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Palworld; guilty of labor theft?

In the modern age of game development there are very few real treats that bubble up from the mass-produced grey-goo that is corporate game production. When Palworld was announced in 2021 by Pocketpair, the developers behind Craftopia, many people laughed and jokingly added the game to their wish-lists. Discredited as "Pokemon with guns" at the time nobody took it seriously or paid it any mind until its release on January 18, 2024. Since, Palworld has skyrocketed in attention and captured imagination of fans and enemies alike.

Selling 8,000,000 copies in only 6 days the game outpaced its source of inspiration, Pokemon, which has lead to the disgruntled opinions of hardcore fans of the Nintendo title.​​ As the game continues​​ tо garner accolades and acclaim,​​ it suffers from the same fate that every suddenly popular title suffers - the bitter opinions of people who failed to meet the same success. With zealous believers of groups such as PETA, resentful developers of AAA Corporate experiences, and hardcore fans of falling giants at the gates, Palworld has faced a siege of allegations of malpractice such as using AI Generative artwork, plagiarizing models, and labor theft, all of these allegations suffering from a severe lack of concrete evidence.

On Twitter, now called X, member @byofrog accused Palworld of ripping models from Pokemon Violet and Scarlet.

However, it quickly came to light that @byofrog's accusations were false and that they had modified models they ripped from both games to match, scaling the models as needed to better prove their case.

Twitter user @ttvPalmer called @byofrog out for their modification to which @byofrog admits they scaled the models to better match each other. When questioned further it was revealed that the accusations, which Pocketpair could sue over if it lead to damages as slander, @byofrog revealed their decision was politically motivated.

@byofrog removed their posts, admitting to the scaling of the models, but strangely did not remove their original false allegations. Why they did not air their actual grievance with Palworld and, instead, fabricated a legally precarious accusation we may never know.

False allegations with fabricated evidence aside we also have Naughty Dog Senior Artist Del Walker claiming the game was "made nefariously" and that, with the games unanticipated levels of success, that Pocketpair is "cheating somehow."

If anyone would know how to cheat at game development and how to make games in a nefarious manner, it would be an employee of a Corporate AAA studio. However Walker could not present any evidence at all and it is believed that his grievance is over the failure of Naughty Dog title The Last of Us 2 which could not sell more than 50% of the copies The Last of Us sold. Being called out on this, Del Walker removed his posts and went radio silent after apologizing.

But with all the hatred of Indie studio Pocketpair's success, why are they so successful? What is it that Pocketpair delivered after 4 years of development that multi-million dollar companies like Nintendo failed to deliver?

At its core, Palworld​ іs​​ plays a lot like your standard survival game. You wake up on a beach, punch a tree, and build a base while you try to best utilize the resources you can collect. On top of this gameplay loop Pocketpair has also expertly attached the elements of a Monster Catcher game similar to Digimon, Monster Rancher, and Pokemon. These two loops of survival and catching exotic fantasy creatures aren't isolated either, like most newer developers may foolishly do, instead the creatures you catch, Pals, work to provide you new resources, they build for you, craft for you, gather for you, and fight along side you.

Pokemon has been a major monster catcher title in the world for 28 years. Nearly 3 decades of popularity hasn't helped the major title, however, as the game has seen very few innovations in its formula in those decades. This has lead to many long-time fans growing bored of the title, walking away from what was a major part of their childhoods as the games begin to bore them.

Palworld has brought back the sense of wonder, exploration, and camaraderie that long-time fans of Pokemon lost while the giant rested on its laurels. Palworld's immense open world of the Palpagos Archipelago and its charming designs based heavily off Pokemon's timeless art style has left players feeling all the joy and wonder of their first travel across Kanto, Johto, and Hoenn regions of the Pokemon World.

The Pokemon Company has also noticed the resurgence of these long-lost emotions and, in response, has vowed to investigate Pocketpair for any evidence of plagiarism or copyright infringement only now that Palworld has proven to be a successful game 2 years after its announcement trailer. Nintendo has also been ramping up its postings of new Pokemon content in a bid to stay relevant in discussions.

While Nintendo and the Pokemon Company plot to shut down their new competitor through the legal route, Pocketpair has been working diligently to provide a good gaming experience to their new playerbase. even releasing a roadmap planning for the future, adding content such as PvP, PvP Pal battles, end game raids, and more.

Palworld stands​ as​​ a testament​​ that the passion of indie developers is what is needed ever so dearly in the gaming industry. With its captivating gameplay, charming aesthetics, engaging community,​​ іt has recaptured the community and promises to put major projects like Pokemon into a zone of discomfort that should benefit the IP greatly, provided their corporate owners don't just use legal warfare to beat the game into the dust so they don't HAVE to compete with Pocketpair's hit title.​ As​​ we eagerly await what the future holds for Palworld and its creators, one thing​​ іs certain: the journey​​ іs far from over, and the adventure has only just begun.

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