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The Early Access version of Palworld was launched by Pocketpair on Friday, January 19, 2024, and it became an instant hit. The developer claimed the game attracted over 2 million players in the first 24 hours. Also, Palworld’s concurrent players surpassed 1.1 million. However, the game is now embroiled in a controversy that could crush its early success.

Palworld Sold 4 Million Copies In 3 Days But Drowned In AI And Plagiarism Controversy

The success that Palworld has achieved within a short time is massive. At the time of writing this post, its concurrent player count stood at 1,291,967 which places it ahead of blockbusters like Cyberpunk 2077, Elden Ring, Call of Duty, Apex Legends, and Baldur’s Gate 3. In forty hours, Pocketpair announced that the game had sold over 3 million copies, and in three days it had sold 4 million copies.

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“#Palworld has sold over 3 million copies in 40 hours since release!” Pocketpair announced on X. “Thank you everyone for playing Palworld! We are so overwhelmed but also encouraged by this incredible accomplishment! Please leave a review if you’ve been enjoying your time in Palworld!”

Since its release, Palworld has risen sharply to shatter all statistics including becoming “the most concurrently played Japanese game ever on Steam”. The developers arguably didn’t prepare for that level of success evident in the reported server issues. At some point, there was a connectivity error issue when hosting co-op games on PC and Xbox.

Palworld Sold 4 Million Copies In 3 Days But Drowned In AI And Plagiarism Controversy

“Regarding the connectivity issue when trying to host co-op: The number of players exceeded 700,000 concurrent players, and a problem occurred in the Epic Games backend. We had an emergency meeting with the Epic Games team and had them add an update to the Epic Games backend at short notice. We have confirmed that this has resolved the connectivity errors and issues when hosting co-op games on Xbox and PC. You should notice an improvement in connectivity and the errors should start to disappear shortly.”

However, Pocketpair later issued a clarification that “We accidentally said [Epic Games Backend] instead of [Epic Online Services]” and apologized for the misunderstanding.

Players have started collating Palworld’s perceived plagiarized content

Palworld Sold 4 Million Copies In 3 Days But Drowned In AI And Plagiarism Controversy

Pocketpair described Palworld as a “monster-catching, survival and crafting game”. However, the developer noted that the game borrows mechanics from other genres to create an entirely new experience. With feedback gathered from the Early Access release, the developer plans to make improvements to the game for at least 12 months.

“During early access, we will update the game based on the roadmap, actively adding content and improving the game systems. Depending on the progress of development, we may consider extending early access or if we are satisfied with the state of the game, officially releasing the game.”

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Palworld is an open-world survival crafting game for up to 32 players. Like Pokémon, players can capture and train Pals (monsters) which they can use for traversal, base building, and combat. However, unlike Pokémon, the player is equipped with guns which have earned the game the moniker “Pokémon with guns”.

Palworld Sold 4 Million Copies In 3 Days But Drowned In AI And Plagiarism Controversy

Another way Palworld differs from Pokémon is that players can eat their companions. Notwithstanding the glaring differences, some players have started poking holes in how Palworld is a replica of Nintendo’s Pokémon series.

Fans of Pokémon are particularly furious about the design similarities between the monsters in Palworld and their beloved Pokémon series. IGN compiled a list of furious X users who cited the plagiarized character designs as the resign why they are unable to like Palworld. While the similarities in some of the comparisons were glaring, others were simply laughable.

Poketpair has distanced Palworld from the comparison. To further create the distinction, Pocketpair promotes the survival element of Palworld that plays a lot like Ark: Survival Evolved.

Palworld Sold 4 Million Copies In 3 Days But Drowned In AI And Plagiarism Controversy

Palworld’s controversy is further worsened by Pocketpair’s historical affinity to generative AI tools. Artist Zaytri shared screenshots highlighting how Pocketpair’s CEO claimed that AI could be used to bypass copyright. However, the artists warned that the post was not a confirmation that AI was used in Palworld.

In fact, Pocketpair has a game released in 2022 which was called AI Art Imposter. The existence of such a game and how fast the studio could pump out 100 monster designs within a short time further add credibility to the allegations. However, Pocketpair said they spent 3 years making Palworld.

Pocketpair continues to work hard to fix emerging issues

Pocketpair has continued to work hard to fix emerging issues since the launch of Palworld. The majority of the reported issues have been related to servers. For example, while the Steam version of the game has dedicated servers that can accommodate up to 32 players, Xbox servers are limited to 2 to 4 players.

Palworld Sold 4 Million Copies In 3 Days But Drowned In AI And Plagiarism Controversy

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Although Pocketpair said they would love to have dedicated Xbox servers, they said it was not their call. On Discord, a representative from Pocketpair wrote;

“We’d like to have dedicated servers on Xbox but it’s unfortunately not up to us and is quite difficult to negotiate at this time. But… we are trying!”

Some players have encountered server outrages and other serious challenges. However, Pocketpair continues to work around the clock to improve player experience. So far, the controversies have not been enough to affect the concurrent player count which has continued to rise. However, it will be interesting to see how long it would hold that reign.

Anthony Emecheta

Anthony Emecheta has over a decade experience as a freelance writer. Gaming has always been a childhood hobby and he is excited to be collaborating with a gaming company as a content creator. It is like having all the things he loves in one place.


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