The Pokémon Company Addresses Palworld Situation

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On 19th January 2024 a new game took the Steam platform by storm, Palworld. Described as an action-adventure survival game and created by Japanese developer Pocket Pair, it involves hunting for monsters. It didn’t take long for players to start drawing comparisons between Palworld and Pokémon.

At the time of writing Palworld has sold over 8 millions copies, which is a truly tremendous achievement, with many fans describing it as the Pokémon game they’ve always wanted, or simply, Pokémon, with guns.

Fans quickly noted however, that many of the monsters you catch in Palworld are incredibly familiar, in fact, there have been accusations of AI being used to scale Pokémon models in order to copy them. Steam policy states that game submissions must disclose how AI has been used to create the game, and currently Palworld does not state that it has used AI. The creators of Palworld have shared interest in AI on social media in recent years, but at present there has been no confirmation of whether or not AI has been used to create Palword. It should also be noted that when Palworld has shared information on social media about their monsters, they also mention specific artists who are credited with their designs.

Many social media users have been comparing the monster models to Pokémon, and there are some interesting posts about it.

In an unusual move, the Pokémon Company International have issued a statement that seems to reference these comparisons:

“We have received many inquiries regarding another company’s game released in January 2024,” The Pokemon Company wrote. “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.”

Nintendo has already started to take legal action towards some people who have created Pokémon themed mods for Palworld that directly replace the main character with Ash Ketchum, and the monsters with Pokémon. A modder known as Toasted Shoes shared his Pokémon Palworld mod, and it appears that less than 24 hours later is was taken down by an apparent Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown from Nintendo. Toasted Shoes spoke to IGN stating “We would love to complete the mod pack and release it for free to the public, however for now we are playing it by ear as we don’t want any legal troubles.”

The creators of Palworld insist that there is no copyright infringement, “We make our games very seriously, and we have absolutely no intention of infringing upon the intellectual property of other companies”. Nintendo has further stated that they are aware of Palworld, but will not comment on individual cases. Nintendo has also shared that they have not granted any licenses or assets to Palworld. Former Pokémon Company legal team leader Don McGowan told Game File “This looks like the usual rip off nonsense that I would see a thousand times a year when I was Chief Legal Officer of Pokémon.”

It seems that much of the debate on whether or not this is technically infringement will hinge on whether or not the Pokémon models have been used, rather than just aspects of design being used for inspiration. Either way Palworld seems to be taking Steam by storm, and it already one of the most popular games on the platform ever. Have you played Palworld? Let us know how you feel about it!

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Turtwig obsessive, real life Psyduck, Pokémon GO AR Photographer, found footage horror fan and Pokémon GO Hub AR Queen

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