The makers of Palword, a new video game launched this weekend that many are calling “Pokémon with guns,” received death threats due to the close resemblance the game shares to the beloved Nintendo video game. Pokémon diehards took to X to express their frustration with Pocketpair’s new game, which sold five million copies across PC and Xbox in just a few days, according to the Palworld official X account.
“Currently, we are receiving slanderous comments against our artists, and we are seeing tweets that appear to be death threats,” said Pocketpair CEO Takuro Mizobe in a tweet on Monday. “I would appreciate it if you would refrain from slandering the artists involved in Palworld.”
Gamers have called out some convincing similarities between Palworld and Pokémon. Palworld’s Grintale looks an awful lot like Pokémon’s Galarian Meowth. Another Palworld design looks strikingly similar to Lucario, and one shares a resemblance to Lilligant.
People make fan games all the time, but the main source of frustration from fans comes from the commercialisation of these characters as something new. This game could generate some serious revenue; it’s one of six games ever to hit a million concurrent Steam players. Some are questioning whether the game should be allowed to “rip off” Pokémon like this, but the creators are standing behind Palword.
There are also accusations that the developers used AI in the creation of the game although there isn’t much evidence for it, according to Forbes. Older tweets from Mizobe mentioned using AI art in games including a mention of how the tech created fake Pokémon that could be confused with real ones, and the developer released a game in 2022 called AI: Art Impostor.
The concept behind Palworld is a familiar one. A human character battles, trains, and captures different creatures called “pals.” There’s an open-world multiplayer setting where you can engage in battles with friends, steal their pals and items, and, oh yeah, there are guns.
Pocketpair is not afraid of a copyright lawsuit from Nintendo, according to Kotaku. The video game has reportedly passed legal reviews before its release, so the vexation from longtime Pokémon fans may not hold up in court. However, Kotaku also reported that modders have already put actual Pokémon in Palworld.
Mizobe called Pokémon a “great predecessor” to Palworld in an interview with Automaton Media, but says his game feels completely different. The CEO says Palworld is actually much more similar to the action-adventure survival game Ark: Survival Evolved. In the creature-capturing genre, he says the comparisons to Pokémon are inevitable, and its successors are destined to be scrutinised by it.
“We make our games very seriously, and we have absolutely no intention of infringing upon the intellectual property of other companies,” said Mizobe in another interview with Automaton Media.
It seems for now, diehard Pokémon fans will just have to vent their frustration to the message boards.
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