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The Untold Truth Of Palworld

"Palworld" is one of those rare indie games that immediately captures the attention of the public before it's even completely finished. It already had a dedicated group of gamers awaiting its release throughout early development, then exploded in popularity as soon as people could get their hands on it. Released in early access on January 26, 2024, "Palworld" surprised gamers with its solid crafting and survival mechanics and its wicked sense of humor. That dark streak also drew a great deal of criticism from folks who found it be a little messed up, while its Pokémon-esque character designs riled up diehard fans of that long running franchise.


Amidst all of this good and bad publicity, "Palworld" managed to sell millions of copies in a matter of weeks. How did Pocketpair do it?As it turns out, the story of this game's existence has taken a few more wacky turns than most people might have realized. This is the untold truth of Palworld.

Before Palworld, there was Craftopia

Given the sudden explosion in popularity that "Palworld" experienced at launch, you'd be forgiven for thinking that Pocketpair came out of nowhere, but that's not so. The Japanese developer actually has a couple of previous games to its credit, including one that was faced with similar plagiarism claims.


"Craftopia" was released in early access back in late 2020, but gamers started harping on its design elements as early as when the first trailers for the game dropped, making several comparisons between Pocketpair's game and "The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild." The game's brightly-colored art style immediately brings to mind the lush fields of Hyrule for many gamers, as do the ruins and old tech that litter the landscape. Some fans have also pointed to the game's protagonist as being reminiscent of Link and Zelda, with the character's default cloak looking especially familiar to "Breath of the Wild" players. Add in gliding mechanics, a stamina meter, and even some combat animations that call Link's swordplay to mind, and you have a game that annoyed "Zelda" fans almost as much as "Genshin Impact" did when it was first announced. It certainly hasn't helped matters that the game's Steam listing outright points out that Pocketpair set out to combine multiple landmark games into one entertaining stew.


Gamers have mostly come around to "Craftopia" in the last few years, especially as it's become clear that Pocketpair's experience this game paved the way for so many things that work better in "Palworld."

Palworld cost a wild amount of money

Despite its reasonable early access price point and indie status, "Palworld" was not at all a cheap game to develop. In fact, Pocketpair CEO Takuro Mizobe ended up losing track of just how much money his studio spent on making it a reality. In a massive blog post celebrating the game's release (translation via Google Translate), Mizobe described the long road that "Palworld" took to getting made, explaining that Pocketpair first tested player interest by releasing a proof-of-concept trailer for the game. Though "Palworld" was originally meant to be a smaller title made with a team of 10 developers, the company didn't map out an estimated budget before beginning work on the project. After all, "Palworld" would have been canned if the trailer didn't generate much interest.


It did, however, which convinced Mizobe and co. to expand the team and go all-in on making "Palworld" over the next few years. Even then, Mizobe has revealed that a budget was never solidified. Instead, he just decided to run with the funds Pocketpair had in the bank and worry about the rest later, reasoning, "All you have to do is borrow money or release money just before the company goes bankrupt and your account balance drops to zero ... I decided to keep making ['Palworld'] without worrying about the budget." The CEO has revealed that the budget for "Palworld" exceeded one billion yen (roughly 6.65 million US dollars), but an exact number remains elusive.

Palworld found its weapon designer at a gas station

Az Takuro Mizobe explained in his blog post, the game that would come to be colloquially known as "Pokémon with guns" required a very specific set of skills to create. Unfortunately, experienced third-person shooter developers were in short supply when Pocketpair began working on "Palworld." Mizobe argued that Japan is widley known for its RPGs, but shooters are a bit more of a niche market when it comes to Japanese developers. Because shooters are more prevalent in other parts of the world, Mizobe explained, Pocketpair strongly considered outsourcing the job of designing the game's guns to another country, which could have resulted in a difficult language barrier. Luckily, the team found a designer in the last place they expected: a convenience store.


Well, technically, Mizobe found the artist on X/Twitter, where they'd been posting their own homemade gun animations. After messaging this amateur artist, Mizobe learned that they were a 20-year-old convenience store employee with no formal training in animation. Mizobe said that this animator was exactly what Pocketpair had been looking for, though it took some convincing: "A small, unknown game company in Tokyo [says], 'We want to hire you as a full-time employee, so please come to Tokyo from Hokkaido.” Normally people would suspect some kind of shady fraud," Mizobe admitted.

Palworld fans have noticed 'missing' features

Like many games, "Palworld" went through many changes over the course of development. For instance, the game's very first trailer was animated using the Unity engine, while the final game runs on Unreal Engine 5. Some of the game's early previews have gotten harder to track down online since the changeover, but eagle-eyed fans have pointed out that these contained a number of scenes that seemed to depict gameplay mechanics and locales left out of the final product.


Some of the "lost" — or, more likely, dropped — content from the game's first trailers includes more urban environments, a hoverboard-style device for traversal, the ability to shear the wool from captured Lamballs, using Direhowls to pull a cart, and even fishing. Fans still hold out hope that many of these mechanics and locations might still be implemented in future updates. After all, Pals can also be seen fighting in an arena of some kind, and Pocketpair has already confirmed that PVP will be added to "Palworld" at some point. Who's to say some of the other teased features won't also be added?

Some Pals still haven't (officially) seen the light of day

Thanks to early trailers and the efforts of dataminers, "Palworld" fans have become aware of at least six Pals that have yet to appear in the game proper.It's unclear at this time why some of the creatures haven't appeared just yet, but we can guess about a couple of them.


In particular, some fans think that the unreleased Pals Dragostrophe, Boltmane, and the unnamed Dark Mutant share too many design similarities with pre-existing Pokémon Zoroark, Luxray, and Mega Mewtwo-Y, respectively. These Pals may have been left out of the launch version of the game because Nintendo's lawyers might not have appreciated the resemblance. That's only speculation, of course, and not something that the developer has commented on. Meanwhile, some fans have theorized that the giant whale-like Pal glimpses in an early preview did make it into the game — as a skeleton. It's entirely possible that any one (or all) of these six missing Pals could one day join the game proper. Maybe players will even be able to somehow resuscitate those bones to create a living, breathing Pal in a future update.