Palworld has finally caught the attention of The Pokemon Company

Palworld Pals
(Image credit: Pocket Pair)

It's Pokemon, with guns! Monster collection slash survival game Palworld has been a rocketing success, selling over 7 million copies in its first five days on Steam alone. That's the kind of success that draws attention, especially if your game apes on the style of a massively popular franchise.

However, not all attention is good attention, and if there's one company you absolutely don't want to have looking your way with the ringing of potential intellectual property infringement in its ears, it's Nintendo, or by proxy The Pokemon Company.

Sadly, that appears to be the case for Palworld developers Pocketpair as the Pokemon coalition released an official statement addressing (without directly addressing) concerns about a recent Pokemon mod for the title and claims that the Pals of Palworld bear a striking resemblance to existing Pokemon characters.

"We have received many inquiries regarding another company’s game released in January 2024. 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."

- The Pokémon Company

While some saw The Pokemon Company's refusal to cite Palworld's developer by name as a petty dismissal and a confirmation of its ire, it may have been because Pocketpair isn't the one that the Pokemon brand has in its sights.

Pokemon is one of the world's most profitable media franchises to date, and its child-friendly virtues are one of the reasons the game is able to spread its popularity across so many generations of gamer. As such, having your lovable pocket monsters appear in a video game where they don assault rifles could be seen as highly damaging to the brand's image.

And, when it comes to protecting ones brand, nobody does it quite like the Japanese. Nintendo are notorious for flagging content online, causing sites like Nexus Mods to say it won't be hosting any of the Pokemon mods currently available for Palworld in case they incur the company's legal wrath.

Judging by The Pokemon Company's specific wording, it's entirely fair to assume that Palworld isn't the one being called out here, but the game's modding community. After all, in a recent interview with Automation, Pocketpair's CEO Takuro Mizobe did state that Palworld had cleared legal reviewing and was not the target of any legal action for infringement.

Given that both Pocketpair and The Pokemon Company are both Japanese companies, and keeping in mind Japan's lack of "fair use" laws, if there was even the slightest case that Pocketpair's monster collection game had infringed on the Pokemon brand, you can bet that Palworld would have been terminated before it ever made it to early access.

As such, it's more than likely that Pocketpair's Palworld will live on without threat, for now at least.

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Rael Hornby
Content Editor

Rael Hornby, potentially influenced by far too many LucasArts titles at an early age, once thought he’d grow up to be a mighty pirate. However, after several interventions with close friends and family members, you’re now much more likely to see his name attached to the bylines of tech articles. While not maintaining a double life as an aspiring writer by day and indie game dev by night, you’ll find him sat in a corner somewhere muttering to himself about microtransactions or hunting down promising indie games on Twitter.