiarism calling them “slanderous”. In the response, he revealed that the Palworld drama had resulted in death threats to his staff.

Can Nintendo sue Pocketpair?

Since Palworld’s early access launch, numerous people have made the assertion that Nintendo should sue Pocketpair. Some are in the form of memes and jokes, but others have given more considered arguments.

Conceptually, Palworld is immune from any copyright infringement thanks to its difference in genre and target audience. Most of the suggestions that Nintendo should consider legal action stem from the similarity between certain Pals and Pokemon.

While gamers and artists on Twitter seem to think there are fair grounds for legal recourse, lawyers do not. Speaking to Rock Paper Shotgun, Media Law Specialist Tim Cotton determined that Palworld’s Pals were “sufficiently different that there’s no problem”.

Richard Hoeg of Hoeg Law echoed similar sentiments on Twitter. He qualified that while Nintendo can attempt to sue, they probably shouldn’t as the company would have a difficult time winning a copyright suit.

That’s the Palworld drama in a nutshell. New threads are emerging every day as people continue their crusade against the game.

If the accusations detailed in this breakdown haven’t turned you away from the game, check out our Palworld guides to become a more efficient slave driver.

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About The Author

Ethan Dean is a Staff Writer on the Australian Dexerto team. He graduated from RMIT with a Bachelors Degree in Journalism and has been freelance writing in the gaming space ever since. His favorite game is the third-person, open world flavor of the month and when he doesn't have a controller in his hands, there's a paintbrush in them. He's a self-described Warhammer nerd and a casual DnD player too. You can contact Ethan at ethan.dean@dexerto.com