1706524072 And Pikachu took his gun Palworld between plagiarism and revolution

And Pikachu took his gun: “Palworld”, between plagiarism and revolution

Pokémon is an undeniable success in the world of video games. In fact, it is an undeniable success worldwide: it is not for nothing that it is the most successful media franchise in history. In part, this success is due to the transmedia capillarization that it may not have initiated, but which it knew how to exploit like no other: you can play Pokémon video games, but you can also watch its films, buy its cards, get all kinds of toys and Getting merchandise, reading his comics… in short, his success can only be compared to his ubiquity.

And yet video games, which should be the franchise's raison d'être, have long suffered from an inflexibility that has increasingly irritated gamers around the world. The newest installments on Switch are primitive in terms of playability, unimaginative in their monster creation, and generally unimaginative. Perhaps the lack of creative originality has to do with the owners of the franchise itself: the Pokémon universe is owned by The Pokémon Company, a Japanese company created to control the merchandising and licensing of the franchise, in three equal parts consists of Nintendo, Game Freak and Creatures.

This tripartite approach may work as a business – if the three companies have one thing in common, it's the logical desire to make money – but the truth is that it significantly hinders the creative development of the franchise. If there's one adjective that can't be used with the latest video games, it would be revolutionary. Be careful, maybe this is so: the latest Pokémon installments (Sword and Shield; Scarlet and Purple) are among the best-selling of the entire franchise. And yet almost all reviews contain comments that are unworthy of such an important saga.

The fact is that Pokémon has developed a rare twin. It's called Palworld, it appeared almost suddenly and was a complete success. But wherever the game is discussed, words like “plagiarism,” “copy,” “imitation” inevitably come up. Because? Well, because three minutes of play serve to recognize the obvious references. Palworld is broadly a mix of Fortnite and Pokémon, where our character (human) captures creatures (the friends) in spheres and then makes them fight other creatures. It wasn't long before montages with suspicious similarities between buddies and Pokémon started popping up all over the internet. With the ability to build and use conventional weapons (pistols, shotguns, rocket launchers), the game is aesthetically similar to Epic's shooter, in a crazy aesthetic twist that seems straight out of a bad Pikachu dream.

Comparison between some friends (left) and Pokémon (right).Comparison between some friends (left) and Pokémon (right).

The Pokemon Company was initially silent. A week and eight million copies of Palworld sold later, he finally decided on the Pals' similarity to his creatures. “We have received many inquiries about another company’s game that launched in January 2024,” the company said in a statement. “We have not granted permission for the use of Pokémon intellectual property or assets in this game. “We intend to investigate and take appropriate action on any actions that violate intellectual property rights related to Pokémon.” For his part, the CEO of the company behind Palworld responded in an interview that they never “had the slightest intention of protecting the intellectual property “injuring other companies.”

Anyway. We've already talked here about how the video game ecosystem works: each game is fed by the mechanical (even aesthetic) advances of other games in a dance of borrowed references that has evolved the medium by leaps and bounds. But sometimes companies go too far.

Is Palworld a plagiarism of Pokémon? The comparison is so automatic that the question is ridiculous. Will Palworld's company get a nasty call from an intellectual property lawyer? There is not the slightest doubt. Now: Can part of Palworld's success be explained by the flaws of the Pokémon franchise itself? Among the millions of people who have bought Palworld, there are many Pokémon players who rightly want their favorite franchise to take a turn, be disruptive, look to the future and introduce changes and new features that bring it out stagnation? That is, are there millions of players who ultimately, and more accurately, want Pokémon to have the courage to evolve? The truth is that there is no doubt about these questions either.

Image from “Palworld”.Image from “Palworld”.

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