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It may seem as if I have been writing about Palworld a lot. I know! However, with every new detail, I learn about Pocketpair and their monster-hunting, world-crafting survival game, the more blown away I become. How did this game that has been dubbed “Pokemon with guns” by an indie developer break through the niceties of an AAA-dominated industry to become the early rave of 2024?

Palworld roadmap

 

Since its launch on Friday, January 19, 2024, every new day brings an announcement of a new record that Palworld has set. If it is not an announcement that the game has sold another million copies, it would be the realization that it has reached a new concurrent player count on Steam.

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At the time of writing this post, Palworld had exceeded 2 million concurrent players. I used to doubt the possibility that it could topple PUBG: Battlegrounds to become the most concurrently played game ever on Steam. However, if the game could touch over 2 million concurrent players on a weekday, I can only imagine what would happen on a weekend—bearing in mind that the game has sold 8 million copies.

Pocketpair Shares Palworld Roadmap As Game Exceed 2 Million Concurrent Players. 3 Lessons I Learned

Like myself, the question that some players have been asking is what comes next after the burst of excitement quietens. Pocketpair has been listening and has now shared an Early Access Roadmap for the game. Just like I suspected, Pocketpair said that sales far exceeded their expectations.

“We would like to share with you our roadmap for Palworld,” Pocketpair announced today on X. “Sales have far exceeded the development team’s expectations, and we are currently experiencing many problems due to excessive access congestion, among other challenges.”

Pocketpair announced that it would prioritize fixing the bugs in the games as they arise before adding new in-game features. At the top of the studio’s priority of fixes to be made as soon as possible include key configuration improvements and improvements to base Pal AI and pathing.

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Pocketpair also outlined some of the futures it plans to bring to the game subsequently. They include features like Crossplay and server migrations which have been mostly requested by players.

  • PvP
  • Raid Bosses (End-Game Content)
  • Pal Arena (PvP for Pals)
  • Steam-Xbox Crossplay
  • Various Xbox Feature Improvements
  • Server Transfers and Migrations
  • Improvements to the Building System
  • New islands, Pals, Bosses, and Technologies.

What I find most fascinating about Pocketpair

“Pokémon Is So Good To Compare It To Palworld” Said Pocketpair CEO, Plans For PvP Mode

Pocketpair CEO Takuro Mizobe (Photo credit: Automaton)

Pocketpair was founded in April 2015 by Takuro Mizobe, who is also the current President and CEO of the company. Before settling for the game industry, he previously worked at JPMorgan Securities. After departing the investment management company, he launched a crypto exchange in 2014.

According to video games and esports specialist Mohammed Hamada, Mizobe used the money he earned from crypto to launch Pocketpair. Since it was founded, Pocketpair has launched 3 previous games before Palworld including AI: Art Imposter, Overdungeon, and Craftopia. However, none of them took off.

The first game Pocketpair released was Overdungeon, a “real-time card battle” that “combines rogue-like, tower defense, and card game”. The game was released in August 2019 and only attracted a few thousand players. Although the reviews were mostly positive, according to VGInsights, the game sold 100k units and earned the studio around $1 million.

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In September 2020, Pocketpair launched Craftopia, a “multiplayer survival action game made in Japan” that “combined many features we find enjoyable, such as hunting, farming, hack-and-slash, building, and automation”. The reviews were mostly positive to mixed. According to VGInsights, the game sold 583k units and earned the studio around $10.3 million.

Pocketpair went ahead to launch AI: Art Imposter in November 2022. It was described as “an AI drawing party game for 3-8 players”. The game was a bigger flop with less than four hundred reviews.

The story changed for Pocketpair when it launched Palworld on January 19, 2024. So far, the game’s over 71,000 reviews have been very positive on Steam. The game has surpassed 2 million concurrent players on Steam and has sold over 7 million copies. There are just so many lessons to learn from Pocketpair’s journey.

3 Lessons I Learned from Pocketpair

Pokémon Company’s Former Legal Boss Called Palworld “Ripoff Nonsense” As Game Become Most Played Title This Week, Sells 6 Million Copies

Mizobe revealed that only about 4 developers started working on Palworld. In fact, it was reported that one of the developers was a 20-year-old without any industry experience. Hamada claimed that the team met the young developer where he worked part-time at a convenience store that they frequented. Beyond the controversy that has trailed the game since its release, here are some positive lessons I learned from Palworld’s success.

#1. Massive hit games can come from anywhere

We have become so used to seeing only AAA studios sell millions of copies that it has become almost as if you can’t hit those figures unless you are making big-budget AAA games. With a budget of $6.75 million, Palworld’s success has struck out that opinion. The game has penetrated the previously thought impenetrable walls of AAA games’ success.

As Sam Barberie, the head of strategy and partnerships at Horizon pointed out, “A focus on gameplay always wins”. Pocketpair ditched the niceties of polished characters that have become the norm for AAA games and focused on making a game that was fun to play.

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The millions of players that are now enjoying Palworld clearly don’t care if the characters were crafted from scanned real-life models or if the world was reminiscent of a place they could relate to. They simply enjoy the gameplay—and that is all that matters.

#2. It is OK to experiment—especially with new technologies

Palworld Hit 1.86 Million Concurrent Players To Become The 2nd Highest Charting Game Ever On Steam

The pushback on AI has been severe, especially by those who believe it would take the roles of developers. However, Palworld would never have been possible without AI. There are rumors that the characters were created with AI tools—but that is not my focus.

Developers, especially indie studios can use AI tools to get ahead in game development. Without any form of AI support, a game like Palworld would have required a team of hundreds of developers and a larger budget.

However, from what I learned from a recent interview with Mizobe, the entire team that worked on Palworld was around 50. Without AI assistance, it would have taken them years to get to where the game is today. Instead of hating on new technologies, we should be exploring how we can use them to get ahead.

#3. If you don’t get it the first time, learn and try again

In his recent interview, Mizobe mentioned that the lessons learned from all the other games released by the studio were plowed back into the making of Palworld. Some will try the first time and hit their goal while others may need several tries to reach theirs. In the end, doggedness and never giving up always wins.

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Many indie developers don’t go beyond one or two games before throwing in the towel. While it can be frustrating to plow money into a business without getting anything in return, the best approach is to hire just the right number of staff you need to get started and scale as the need arises.

Pocketpair Shares Palworld Roadmap As Game Exceed 2 Million Concurrent Players. 3 Lessons I Learned

Just before I pushed the publish button after writing this post, I discovered that Palworld had sold another million copies. Total sales now stand at 8 million copies in 6 days. Also, Pocketpair has launched a 10% off Launch Sales promo on Steam. Hopefully, this would also supercharge sales and push them to the 10 million copies sales mark. The promo ends on Friday, January 26, 2024.


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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