Palworld hits 19m players, sees “biggest third-party Game Pass launch ever”

Palworld – you know, the open-world survival game with the definitely-not-Pokémon you might have heard about once or twice lately – has, less than two weeks after its early access release, officially surpassed 19m players on Xbox Series X/S and PC, with Microsoft now touting it as the biggest third-party launch in Game Pass’ history.

We’ve known known developer Pocketpair has had a hit on its hands with Palworld for some time now, of course; its early access launch on 19th January got off a bumpy start as an initial influx of players brought the game’s servers to their knees, and just 24 hours later Pocketpair revealed 2m players were already galavanting around the Palapagos Islands.

Shortly after, Palworld became one of only six games ever to hit 1m concurrent players on Steam, and then updated sales figures brought the news it had shifted over 5m copies in just three days. Six days after launch, Steam sales hit 8m, and now, 12 days in, Pocketpair has announced Palworld has surpassed 19m players.

Newscast: Will Pokémon take Palworld down?Watch on YouTube

Breaking that 19m figure down a little further, Pocketpair says Palworld has now sold 12m copies on Steam (Wikipedia’s extremely rough-and-ready list of best-selling PC games puts that a million ahead of the original The Sims lifetime sales and a million less than Stardew Valley for some vague context), while the extra 7m players come from Xbox, presumably including PC Game Pass.

There’s no indication of how that Xbox number breaks down between sales and Game Pass players (either fully committed or just passing through), but we do know Palworld has, according to Microsoft, enjoyed the biggest third-party launch in Game Pass’ history, seeing a peak of nearly 3m players.

In the same blog post, Microsoft notes it’s working with Pocketpair to enable dedicated servers (which are currently only available in the Steam version), to provide engineering resources to help with GPU and memory optimisation on Xbox, and to speed up the process so Palworld updates can get into Xbox players’ hands quicker. As for Pocketpair, the studio recently laid out a roadmap promises critical fixes in the short term and the likes of new Pals, new bosses, new islands, PvP, and end-game Raid Bosses further down the line.

As for the whole ‘but is it any good?’ question, Eurogamer’s Chris Tapsell wasn’t so keen. “You won’t feel like you’re playing something made with thought, or craft, or an earnest team’s best intentions,” he wrote. “You won’t feel admiration or wonder. You won’t feel any real sense of achievement. You won’t feel like any artist has been involved, or that anything meaningful might come to mind. You will instead feel like you’re playing a product designed to be sold, rather than to be played. You will feel like a mark. And you’ll be right.”

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