Homestead High School's student newspaper

The Epitaph

Homestead High School's student newspaper

The Epitaph

Homestead High School's student newspaper

The Epitaph

‘Palworld’ poses as an innovative impostor

Game uses ‘Pokémon’ as inspiration

As an amateur game developer and gaming enthusiast, I understand the joy of creating and playing a brilliant game. When an impeccable story is paired with amazing gameplay, sprinkled with powerful graphics and adorned with subtle details, this entertainment media manifests as something greater — something to be remembered for the ages.

A touch-up, although creative, is not an excuse to violate plagiarism policies and ethics. (Illustration by Parth Dhaulakhandi)

Among many others, one game franchise that fits this description perfectly is “Pokémon.” The franchise has grown beyond the scope of most, even becoming the world’s most lucrative franchise in 2021, according to Gitnux.

However, when your rights, both granted and expected, are breached in a field like this, it can often leave developers and communities resentful. Specifically for “Pokémon,” a cry of outrage erupted from individuals such as myself when we learned of “Palworld,” a game that seemed too close to “Pokémon” for comfort. With their characters bearing significant resemblance to those of “Pokémon,” along with a similar open-world style gameplay, the game almost seems like a remake of the popular franchise.

The game has garnered much attention, especially during its initial release. In fact, “Palworld” accumulated about 5 million downloads within three days of its release, back when the game was only available for PCs on Steam, according to Statista

The immense public attention the game got was initially good for the game, but eventually led to speculation around copyright infringement. The game was even called out for its similar characters posed to those of “Pokémon” by video game and entertainment news website Dextero via a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

This reaction from users and influencing sources raised the question of whether “Palworld” was a breach of copyright and creative works protection. The game gained much popularity after being advertised as “Pokémon” with guns, and the reason was clear: almost every other facet of its gameplay was a direct copy of the original franchise. 

Even The Pokémon Company has called out “Palworld,” although not directly. The company mentions a game whose description “Palworld” fits, stating that it never gave them any exclusive copyright access, according to a statement issued by The Pokémon Company.

Still, there are benefits to having companies like Pocketpair, the “Palworld” developer, within the industry. Although it may seem like they are making major sales over thievery, it is more important to analyze why the game is so popular in the first place. 

“Pokémon” games themselves have not been particularly innovative lately. It may just be that the franchise has run dry of original ideas, but a lack of changes to the basic structure of Pokémon battles and other fundamentals reduces the games’ quality. “Palworld” helps bring “Pokémon” out of the boring cycle its games have fallen into by introducing new mechanics, such as survival and guns, to an already successful idea.

However, it would be ethical for “Palworld” to make their designs and physical aspects more unique. The game has latched onto a trend to propel it further, but until they truly make it their own, there will always be a disconnect between the game and the “Pokémon” fanbase.

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About the Contributor
Parth Dhaulakhandi
Parth Dhaulakhandi, Arts & Culture Editor
Parth is a sophomore, and he is currently one of the Arts & Culture editors. He looks forward to teaching the new reporters about The Epitaph and getting to work with them. In his free time, Parth likes to write, watch Ninjago, do math, code and play piano. He also enjoys viewing science videos by content creators such as Veritasium, Kurzgesagt, Action Lab, PBS Space Time and Crash Course.

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