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Could Palworld be the biggest game of 2024 due to its inclusion of Pokémon armed with firearms?
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Could Palworld be the biggest game of 2024 due to its inclusion of Pokémon armed with firearms?


The start of the new year may have just begun, but it appears that we already have the biggest game of 2024. Surprisingly, it’s not a high-budget sci-fi spectacle set in a vast fictional universe by a major game publisher. Instead, it’s a survival adventure developed by a small Japanese company, which has only previously released one game. This game, called Palworld, has been accurately described as “Pokémon with guns”. Despite this potentially off-putting description, it seems that many people are interested in it. Within just three days of its release on January 18th, it had already sold 5 million copies. What could possibly be the reason for this unexpected success?

What is Palworld?

Palworld, created by Pocketpair in Tokyo, is classified as a survival adventure game. In this type of game, players are placed in a challenging open-world setting and must find ways to survive, such as by locating food and shelter, creating tools, and battling against foes like extraterrestrial beings or ravenous wolves. While Minecraft is often considered the most well-known survival adventure game, other titles like Rust, Ark, Don’t Starve, and Subnautica also fall into this category.

What is your job?

A screenshot of Palworld shows a character shooting at a monsterView image in fullscreen

You play as a character who enters the beautiful Palpagos Islands, where you must use your skills in farming, cooking, building shelters, and fighting against different enemy groups in order to survive. The islands are also home to over 100 adorable creatures known as Pals, each with their own unique abilities. You can catch these cute creatures and either utilize them in battles or have them assist you in creating useful objects at your base.

A significant portion of the game revolves around discovering the environment, searching for Pals and gathering resources. It is crucial to keep track of your hunger and collect resources. By battling foes with your recruited Pals, you can unlock additional crafting recipes and progress through a diverse technology tree. You have the option to play solo or, if you opt for the PC version, you can join up to 31 other players referred to as “pal tamers” online.

It’s funny, it’s silly, and it’s weirdly engrossing even though all the separate elements are so recognisable. Some feel that Pokémon developer Game Freak has been too reticent to really shake up its ageing series over the last five years, and that Palworld is the modern incarnation longterm fans have been crying out for. It’s certainly gone down very well with lots of top video game influencers, becoming the No 1 game on streaming platform Twitch within a day of its release. This has certainly helped with attention.

Could this be described as a capitalist imitation of Pokémon, highlighting the unethical use of these creatures as mere commodities?

I think you may be overcomplicating it, but let’s go for it. Interestingly, one of the groups you encounter in the game is the Free Pal Alliance, a group that fights for the liberation of Pals from enslavement.

Palworld video game.View image in fullscreen

Is there frustration among individuals regarding the evident connections to Pokémon?

The game has sparked a lot of controversy due to its striking similarities to Pokémon. Some developers have accused the creator of copying creature designs, while also using elements from other popular survival games such as Ark and Rust. However, the companies behind Pokémon, namely Nintendo, Creatures, and The Pokémon Company, have yet to make a statement. Former legal team manager for The Pokémon Company, Don McGowan, expressed his thoughts on the matter, stating that it is a common occurrence in the industry. He added that he is surprised it has received this much attention.

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According to Pocketpair’s CEO and lead developer, Takuro Mizobe, the game has been reviewed to ensure it meets all legal standards and does not violate any copyright laws.

Additionally, Pokémon is not the sole game centered on the pursuit of capturing monsters. Other games like Digimon and Monster Rancher have been in existence for years alongside it, and the entire genre draws inspiration from the popular Japanese pastime of collecting insects. Therefore, it is not a concept that can be claimed as exclusive. The evolution of video games is marked by successful ideas being adapted and enhanced, with many modern genres originating from one or two highly successful predecessors.

There has been a discussion surrounding the use of AI-generated art by the studio without informing the platforms or players. Mizobe has previously shown interest in AI art generation. According to Steam, studios must disclose any use of AI-generated assets in games sold on their site. This has raised concerns in the industry about potential job displacement due to widespread use of generative AI and the ethical issue of using copyrighted material without permission. However, there is no proof that Pocketpair has utilized AI models in this manner.

Where is it possible for me to play?

The game is currently in the process of being developed and is undergoing fixes for any issues. If you have a computer, you can purchase the Early Access version for £25 on Steam. There is also a preview version available on Xbox, but it is not as stable and does not have the 32-player online mode yet. You can play with two to four players cooperatively. If you are interested in playing with adorable mini monsters armed with machine guns, this is the game for you.

Source: theguardian.com