Palworld's Immense Popularity Sparks Death Threats And Slander From Toxic Gamers

palworld developers getting death threats
If you’ve been online and paying attention to feeds over the past couple of days and weeks, you might have noticed the explosive popularity of Palworld. This Pokémon-esque MMO is the game that Pokémon players have been wanting, and it clearly shows with 5 million copies sold in three days since launch. However, this growth also draws in much of the negativity of the internet as controversy swirls around the game.

Palworld, released on January 19th of this year by the Japanese studio Pocketpair, is an open-world survival game where you “Fight, farm, build and work alongside mysterious creatures called ‘Pals,’” which are effectively like Pokémon. According to Steam, 1.55 million players are exploring with their Pals at the time of writing, which is unsurprising given the mass near-hysteria around the game, all the coverage on social media, coverage in the news, and elsewhere. In any event, all this hoopla is also drawing in some of the worst parts of the internet to attack the new pop culture icon or meme game, depending on how you look at it.

steam palworld developers getting death threats

Bucky, the community manager at Pocketpair, reported on X that amidst the plethora of messages flooding in, they are encountering death threats, threats to the company, and “massively outlandish claims.” Pocketpair CEO Takuro Mizobe also reported similar findings with “slanderous comments against our artists, and we are seeing tweets that appear to be death threats.”

Of course, we somewhat expect this sort of thing to happen, even as terrible as it is, just due to how the internet is. However, it seems this is a bit out of the ordinary, so why are people attacking Palworld and its developers?

bucky palworld developers getting death threats

The most obvious answer to this question lies with the potential Pokémon plagiarism, but going even further than that is the thought that Palworld has used AI to generate “Pals” off of Pokémon content. This has a lot of people up in arms, but the evidence for this is not as clear as some would make it out to be.

Setting aside the fact that determining if AI was used in the first place is darn near impossible, Steam has policies that make it so a developer must disclose if AI was used in a game. However, no such disclosure exists on the Steam page, and given the explosion of popularity, we would expect Steam and Valve to have a rather close eye on this. Further, it would seem that the CEO has used or is aware of the use of AI for generating Pokémon knockoffs in the past, and while potentially suspicious, is not substantiated. 

mizobe palworld developers getting death threats

At the end of the day, Palworld is an interesting spin on some existing concepts that gamers have seemingly been looking for in a new game. Of course, we would not expect this to be the game of the year, but it ought to do well, just like Among Us did a while back. We will have to see, though, so stay tuned to HotHardware for the latest Palworld pandemonium progress.