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Was Palworld actually made with AI? Here’s what we know

did palworld use ai

Palworld developer Pocketpair is being accused of using generative AI to create the collectible “Pal” monsters in its games, in addition to directly copying characters from Pokemon and other media franchises.

Palworld has taken the gaming world by storm. In less than two days, the game has sold over 3 million units. With player counts on Steam that are exceeding the all-time highs of AAA titles like Baldur’s Gate 3 and Starfield, the game has been an unqualified success. Before long, Palworld might wind up on PlayStation and Nintendo consoles as well. The game hasn’t necessarily received universal praise, however.

A major criticism of Palworld is how derivative it is. One look at the designs of certain “Pals” and it’s easy to draw a straight line to the Pokemon or other character it was likely based on. However, some Pokemon fans take it a step further, accusing Pocketpair of using generative AI to create its Pal designs.

Was AI art used to develop Palworld?

There’s no official confirmation that Palworld used AI art during development, but Pocketpair has used AI in previous projects.

AI: Art Impostor is a party game with a central mechanic based on generative AI art. It received mixed reviews on Steam, with recent ones being mostly negative. Many reviewers cited learning more about the process of AI art as a reason for the negative review.

Alongside this, Pocketpair CEO Takuro Mizobe has mused about the future of generative AI on multiple occasions following Palworld’s announcement. This includes discussions of using generative AI in place of concept art and how he theorizes that concept artists will be replaced in the gaming industry.

Game developers have also stated that much of the game uses stock Unreal Engine assets and animations, with much of this visibly similar or identical to Fortnite. This drew comparisons to the game The Day Before, a title that was derided as a “scam” and had fans combing over games previously released by its publisher including The Wild Eight. Many brushed this off as acceptable due to frustration with Pokemon developer Game Freak, despite the ample availability of various other Pokemon-style RPGs.

Will The Pokemon Company sue Palworld for copyright infringement?

The Pokemon Company has not initiated legal action regarding the release of Palworld.

The Pokemon Company has also sued for copyright before. In 2022, The Pokemon Company sued several Chinese companies for copying its works and using them in unsanctioned mobile games. In that case, however, it was cut and dry since the assets were directly lifted from Pokemon games. Unlike Palworld, these games predated the widespread use and availability of generative AI.

A Carbuncle doll from Final Fantasy 13

It’s unclear whether the character designs would qualify as copyright infringement, despite the clear resemblance. Pokemon isn’t the only franchise that can be found in the game though, as monsters, creatures, and characters seemingly based on other IPs are also included.

The seemingly copied characters and possible use of generative AI have made the game highly controversial. The launch comes at a time when the emerging technology is facing intense criticism, as well as legal action from artists whose work was utilized by art generators without permission, credit, or payment. Despite this, Palworld has seen overwhelming success, becoming one of just a few games to clear over 1 million concurrent users on Steam.

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Written by Gab Hernandez

Gab Hernandez has a particular love for video games that give players control over the narrative direction, such as Divinity: Original Sin 2 and Disco Elysium. Gab spends just as much time playing games as they do gushing about them online to anyone who will listen.

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