Home Is Palworld “ripoff nonsense”? Former Pokemon legal boss thinks so

Is Palworld “ripoff nonsense”? Former Pokemon legal boss thinks so

Whatever you think about the phenomenon that is Palworld, you can’t really deny that some aspects of it are a little bit, er Pokemon.

Some aspects of it are other games too, and they are not really getting mentioned much, but such is the reputation of Nintendo and The Pokemon Company for being nothing if not fastidious when it comes to litigation, many are surprised that there is a Palworld at all – with or without the Pokemon mods that Nintendo is frantically shutting down as quickly as they appear.

Another thing that is for sure, is that, just as we spoke at the end of 2023 about the massive events in gaming last year, come the end of December, we are going to be bringing up Palworld. Six million sales in four days are not to be sneezed at, and whether the roller-coaster continues, we do not yet know, but it has been a memorable gaming event right at the start of 2024.

So what does Nintendo think about Palworld? You can imagine the mood has changed somewhat from the day before the launch to right now with millions of sales in the bank, but we don’t know what that mood actually is.

We did get some insight however from Don McGowan, the former Chief Legal Officer at The Pokemon Company between 2008-2020 who told Stephen Totilo at Game File, “This looks like the usual ripoff nonsense that I would see a thousand times a year when I was Chief Legal Officer of Pokémon. I’m just surprised it got this far.”

But is that oversimplifying things? If it was that much of a copy, wouldn’t Nintendo’s legal eagles have moved for it long since? We first saw a trailer for the game back in 2021. Nintendo would have seen it too. Given how quickly it moved to take any trace of the Pokemon mod down that only appeared yesterday, it would seem the issue is thornier than many Nintendo fans would like to think.

Also, the game is on Game Pass which means that it has passed through Microsoft’s legal department surely? It would not be in Game Pass’ best interest to have a title removed by a major competitor for copyright reasons so there must be confidence in Seattle that all is well.

One thing is for sure, this is unlikely to be the end of the story.

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Paul McNally
Gaming Editor

Paul McNally has been around consoles and computers since his parents bought him a Mattel Intellivision in 1980. He has been a prominent games journalist since the 1990s, spending over a decade as editor of popular print-based video games and computer magazines, including a market-leading PlayStation title published by IDG Media. Having spent time as Head of Communications at a professional sports club and working for high-profile charities such as the National Literacy Trust, he returned as Managing Editor in charge of large US-based technology websites in 2020. Paul has written high-end gaming content for GamePro, Official Australian PlayStation Magazine,…

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