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Did Palworld Steal Intellectual Property with AI?

Julia McCoy
Sunday, 28th Jan 2024
Julia McCoy
5 min read · Jan 11 2022

Imagine a world where your wildest adventures come alive, side by side with creatures that do more than just keep you company. Welcome to Palworld, the multiplayer haven where survival meets whimsy. This game’s not just about crafting and battling; it’s about making connections with Pals, each one brimming with personality and potential.

Palworld has become an internet sensation — selling 7 million copies in 5 days!

As an ardent fan of Pokémon, I’ve come across numerous games within the “monster tamer” genre that draws inspiration from it, but none have been as startlingly similar as Palworld. The game’s trailer showcasing a heavily armed trainer using a terrified pocket monster as a shield is almost comically absurd, yet what isn’t so amusing is how closely Palworld’s creatures resemble those in Pokémon.

The creation of unique designs for each creature seems to be where developer Pocketpair has stumbled with their new venture into the gaming world. Instead of crafting original characters and concepts, they appear to have borrowed elements from various Pokémon designs when creating their creatures — or Pals.

I’m not here just to point fingers without evidence though! Let me share some examples that demonstrate these striking similarities between both games’ monsters:

  1. Pikachu look-alike: While Pikachu doesn’t make an appearance in Palworld per se, there’s no denying that many of the designs are eerily similar.
  2. Frankenstein-like creations: Some Pals seem like mishmashes of different Pokémon thrown together – kindling memories of Frankenstein’s monster!

In response to allegations regarding plagiarism and copyright infringement issues surrounding its character design choices, Pocketpair CEO Takuro Mizobe denies any wrongdoing. However, this hasn’t stopped The Pokémon Company from taking notice and issuing a statement about possible legal action against such infringements on intellectual property rights related to Pokemon characters.

It’s clear that the debate over Palworld’s originality is far from over, and in this week’s podcast, we dissect the impact of AI on intellectual property.

Listen to all episodes of our show, Future Tense. ✨ It’s the AI show worth listening to; because we’re doing the research, and all the work, to bring you AI news actually worth your time. We cut through the clutter and get to the game-changing info around AI. What you really need to know – like yesterday – to be informed. Listen now on the platform of your choice:

What is Palworld?

Palworld is a monster-collecting game set in a hostile, treacherous world where players encounter charming little critters. This game offers a fresh twist on the genre by allowing gamers to recruit these ‘Pals’ for various tasks such as crafting, foraging, and battling. The innovative fusion of survival elements with classic monster-taming has captivated the gaming world — with 7 million downloads since the Palworld release date last January 19, 2024.

Current Palworld platforms include Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Series S, and Microsoft Windows.

Is Palworld free?

Palworld is currently available in early access, and the Palworld price depends on what platform it’s on.

Palworld is available for purchase on PC via Steam, and Xbox Series X/S via the digital store. The PC version costs $29.99 while the Xbox version is $29.99.

Despite its popularity, Palworld has stirred debate over allegations of copying the beloved Pokémon series.

Is Palworld a Fair Parody of Pokémon or AI-Generated Fakémon?

In the fascinating world of Palworld, there are some Pals that might seem oddly familiar to you. If you’re an avid Pokémon fan, it’s likely because these creatures bear striking resemblances to certain characters from the popular franchise.

The first one is Boltmane. This Pal has uncanny similarities with Luxray – but not just any Luxray, a shiny one! Despite its appearance in preview footage, Boltmane isn’t currently available in the game. It leaves us wondering if this character was scrapped or if we can expect its introduction at a later date.

Another notable mention is Direhowl which bears more than a passing resemblance to Lycanroc from Pokémon. The likeness between them is so strong that it’s hard not to draw comparisons!

Here’s another example: Pengullet, the blue penguin Pal. Its resemblance to Piplup – the adorable blue penguin Pokémon – is hard to ignore. Yet again, even though they share common traits inherent to their species (i.e., being blue and penguins), Pengullet retains its uniqueness through different execution in design details.

