Since its early access launch on PC and Xbox last Friday, Palworld has achieved remarkable success, boasting over 8 million sales within a mere five days.
Nevertheless, the game’s popularity has stirred controversy, particularly regarding perceived similarities between its character designs and those found in the Pokémon franchise, leading to accusations of plagiarism.
In response to the growing debate, The Pokémon Company issued a statement on Thursday, confirming an investigation into potential infringement of its intellectual property (IP) rights by Palworld.
The statement emphasized that no permission had been granted for the use of Pokémon IP or assets in the game released in January 2024. The company pledged to thoroughly investigate and take appropriate measures to address any acts infringing on Pokémon-related intellectual property rights.
Despite significant differences in actual gameplay, the ongoing discussion on social media revolves around the apparent influence Palworld’s character designs have drawn from Pokémon, sparking a broader conversation on whether such resemblances could be interpreted as instances of plagiarism.
The accusations surrounding Palworld took a new twist on Sunday when an anonymous X account posted comparisons between some of the game’s 3D models and those of Pokémon, asserting that their proportions were nearly identical.
Two experienced AAA game artists consulted by VGC suggested that these model comparisons provided strong evidence that Palworld’s character models might be based on Pokémon assets.
One senior character artist stated anonymously that achieving the same proportions on multiple models from another game without ripping or meticulously tracing them is highly unlikely, expressing a willingness to testify as an expert on the matter.
According to David Hansel, an intellectual property and digital media lawyer at Hansel Henson, if it could be proven that assets were taken from Pokémon games, it would serve as a “smoking gun” in any potential legal case brought forward by The Pokémon Company.
In response to the accusations, Palworld’s director and CEO of developer Pocketpair, Takuro Mizobe, addressed the issue in an interview with Japanese site Automation.
Mizobe claimed that Palworld had undergone legal reviews and emphasized that no action had been taken against the game by other companies.
He asserted the team’s commitment to creating games without infringing on the intellectual property of other companies, emphasizing their serious approach to game development.