The Pokémon Company Issues Statement After Palworld Attracts Plagiarism Allegations

Palworld, the viral hit action-adventure survival title that has come under intense scrutiny over the alleged likeness of its in-game creatures to the cute monsters from Pokémon, could be staring at legal trouble. The Pokémon Company, which manages the iconic franchise, has finally released an official statement addressing the swirling plagiarism accusations against Palworld, albeit without naming the game directly. Palworld released in early access on January 19 and quickly took the Steam charts by storm, with developers Pocketpair confirming Thursday that the game had sold over eight million copies.

In its statement issued Thursday, The Pokémon Company said it intended to investigate any alleged instances of copyright infringement on part of the newly released game. “We have received many inquiries regarding another company’s game released in January 2024,” the statement said, pointing to Palworld in all but name. “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. We will continue to cherish and nurture each and every Pokémon and its world, and work to bring the world together through Pokémon in the future.”

The Pokémon Company manages the intellectual property rights of Pokémon, said to be the world’s most lucrative media franchise with revenue estimates reaching $88 billion. The IP rights are collectively owned by Nintendo, Game Freak and Creatures, with Nintendo infamously known to be highly litigious when it comes to protecting the rights for its franchises. In fact, the Pokémon publisher might have already acted against Palworld PC mods that turn the game’s in-game creatures into actual Pokémon, with one modder saying “Nintendo has come for me” after his modded gameplay video on X was taken down earlier this week.

Palworld has been surrounded by plagiarism allegations since its release, with several gamers, game developers and Internet commentators pointing out uncanny similarities between the creature design of the game and that of Pokémon. An X user even went as far as to compare 3D models from Palworld and Pokémon games side-by-side, pointing out resemblances in specific creatures. Back-and-forth discussions over the limits of inspiration and what constitutes plagiarism in gaming have since raged on, with several developers weighing in. Some have defended Palworld, noting the derivative nature of the medium and claiming that Pocketpair’s survival title contains enough original ideas, in addition to effectively mashing together elements from popular games like Ark: Survival Evolved, Fortnite, Rust and Pokémon.

Meanwhile, Pocketpair confirmed Thursday morning that Palworld had sold over eight million copies in less than six days. The game continues to be a sensation even with the cloud of plagiarism accusations hanging above. Palworld is currently the most played game on Steam with a 24-hour peak concurrent player count of a whopping 2,018,905. It is now only behind PUBG: Battlegrounds in the list of all-time most played games on Valve’s platform.

Palworld features Pokémon-style animals, or Pals, that can be captured and tamed for combat, traversal and base building in the game’s open world, thus attracting the moniker “Pokémon with Guns.” The game is available on PC (via Steam), Xbox One and Xbox Series S/X and is also included with Xbox Game Pass.

What are the most exciting titles that gamers can look forward to in 2023? We discuss some of our favourites on the latest episode of Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.

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