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The Impact of Pressing Buttons: My Disinterest in Palworld
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The Impact of Pressing Buttons: My Disinterest in Palworld


The most significant gaming event of the year thus far has been the release of Palworld, an early access game that has gained attention for its combination of “Pokémon” elements with gunplay. The game has set and broken records for the number of players online at once on PC. However, there are indications that this success may not be sustainable, as the number of players has decreased in recent weeks and the developers have disclosed the high cost of maintaining servers for such a large player base (nearly $6 million per year). Despite this, Palworld still has a chance to become the top grossing game of 2024.

Critics and other developers have expressed discomfort with Palworld, citing similarities to Pokemon and the use of AI tools. These concerns have led to allegations of plagiarism, as some 3D models in the game closely resemble those from recent Pokemon games. While the Pokemon Company is investigating these claims, Palworld’s CEO claims they have passed legal reviews and have no intention of infringing on any intellectual property. The lead developer’s open use of AI tools has also garnered backlash, as it goes against the popular opinion among game developers in 2024, except for certain company executives.

Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, from 2022.View image in fullscreen

The game takes inspiration from various other games, but lacks originality. While playing Palworld, one may be reminded of Ark: Survival Evolved, a survival game from nine years ago where players tame dinosaurs and engage in tasks such as gathering, building, and crafting. Once a creature is captured, it becomes either a servant at your base or a companion in battles outside of civilization.

This game may seem familiar to fans of survival games, but Palworld streamlines the experience by eliminating tedious tasks and allowing for quick progression. Similar to the popular game Genshin Impact, it takes common gaming elements and presents them in a way that is both effortless and addicting.

Fortunately, there are no other individuals attempting to spoil your enjoyment, as seen in the games Ark and Rust, where there is always someone waiting to attack you and steal your belongings. In Palworld, player versus player competition is not currently available (although it is planned for future versions), and instead, players collaborate on a server. The game’s outlook on its creatures is ruthless – they are meant to be slain, dominated, or consumed – but it is very hospitable towards players. There are valid explanations for its widespread popularity.

However, I struggle to develop a liking for Palworld. It lacks depth and seems to have a significant number of young players in its 19 million player community, despite not being designed for children. In contrast, the Pokémon franchise, which heavily influences Palworld’s creature design, has evolved over 25 years and is beloved by children. In Pokémon, the creatures are not just pets but companions and battles are purely for sport. While Peta may not approve of the concept, no harm is caused to the creatures and there is no use of weapons or consumption of them.


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Palworld is reminiscent of the exaggerated fears held by concerned parents and religious leaders in the late 1990s about the popular game Pokémon. During this time, Time Magazine published fear-inducing articles with titles like “Beware of the Pokémania” and Christian organizations claimed that Pikachu was a literal embodiment of Satan. In 1999, Time even went so far as to state, “Monsters make for unsettling playmates. Despite their playful appearance, monsters are unnatural and ultimately tap into unresolved fears.” However, they also acknowledged the appeal of these creatures to children, stating, “Consider the alluring charm of Pokémon…children between the ages of four and twelve can develop worrisome obsessions with them.” Looking back, these sentiments seem ridiculous, but it was once commonplace for mainstream media to demonize video games as a sign of moral decay in the youth of the 90s.

I am not trying to cause a panic about Palworld. It may be cynical, but it is not overly harmful and quite engaging. I would not allow a seven-year-old to play it, but anyone over 12 has probably seen worse content on YouTube. It is possible that there is nothing truly original anymore, and most popular games will just be recycled versions of what we have already experienced. However, I am optimistic that the next surprise hit I come across this year will bring me joy instead of discomfort.

What to play

Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator.View image in fullscreen

On Valentine’s Day, I want to recommend a game that explores the theme of love, a topic that is not often addressed in video games. Dream Daddy is a dating simulation game where you take on the role of a single father searching for love among seven other eligible single fathers in your new neighborhood. When it was released in 2017, many people thought it would be a tired joke, but it has proven to be one of the most genuine and unexpectedly heartfelt dating games. Your teenage daughter plays a crucial role in helping you gather the courage to approach your desired partner, and the game also includes quirky mini-games that add a surreal element to the experience. For example, you may compete with your date by showing off your pride in your children’s accomplishments. Ultimately, this game is about the love between a parent and child, as well as the romantic relationships that develop between you and the attractive single fathers in your neighborhood. Each character has their own unique struggles and stories, which are portrayed with a combination of humor and empathy.

This product is accessible on the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PC, and smartphones.

Approximate duration: 2-10 hours, varying based on the number of fathers you choose to go on dates with.

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What to read

Star Wars x Fortnite, anyone? Disney has invested $1.5bn in Fortnite maker Epic.View image in fullscreen
  • We are anticipating Microsoft’s plans for the future of the Xbox, which will be revealed tomorrow evening via a podcast featuring key Xbox leaders Sarah Bond, Phil Spencer, and Matt Booty. According to a recent study by 2K Games, the PS5 appears to have sold twice as many units as the Xbox Series X.

  • I greatly enjoyed reading Gene Park’s article for the Washington Post, titled “A Japanese Video Game Series Showcases Admirable Masculinity through Acts of Kindness and Heroism”. It effectively captures the essence of why these games are so popular, especially for those who may not have the time to play them for hours on end.

  • A duo of private equity firms has acquired the British producer of Jagex, the firm responsible for Runescape, for a sum of £900m.

  • Disney has put $1.5 billion into Epic Games in order to collaborate on a new “persistent universe” that will provide a variety of experiences for consumers to interact with Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, Avatar, and other content. This could potentially result in an increase of Star Wars-themed items in the popular game Fortnite.

What to click

  • “A tribute to game designer Laralyn McWilliams, praising her as a stunningly intelligent individual.”

  • The perspective of The Guardian on video games: Artificially created virtual worlds are impacting the real world.

  • Why is the gaming industry, worth $180 billion, laying off thousands of employees?

Question Block

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

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This week’s inquiry is from Rosie in New Zealand.

Which games do you suggest for a teenage gamer who enjoys mature titles like Dead By Daylight, Left for Dead, Hitman, and Red Dead Redemption on PC?

I am a fan of the Switch, but it may not be suitable for teenagers or adults who are not in touch with their inner child. Its reputation as a family-friendly console and lower power compared to the Xbox and PlayStation means it lacks adult-oriented games, including popular titles like Call of Duty or PlayStation exclusives like The Last of Us and God of War. However, the original Red Dead Redemption is now available on the Switch, as well as the Metro Redux games which are interesting post-apocalyptic shooters that have stood the test of time. If someone is looking for a fantasy game with thrilling combat, they may enjoy The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt or Dark Souls. The Switch also offers old-school shooter and horror vibes with games like Bioshock and Resident Evil collections. Unfortunately, most of these games are remakes or rereleases and the latest multiplayer shooters or horror games cannot be found on this console. They can easily be found on a PC instead.

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Source: theguardian.com