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"I’m just surprised it got this far" - ex-Pokémon lawyer says Palworld "looks like the usual ripoff nonsense"

Meanwhile, some other attorneys have suggested that Pocketpair has nothing to worry about.

Some Pals aiming machine guns in Palworld.
Image credit: VG247/Pocketpair

Amid the ongoing controversy around the very popular Palworld, a former Chief Legal Officer for The Pokémon Company has had his say on the game, arguing that it “looks like the usual ripoff nonsense” he’d often deal with while in that role.

If you’re out of the loop, while its player numbers have climbed to very impressive levels, Palworld has been accused of bearing too many similarities to Pokémon games, especially by fans of the latter. Aside from some broad generalisations about the game’s monster-hunting premise, the main focus has been on perceived similarities between the models used by some of Palworld’s Pals and a number of Pokemon.

Now, Don McGowan, who served as the Pokemon Company’s Chief Legal Officer from 2008 to 2020 and spent almost four years as Bungie’s General Counsel after leaving the role, has offered his views on Pocketpair’s latest release to 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,” McGowan said of Palworld, adding: “I’m just surprised it got this far.”

While McGowan’s perspective is definitely worth taking into account, he’s not the only lawyer to have recently offered thoughts on the controversy and whether The Pokémon Company has any concrete grounds to initiate legal action over Palworld. Speaking to Bloomberg, Brandon Huffman, founding attorney at Odin Law & Media - a firm that lists the video game industry among the areas it specialises in - has suggested that Pocketpair may well not be at risk of any legal repercussions.

Huffman cited the precedents set with regards to games taking inspiration and “adopting colleagues’ ideas” from existing titles in recent years, especially when it comes to survival and battle royale-focused games, with Palworld being the former.

Another of Odin’s attorneys, Connor Richards, argued after playing ten hours of the game that Palworld’s Pals “don’t really look like Pokémon”, with simpler designs being similar takes on regular animals and more complex ones not being exact copies of Pokémon. He added: “none of them give you the impression that they’re supposed to be the Pokémon.”

We’ve reached out to Pocketpair, The Pokémon Company, and Nintendo for comment on these views and will update this article ASAP if/when we receive responses.

If you’ve been affected by pesky bugs during your time with Palworld to this point, Pocketpair recently revealed that it's aware of and working on fixes for several of the game’s most serious issues.

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Mark Warren avatar

Mark Warren

Senior Staff Writer

With 2 years' games media experience, Mark (he/him) has seen more mods for Bethesda games than any person ever should. You can often find him enjoying an RPG, getting too invested in Madden’s terrifying franchise mode, or crashing expensive virtual cars into things.