Palworld continues to be the surprise hit of 2024 with its latest announcement of seven million copies sold in five days.
Previously, developer Pocketpair announced that the title — an open world survival online game described by fans as “Pokémon with guns” — had sold more than five million copies in three days.
The game launched on January 19, and it rose to the top of Steam’s best-selling games list. It has moved to No. 2 on the all-time concurrent players leaderboard on Steam, behind only PUBG. The game is also available on the Windows PC via Game Pass and Xbox.
It’s an open world survival crafting game for up to 32 players and has more than 100 types of pals. You capture, train, battle or put your creatures to work. The game had some outages over the weekend due to the demand, and Pocketpair met with Epic Games to resolve issues.
Pocketpair worked on the game for more than three years, and it turns out that it has a pretty deep survival game. You start out punching cute ball-shaped chickens with your bare hands and eventually graduate to much better weapons.
Based on sales data from Steam, about 36% of the players are from China, while 21% are from the U.S. Only 2.5% of the players are from Japan, the home of Pokémon. Simon Carless of GameDiscoverCo noted that Steam data also shows a high correlation between Palworld players and those who have played Monster Hunter: World, Elden Ring and Risk of Rain 2.
Pocketpair said the early-access roadmap includes updates with features such as player-versus-player, raid bosses (with end-game content), Pal Arena (PvP for Pals), Xbox-Steam crossplay, Xbox feature improvements, server transfers and migrations, improvements to the building system and new islands, bosses, Pals and tech.
The company also said it has identified numerous bugs and is working on those.
Since it resembles Pokémon so closely, many are wondering whether Nintendo or the Pokémon Company will sue. In fact, it took modders about three days to come up with a mod that includes Pokémon characters.
We asked a legal expert, Don McGowan, former general counsel at The PokémonCompany, about whether a lawsuit would happen.
“I don’t know enough about it to give a good answer unfortunately. It sure looks like the art infringes, but I haven’t spent a ton of time. The quote I gave Steven Totilo (of Axios) is accurate: it sure looks like the nonsense ripoffs I used to see a thousand times a year. But does it actually infringe? That’s not a question of gameplay etc. It’s a look and feel question. I’m hedging because maybe the screenshots going around are picked to look particularly one way or another.”
Takuo Mizobe is the CEO of Pocketpair and he posted a long blog post when the game released. In an early interview, he said he was an intern at Nintendo after graduating, but he wound up at JP Morgan. He switched to work at a digital currency trading platform in Japan, but in 2015 he couldn’t suppress his loves for game anymore and founded Pocketpair.
He started out on a mobile social game at first but it was not released.
Work started on a second game, Overdungeon, in 2017. It was inspired by Clash Royale and Slay the Spire. The idea was stitching together different types of gameplay to create a different experience. The team got the game done with just a few employees. It launched in 2019 and sold 100,000 copies on Steam. That was enough to keep the company going.
The team went on to work on Craftopia, which is like other sandbox games like Terraria. The name comes from the card game Bridge.
Pocket Pair describes Palworld as a multiplayer, open world survival, monster breeding, crafting game where you can collect the mysterious creatures called “Pal.”
In your adventures, you can have your Pal join alongside you in fights. You can build various structures, breed a stronger Pal bloodline, ride Pals as mounts, make them work in factories, sacrifice their lives for your safety, capture with lassos or Pal Spheres, put them into the Pal Box prisons, and force Pals to fight against each other in the Arena.
The world is full of dangers such as food shortages, harsh weather, and illegal poachers. Pocket Pair further described the game as being “about living a slow easy-going happy life with mysterious creatures called Pal’ or throwing yourself into life-and-death battles with the villainous poachers.”
Mizobe said he has been patching and improving the games every day and he realizes games are a high-risk, high-reward business. The game was made with dozens of developers.
Regarding ripoffs, Mizobe wrote, “Palworld is definitely a new and innovative game. There’s no other game like it. At this point, many people may think that Palworld is just a rip-off game, but in reality, it has a novelty that is … different from BOTW (Breath of the Wild) and Genshin (Impact).”
If anything, he noted the survival crafting part of the game bears more resemblance to ARK: Survival Evolved and that Plaworld has unique base building taking from real-time strategy and automation genres.
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