Palworld: A Parody Phenomenon or Pokémon Plagiarism? | GAME3A
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Palworld: A Parody Phenomenon or Pokémon Plagiarism?

In the realm of ludicrously successful survival games, Palworld has taken the gaming world by storm, selling a staggering four million copies in just ...

Ashley Bardhan Jan 23, 2024
Palworld: A Parody Phenomenon or Pokémon Plagiarism?

In the realm of ludicrously successful survival games, Palworld has taken the gaming world by storm, selling a staggering four million copies in just a few days. However, this parody title has now found itself under the scrutinizing gaze of internet sleuths who claim that it goes beyond homage and into the realm of outright plagiarism in its portrayal of 100 Pokémon-like creatures.

Takuro Mizobe, the head of Palworld developer Pocketpair, recently defended the game against these accusations, vehemently denying any intention to infringe on the intellectual property of other companies. He dismissed the allegations as "slanderous" and expressed concern over the negative comments directed at Palworld's artists, even mentioning that they had received death threats.

The controversy originated from a user named byofrog, who raised concerns about Palworld's depiction of animal abuse and pointed out similarities between certain 3D models in Palworld and Pokémon games. While some users agreed with the observations, others, such as X user Hexidimentional, argued that the differences in topography and superior design made it unlikely that direct copying had occurred.

Byofrog's most-shared comparison showed an overlay of Pokémon's Lycanroc model on Palworld's parody version, revealing strikingly similar proportions. This led former Blizzard designer Eric Covington to express skepticism on social media, asserting that accidentally creating models with such near-exact proportions would be practically impossible.

An anonymous videogame character artist commented that while the models appeared different, the Palworld versions might have been built on top of the Pokémon models. They also indicated discomfort in claiming the Palworld models as original work.

Mizobe admitted in a recent blog post that Pocketpair had faced challenges during the production of Palworld's models and animations. They lacked expertise in rigging and struggled with file management. However, after enlisting the help of a veteran animator, they rectified their mistakes and established a more efficient production system.

Amidst the controversy, rumors spread about the possible use of generative AI in Palworld's art, although no direct evidence supported this claim. Some even speculated that the similarities between the Pals and Pokémon might generate more controversy among gamers than among lawyers, as Nintendo has not taken any legal action against Palworld thus far.

Palworld's unexpected surge in popularity, surpassing even Counter-Strike 2 as Steam's most-played game, has brought additional scrutiny to the origins of its 3D models. The game's unique amalgamation of familiar Pokémon elements has sparked debates about originality, taste, and the resilience of PC gamers' resistance to the allure of new early access survival games.

In the end, Palworld's true nature remains a subject of speculation. Is it a triumph of unoriginality and tastelessness or a scrappy team's victory over critical internet voices and zealous Pokémon fans? Personally, I find it to be something more mundane—an undeniable testament to the irresistible appeal of early access survival games for PC gamers.