The Pokémon Company, partially owned by gaming giant Nintendo, has announced an investigation into rival online game, Palworld, following numerous inquiries alleging similarities between the game and the Pokémon series.

Unexpected hit Palworld, an online multiplayer game developed by Japanese company Pocketpair, has sold an astonishing five million copies within just three days of its launch on Friday (19 January).

While The Pokémon Company asserted that no permission had been granted for the use of Pokémon intellectual property, critics argue that proving infringement may be challenging.

Despite Palworld’s massive sales, it has faced criticism for character design similarities to Pokémon and gameplay comparisons to survival games like Rust. Reviewers and fans have acknowledged the game’s impressive graphics, resulting in a “very positive” user rating on Steam based on 40,000 reviews.

On Monday morning, Palworld’s developers acknowledged 50,000 inquiries and reported being “aware of serious bugs” in the game. Launched in “early access,” the current version allows fans to play before the final product is released, providing companies with funds for further development.

Pocketpair assured players that information about fixes for issues would be shared as soon as possible

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The game, often referred to as “Pokémon with guns,” has witnessed overwhelming success, leading to intermittent server crashes as players struggled to log on.

Palworld, described as a “multiplayer monster-collecting game with open-world survival elements,” allows players, known as “pal-tamers,” to traverse a vast map battling both human foes and creatures known as “pals.” These pals can be captured and enlisted to either fight alongside the player or contribute to base activities such as crafting supplies.

At its peak, Palworld reported nearly 1.3 million concurrent players on Steam.

The gaming software market was worth $197bn in 2021 and will become
a $470bn industry by 2030, according to GlobalData estimates.

This estimates an increase at a compound annual growth rate of 10% over the period, the research company forecasted.

Cloud gaming will be the fastest-growing segment in the industry, expanding
from approximately $2bn in 2021 to more than $30bn by 2030 at a CAGR of 39%.