Palworld | ‘Pokémon with guns’ survival game sells 4m copies amid plagiarism claims

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Survival videogame Palworld has broken records and sold 4m copies in a matter of days, even as players have noticed its debt to Pokémon.

Released on the 19th January, survival videogame Palworld finally answered that age-old question: what would happen if Pokémon had guns in it?

Players all over the world have clearly reacted strongly to that concept, with Palworld selling millions of copies in the brief period since its release. At the time of writing, sales have passed the 4m copies mark, while it’s also breaking records on Steam, with 1.2m people playing the game concurrently over its debut weekend. To put that in perspective, that’s beaten the peak concurrent player numbers of much higher-profile games like Baldur’s Gate 3 and Elden Ring.

The game hasn’t been without its controversies, though. Accusations that its creature designs look a little too close to those jealously guarded by The Pokémon Company began to percolate when Palworld was unveiled in June 2023, and have only grown since its release. Indeed, suspicions that the game might be some sort of low-quality, off-the-peg-asset using cash-grab have been so persistent that Japanese developer Pocketpair opted to address them in its FAQ on Steam.

“It is not a scam and will definitely be released on January 19th,” the studio wrote. “PalWorld is a typical Steam game, you buy it once and it is yours forever. While we may consider expansions after the full release, that is a conversation we will all have together, as a community, when the time comes!”

Palworld has also been subject to a few teething problems at launch, including a bug that, as reported by Eurogamer, “is impossible to recover from,” according to the game’s developer. Palworld's unexpectedly huge success has also prompted Pocketpair to arrange an “emergency meeting” with Epic Online Services to provide additional server capacity.

Clearly, Palworld has hit a nerve with players, and filled a gap in the market that The Pokémon Company failed to spot. To date, the rights owners of Pikachu, Lapras and the like haven’t commented on the glaring similarities between Palworld’s critters and its own pocket monsters.

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