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Pokémon-style survival RPG Palworld sells 3 million copies in first 40 hours

Why it matters: Palworld, a new Early Access survival title that let’s players tame and train Pokémon-like creatures, has topped the Steam Top Sellers chart, shifting 3 million copies in its first 40 hours. Time may tell, but currently it seems to be more than just hype, the game has already amassed over 29,000 reviews and sits at “Very Positive” on Steam. At the time of writing, 93% of all reviews posted are positive.

A new survival and monster-catcher game is off to a huge start, eclipsing hit games like Cyberpunk and Elden Ring on Steam DB’s “Most Played Game” chart.

The relatively unheard-of title has burst onto the scene largely through word-of-mouth, with relatively little marketing to help it achieve its early success. The game is part Ark: Survival Evolved, part Harvest Moon, part Pokémon. In what sounds like a darker twist on the usual monster-catcher genre, the developers say on the game’s Steam page, “Pals [the tameable creatures] can be used to fight, or they can be made to work on farms or factories. You can even sell them or eat them!”

Yesterday, we reported that the game had achieved 850,000 concurrent players, but since then it easily surpassed the 1 million mark, reaching 1.25 million concurrent players, beating out multi-award winning games Elden Ring and Cyberpunk.

It sits in fifth place on Steam DB’s “Most Played” chart, with every other game ahead of it being free-to- play. Quite astonishing for an Early Access title three days after release.

The unique selling point appears to be the mash-up of genres that Palworld seeks to incorporate. It uses standard survival game mechanics like base building and resource gathering, then there’s the monster-catcher angle with the ‘Pals’ to collect and battle, but it’s also got quite impressive looking third-person action RPG combat.

While it’s still an Early Access title with no official release timeframe for the full game, it is reportedly already quite fleshed out. The developers say there are 100 monsters to tame and battle, hundreds of items to find or create, and over 70 building types to erect, all situated in a ‘vast’ open world for players to explore. The game also features dungeons and raid battles to add even more depth to the experience.

The game is multiplayer but it’s not an MMO. The Steam version currently supports servers of up to 32 players at a time, while the Xbox and Game Pass versions don’t have official servers, so only support 4-player self-hosted worlds at the moment.

The price tag may have something to do with its rapid uptake, too. Being an Early Access title, it’s currently priced at $26.99, which at a time when many new games are costing $60 or even $70 makes the experience all the more appealing.

Palworld is made by Pocket Pair, the Japanese studio behind the 2020 crafting/survival game ‘Craftopia’, though according to the Palworld community manager it’s made by a separate in-house team. Craftopia has a ‘Mostly Positive’ review score on Steam, but it’s still in Early Access after three and a half years, which may be some cause for concern for the future of Palworld.

Time will tell as to whether the Palworld frenzy is all hype or whether it goes on to become known as an innovator and staple classic of the monster-catcher genre. But for now, having sold well over 3 million copies in its first weekend, it appears the game is off to a strong start.

Palworld is available now on PC via Steam and Xbox, and is included with Game Pass.

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