The Controversial Rise of Palworld in Japan

Palworld, the survival crafting game that took the gaming world by storm, has amassed a staggering 19 million players globally. However, despite its success, the game has faced criticism and concerns, particularly in its home country of Japan. Japanese entertainment professionals have been asked by a talent agency to refrain from mentioning Palworld as a result of fears of jeopardizing potential collaborations with The Pokémon Company.

The Pokémon Company recently released an official statement addressing the new early-access title. Rather than naming Palworld directly, it referred to it as “another company’s game released in January 2024”. The statement emphasized that The Pokémon Company had not granted any permission for the use of Pokémon intellectual property and assets in Palworld. It further stated their intention to investigate and take appropriate measures against any infringement of their IP rights related to Pokémon.

In response to The Pokémon Company’s statement, a talent agency source revealed that they had instructed their talent to avoid mentioning Palworld on social media or in public. This decision was made out of consideration for both the Pokémon side and the agency’s own interests. The talent agency recognized the potential impact on collaborations with The Pokémon Company and aimed to avoid any negative consequences.

Even The Pokémon Company’s former Chief Legal Officer, Don McGowan, expressed surprise at Palworld’s success. The candid admission suggests that the controversial game’s rise exceeded expectations, causing a ripple within the industry. Nintendo, while acknowledging Palworld’s existence, has remained tight-lipped about the matter, refraining from commenting specifically on individual cases.

Despite the controversy surrounding Palworld, Microsoft’s gaming branch, Xbox, has shown support for the game’s developers. Xbox announced its intention to provide assistance to Palworld by enabling dedicated servers, offering game optimization support, and expediting the release of updates for players’ benefit. In addition, Palworld has become the largest third-party launch title on Xbox’s Game Pass subscription service, amassing over 7 million players since its debut in January.

Palworld’s journey and reception in Japan have been anything but smooth. The game’s skyrocketing popularity has raised concerns within the entertainment industry, prompting a talent agency to restrict the mention of Palworld to protect potential collaborations with The Pokémon Company. Despite the controversy, Xbox’s support for the game signifies a different perspective, highlighting the game’s significance and potential. As Palworld continues to evolve and attract millions of players worldwide, it remains to be seen how its presence will shape the gaming landscape and its interactions with established franchises like Pokémon.


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