However, the survival game’s success ignited discourse around perceived similarities between its character designs and those of the Pokémon games, with many accusing it of plagiarism.
On Thursday, The Pokemon company released a statement confirming it was investigating if the game infringed on its IP rights.
“We have received many inquiries regarding another company’s game released in January 2024,” it said.
“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.”
Although the actual gameplay of Palworld is vastly different from Nintendo’s series, debate has raged on social media around the obvious influence its character designs have taken from Pokémon, and whether it could be interpreted as plagiarism.
The accusations took another turn on Sunday, when an anonymous X account posted comparisons of some of the game’s 3D models and those of Pokémon, claiming their proportions were nearly identical.
According to two experienced AAA game artists who spoke to VGC, the model comparisons on X were likely evidence that Palworld’s character models were indeed based on Pokémon assets.
“You cannot, in any way, accidentally get the same proportions on multiple models from another game without ripping the models. Or at the very least, tracing them meticulously first,” one senior character artist told VGC anonymously, adding: “I would stand in court to testify as an expert on this.”
David Hansel, an intellectual property and digital media lawyer at Hansel Henson, told VGC that if it could be proven that assets were taken from Pokémon games, then it would represent “a smoking gun” for any legal case brought forward by The Pokémon Company.
Earlier this week, Palworld’s director (and CEO of developer Pocketpair) Takuro Mizobe responded to the accusations against the game.
Speaking to Japanese site Automation, he claimed that Palworld had cleared legal reviews, and that there has been no action taken against it by other companies.
“We make our games very seriously, and we have absolutely no intention of infringing upon the intellectual property of other companies,” he said.