Palworld, the new monster-taming game, sparked both excitement and outrage when it was released. Combining elements of popular titles like Pokémon, Zelda, Fortnite, and Minecraft, it offers a unique gaming experience.
Players can collect creatures known as “Pals” that bear a striking resemblance to Pokémon, but the game takes a darker turn.
Pals can be slaughtered for meat, enslaved, and even armed with rifles. The game’s early access version sold a staggering 5 million copies in just three days, despite its contentious nature.
But the game has been mired in more controversies, especially in allegations that it has used AI and plagiarized from Pokemon. So, what is going on with Palworld?
The Palworld controversy centers on accusations of character design plagiarism, with claims that the game’s “Pals” closely resemble Pokémon creatures, possibly due to generative AI technology. Players also noted similarities in game locations. While there’s no concrete evidence, Pocketpair, the developer, has a history of AI use, including AI-generated Pokémon images and the game “AI: Art Imposter.”.
Exploring Palworld’s Controversies: Why Is It Accused of AI and Plagiarism?
The controversy surrounding Palworld revolves around accusations of character design plagiarism.
Many players claim that the game’s Pals closely resemble Pokémon creatures, leading to suspicions that generative AI technology may have been used to create them.
As noted by Twitter/ X user @onion_mu, there’s a significant overlap between Palworld’s “Pals” design features and creatures from the Pokémon universe. Also, Twitter/ X user @covingtown backed up the same and said:
“To ‘accidentally’ create a complex model mesh with so near-exact proportions is practically impossible. To repeat that improbability throughout your roster… doesn’t pass the sniff test.”
Additionally, players have raised concerns about the game featuring areas that bear an uncanny resemblance to locations found in Pokémon games.
As of now, there is no concrete evidence to support this. Adding fuel to the fire, Pocketpair, the developer behind Palworld, has a history of using generative AI technology.
The CEO, Takuro Mizobe, has shared AI-generated images of Pokémon on social media, which has raised concerns among players. Pocketpair also released the game “AI: Art Imposter,” which explores the use of AI in creating art.
Palworld’s blend of violence, exploitation, and gameplay mechanics blurs the line between parody, inspiration, and plagiarism.
While the game’s aesthetic strongly resembles Pokémon, it doesn’t appear to parody the Pokémon world directly.
But some argue that it may be a parody of the sanitized, cute Pokémon universe, while others believe it draws inspiration from various monster-taming games.
One factor contributing to the game’s lack of a distinctive aesthetic is the small and relatively inexperienced development team.
According to Mizobe, the character designs in Palworld are primarily created by a recent graduate who is known for her speed and talent. This inexperience and small team size could explain the game’s visual identity issues.
Pocketpair CEO Mizobe responded to the controversy, acknowledging the accusations but neither confirming nor denying them. He wrote:
“Currently, we are receiving slanderous comments against our artists, and we are seeing tweets that appear to be death threats…I would appreciate it if you would refrain from slandering the artists involved in Palworld.”
The Pokémon Company also released an official statement, expressing their intention to investigate any potential infringement of intellectual property rights related to Pokémon.
“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.”
The outcome of all such accusations remains to be seen.
Despite the controversy and comparisons to Pokémon, Palworld has shattered records within weeks of its early access launch.
While it’s not the first game accused of being a Pokémon clone, it is the first to achieve mainstream success and pose a potential challenge to Pokémon’s dominance.
As of now, Palworld is available exclusively on Xbox consoles and PC via Steam and Game Pass.
Do you think the devs of Palworld have plagiarized from Pokemon? What can be done if the allegations are proven true?
Let us know in the comments below.