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The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

OPINION: Palworld is shaking up video games

Here’s why
Lynn Jafarzadeh / Hilltop Views
Palworld is an open world multiplayer survival game with a powerful crafting system and 137 pals for you to find, fight and capture.

Is it fun? Yes. Is it inventive? Not really. Are people talking about it? Oh yeah. Let’s get into it.

If you’ve had even a brush with the gaming sphere recently, it is likely you have heard of Palworld. It sold over seven million copies within the first five days of its release and has become one of the most played games in the PC platform Steam’s history.

Colloquially known to internet dwellers as ‘pokémon with guns,’ Palworld is an open world multiplayer survival game with a powerful crafting system and 137 pals for you to find, fight and capture. With this in mind, it is easy to see why such a game has become so popular seemingly overnight. Palworld swept digital stores and pushed AAA titles, such as Activision’s Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare III, to the side on release. But why is Palworld so popular?

In my opinion, the success is because Palworld is just fun. Not novel, not super pretty looking … just a fun game for a one time cost. That’s it.

I’ll be the first to say Palworld is not very original in its design. Ark: Survival Evolved popularized the idea of an open world monster taming game with multiplayer capabilities. Minecraft was a foundational game for open world exploration, crafting and building. Pokémon popularized the monster catching concept and the cartoon art style Palworld uses. All Palworld has done is take these aspects and mesh them together into one game. In the case of Palworld, there was a market for this kind of game, and it sold well. Very well.

And the numbers are what’s going to make big scale developers think.

Palworld was made on a budget of around $7 million and has since made Pocket Pair, Palworld’s developer, a profit estimated to surpass at least $100 million. In the video game industry, that sort of return is almost unheard of. I hope other developers will take a second look at their target audience, figure out what they’re wanting and deliver something great. Nothing super flashy or making me buy a battle pass — just some purely fun games.

With this sort of success, surely Pocket Pair is of equivalent size to the game industry’s heavy hitters, right?

According to an interview with Gamingbolt, the project started with only four developers. 

Over time the game’s team grew into the dozens, and, despite the team’s size in comparison to AAA studios, Palworld has reached a great level of economic success. To the video game industry, this shows that smaller companies are still capable of standing a chance even in an age of AAA dominion over the market. Palworld is an example of a relatively small-scale team finding massive success — a story that only occurs once every few years. 

But developers have to be careful, and Pocket Pair might have flown too close to the sun.

Accusations were made online of the Pocket Pair utilizing AI and stealing assets from The Pokémon Company’s “Pokémon” games. Palworld does sport a similar art style to Pokémon games, and their pals are rather familiar, some of which are not only similar in appearance but in design as well. 

As of the writing of this article, these allegations are yet to be supported by evidence from official sources. Recently, The Pokémon Company made a statement regarding a “game,” which was unspecified in their statement.

“We have received many inquiries regarding another company’s game released in January 2024,” the statement reads. “We intend to investigate and take appropriate measures to address any acts that infringe on intellectual property rights related to the Pokémon.”

Due to the month of release, I believe this “game” is Palworld. If The Pokémon Company is investigating Palworld, this could be paving the road for legal troubles in the future.

So, is Palworld going to kill Pokémon and take its place? Is it the next big monster game franchise? No, I doubt it. But it might just influence how big developers think for a minute, and if that’s a good or bad thing, we’ll have to wait and see.

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About the Contributor
Alec Campa
Alec Campa, Staff Writer
Alec is a senior at St. Edward’s University majoring in Video Game Development. This is his first bout as a Staff Writer and was previously an intern for Hilltop Views in the fall of 2023. When Alec’s not developing games, he enjoys writing fantasy and science fiction novels.

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