Palworld dev receives death threats over Pokémon plagiarism allegations

Palworld comparison tweet
It’s hard to believe that’s a coincidence (Picture: Twitter)

The developer behind breakout hit Palworld has responded to allegations of plagiarism, as the CEO denies they used AI to copy Pokémon.

Following its launch in early access across PC and Xbox on Friday, Palworld has become an unexpected juggernaut on Steam.

The open world survival game, often referred to as ‘Pokémon with guns’, has sold over five million copies within three days. On Monday, it was confirmed to have hit a peak concurrent Steam player count of 1.582million, the platform’s third-highest ever, behind Counter-Strike 2 and PUBG: Battlegrounds.

The game’s success, however, has been burdened with controversy. While the gameplay is different to the Pokémon series, with a stronger emphasis on survival elements, many have highlighted the similarities in the creature designs, which has led to accusations of plagiarism.

Developer Pocketpair’s past history with artificial intelligence has made people especially suspicious, given the studio previously used AI image generation as a core drawing mechanic in earlier game AI: Art Impostor. There is no proof yet, however, that the developer used AI tools in Palworld’s creation.

Palworld’s director and Pocketpair CEO, Takuro Mizobe has now released a statement in response to the allegations, where he highlighted how the developer’s team of artists have been subject to abuse.

In a post on Twitter, as translated by VGC, Mizobe wrote: ‘We are currently receiving abusive and defamatory comments against our artists, in addition to tweets that appear to be death threats.

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‘While we have received various opinions about Palworld, it is important to note that the supervision of all materials related to Palworld is conducted by a team, including myself. I bear the responsibility for the produced materials. I would appreciate it if these comments towards artists involved in Palworld would cease.’

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While the statement doesn’t address whether the assets used were iterations on Pokémon designs, it’s depressing how quickly (and often) some of the gaming audience escalate to death threats over largely trivial matters.

Mizobe previously addressed the issue of plagiarism prior to Palworld’s launch, where he claimed the title cleared legal reviews and no companies wanted to take action.

‘We make our games very seriously, and we have absolutely no intention of infringing upon the intellectual property of other companies,’ Mizobe told Automaton.

The comparisons with Pokémon won’t go away anytime soon though, with one fan having already created a Palworld mod featuring Pikachu and Ash Ketchum. Palworld itself might escape Nintendo’s lawyers but the mod certainly won’t.

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