Pokémon Company addresses Palworld's plagiarism, vows 'appropriate measures' against infringement

Palworld sold over eight million copies in less than six days and continues to be a sensation
An image of the Palworld game. — Steam
An image of the Palworld game. — Steam

Palworld, the action-adventure survival game, which gained rapid popularity but faced scrutiny over the alleged resemblance of its in-game creatures to Pokémon, may be on the edge of legal challenges.

The Pokémon Company, responsible for managing the renowned Pokémon franchise, has officially addressed the accusations of plagiarism against Palworld without clearly mentioning the game. 

Palworld, launched in early access on January 19, rapidly climbed the Steam charts and sold over eight million copies, as confirmed by developers Pocketpair on Thursday.

In the statement, Pokémon's parent company expressed intentions to investigate any sort of copyright infringement committed in the Palworld. “We have received many inquiries regarding another company's game released in January 2024,” Gadgets360 quoted the statement as stating.

Although not naming Palworld, added, “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.”

Read more: Palworld jolts gaming world, sells over 5m copies in three days

The Pokémon franchise, considered the world's most lucrative media franchise with estimated revenues of $88 billion, has its intellectual property rights collectively owned by Nintendo, Game Freak, and Creatures. Nintendo is known for its assertive approach to protecting its franchises through legal means. 

There are indications that Nintendo may have already taken action against Palworld PC mods that transform in-game creatures into Pokémon, with one modder saying “Nintendo has come for me” after his gameplay video was taken down on X (formerly known as Twitter) earlier this week.

The debate on the boundaries of inspiration and plagiarism in gaming has intensified, with some defending Palworld, emphasising its original ideas and a blend of elements from popular games like Ark: Survival Evolved, Fortnite, Rust, and Pokémon.

Despite the controversy, Pocketpair announced on Thursday that Palworld had sold over eight million copies in less than six days and continues to be a sensation, currently ranking as the most-played game on Steam.

The game features Pokémon-style creatures known as Pals, which players can capture and tame for combat, traversal and base building in the open-world game, earning it the nickname "Pokémon with Guns."