The jet-dragon Pal named Jetragon shares an uncanny resemblance with the jet-dragon Pokémon Latios and Latias. The visual design elements of these characters seem so alike that one could easily mistake them for each other at first glance.

Then we have Lamball – a woolly creature in Palworld that seems eerily similar to Wooloo from Pokémon after a haircut. While there might be minor differences in their appearances, they share enough commonalities to raise eyebrows among fans of both franchises.

Another example would be Wixen – a fire-type pal whose design appears inspired by Delphox from Pokemon. However, upon closer inspection, Wixen’s alternate design, crafted by fan artists shows more similarities than its original counterpart.

Cremis, the adorable critter that looks like someone dropped an Eevee into whipped cream, has a striking similarity with Gigantamax Eevee – another case of twinning!

Lastly, we take a look at Sparkit, a small yellow furry electric creature reminiscent of Pikachu – the iconic mascot of Pokémon. While there are similarities in concept, Sparkit is by no means a carbon copy. It maintains its distinct design that sets it apart from Pikachu.

AI-Generated Images: Are They Theft and Is It Morally Right to Use Them?

The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) has brought about a revolution in various sectors, including the creative industry. One area that has seen significant growth is the generation of images by AI. However, this innovation raises some ethical questions: Are AI-generated images considered theft? And is it morally right to use them?

When we say ‘theft,’ we’re referring primarily to copyright infringement. If an image generated by an algorithm infringes on someone else’s copyrighted work, then it could be considered theft under current laws.

This brings us into murky legal waters because while human-made creations can be protected by copyright law, there’s no clear consensus when it comes to works created by artificial intelligence. This lack of clarity leaves room for potential misuse and exploitation.

Here is what the U.S. Copyright Office says about AI-generated content:

Beyond legality lies morality – just because something isn’t technically illegal doesn’t mean it’s ethically right. When using AI-generated imagery or any other type of content produced via machine learning algorithms, one must consider if they are respecting intellectual property rights and not exploiting loopholes for personal gain.

Moreover, as creators increasingly rely on artificial intelligence tools, it’s essential to consider the potential impact on jobs and livelihoods. If AI-generated images become the norm, what will happen to professional photographers, designers, and artists?

Is Your Personal Information Secure?

Another pressing concern with AI – and why many businesses hesitate to adopt it – is security. With large language models (LLM) like ChatGPT, any information you put out there is going to be fed to that bucket of nearly a trillion data points.

A recent example was when Samsung banned the use of ChatGPT in all of its offices after an employee accidentally prompted the chatbot with proprietary code.

In contrast, if you’re using a tool like Content at Scale, you know that anything you put there is completely safe. The Content at Scale development team has built parameters to prevent your information from being leaked to other users.

So it’s up to us – it is now our responsibility to know these things. If we’re going to wait for government legislation, we are making the wrong move. It’s going to take years before legislation catches up and by that time the world is going to look very different.

AI is a tool for you to use. It’s not theft. What AI does is take a trained sequence of information –  whether that be text or images – and then create something based on that.

Pretty similar to what humans do: we learn certain techniques from other people, from our past, from our upbringing, and then we create something through that lens.

If you’re scared of using AI, don’t be. Let the market decide whether you are providing value or not.

Conclusion

As artificial intelligence continues to advance at a breakneck pace, its capacity for innovation is matched only by the complexity of ethical dilemmas it introduces. Chief among these is the thorny issue of plagiarism and copyright infringement — a specter that looms large over AI’s potential to replicate and remix human creativity.

The proliferation of AI tools capable of generating content with unprecedented ease raises critical questions about authorship, ownership, and the sanctity of original work in this new digital epoch.

To keep innovation in check without stifling its spirit, we’ve got to educate ourselves about what flies and what doesn’t when generating content with AI. Plus, weaving in smart tech solutions that can flag potential copycats could be a game-changer.

Remember, it’s all about striking that delicate balance where AI becomes a tool for creation rather than imitation. By championing transparency and respecting ownership every step of the way, we’re setting up a future where technology uplifts creativity while honoring originality — a win-win scenario waiting just around the corner if we play our cards right.

Written by Julia McCoy

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