Opinion: The refreshing honesty of Palworld


Video games are art, and video games are products. These two things aren’t contradictory by any means. Palworld is saying the second part out loud.

A recent tweet caught our attention (and the attention of thousands of others) when they called out Palworld for shamelessly being a “product”.

Playing Palworld gives off the impression of playing a product designed to be sold, rather than to be played. You will feel like a mark. And you’ll be right.

I agree with them. But the point I’d like to make is that this isn’t a bad thing. The creator of Palworld himself has reportedly said that “I just want to make a game people like”, and that appears to have shown through to the over 7 million players (at the time of writing) and counting.

What I disagree with is characterizing PocketPair and Takuro Mizobe as cynical, rather I think it’s the sincerity of Palworld that’s been resonating with players. There’s a difference between chasing trends because they think gamers are idiots that will buy anything that ticks the right boxes, and following trends because you want to create something people will enjoy.

What’s cynical is hyping up overdeveloped and under-optimized AAA titles. What’s cynical is marketing games as “art” when it’s merely a “product”. Palworld might be a product, but at least PocketPair is honest and transparent about it.

I feel the need to pre-emptively defend myself that I love artsy games with heart-felt narratives and hours of dialogue; there are plenty of artistic games and by no means am I saying all games should be shamelessly made to appeal to the largest common denominator.

Too often, games are being made for some self-important director or writer to congratulate themselves over, or they’re being made for large corporations to extract maximum value (oftentimes it’s both). There’s nothing wrong with making money on a product, but the proclaimed artistic merit of the game ends up as merely a way to justify a $70 price point, why is mainstream appeal suddenly a problem when a Japanese indie developer does it instead of some AAA third-person-action-game mill?

Palworld offers players something genuine, it’s a $30 game where you can shoot “because Americans like to shoot things” made by a developer whose vision is to “make a game people like”. Is it any wonder that players prefer the enthusiasm of PocketPair and the honesty of Palworld?

I’d rather be respected as a customer than gassed up as a patron of the arts.

Palworld was just released on January 19th, for Windows PC (via Steam and the Microsoft Store), Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S. The game is also on Xbox Game Pass.



A basement-dwelling ogre, Brandon's a fan of indie games and slice of life anime. Has too many games and not enough time.

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