Palworld, lovingly dubbed by the community as ‘Pokemon with guns’, has been a tremendously successful venture for Japanese studio Pocketpair. The survival game, which takes liberal influences from Nintendo games like Zelda and Pokemon, has sold more than 3 million copies worldwide and achieved a peak concurrency of over 900k players on Steam (via Insider Gaming), making it the top ten all-time most-played game on the platform.
BEST GAMES ON
However, the game has quickly embroiled itself in controversy over claims of plagiarism and its use of AI to create content for the game, especially for its Pokemon-inspired characters called ‘Pals’.
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Some users on the social platform X have pointed out the obvious similarities between Pokemon and Pals, with one user claiming that developers seem to have used an AI tool called Fusor to concoct creatures based on Game Freak’s popular series.
If true, this won’t be Pocketpair’s first thrust with using AI. As X user Zaytri pointed out, the developers previously worked on a game called AI: Art Imposter, a game which used an AI image generator as its core mechanic. The user also highlighted Pocketpair’s CEO, Takuro Mizobe, who seems to be praising and exploring the potential of AI for game content creation.
The use of AI-generated content has been a pain point for many creative industries, including films and video games, with artists, developers and users criticising its role and merit. Many perceive AI as a tool to replace actual artists and use their work without permission, giving developers a way to create content for cheap and generally of low or passable quality without repercussions.
However, whether or not Palworld has used AI is still unknown, and the developers have offered no clarification as of yet. It will also be quite interesting to see how Nintendo reacts to this news since if proven true, it would be a direct infringement of their IPs. And considering how trigger-happy Nintendo is in shutting down anything and everything related to their IPs and games – even non-profit fan-made projects – one would assume they are probably gearing up for a massive lawsuit.
Palworld is now available to play on PC, Xbox Series X/S, and GamePass.
Mufaddal Fakhruddin has been writing about games and technology for the past 15 years. He has lost count as to how many reviews he has written over the years, but he is sure headphone reviews make up at least 70% of that.