Palworld FAQ: Release date, pricing, multiplayer, cross-play, and other questions answered

Palworld is launching into early access and game preview on Steam, Windows, and Xbox. The game will also be available via Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass.
(Image credit: Pocketpair)

In 2020, Pocketpair shot into the zeitgeist with its action-adventure RPG sandbox, Craftopia. Affectionately referred to as "Everything: The Game" by players, Craftopia was a delightful hodge podge of possibilities at a time when we all collectively needed it the most. Craftopia took streamers and PC gamers for a whirlwind ride, and it was eventually released into Game Preview for Xbox. Now, Palworld is here to take up the torch for Pocketpair.

Craftopia remains in development as part of Early Access and Game Preview programs, but Pocketpair has clearly shifted its focus to its latest hit — Palworld certainly has gamers abuzz. Within days, the game has already established itself as one of the best Xbox games of the year, and it came to Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass on Day One. The trailers for Palworld, like Craftopia before it, feel a bit like a fever dream, so you've probably got some questions about what this game is. We're going to do our best to answer them all for you.

What is Palworld?

Best answer: Palworld is a multiplayer survival-crafting adventure, developed by Pocketpair, that was released in Early Access on Steam and Game Preview on Windows PC and Xbox consoles.

In all honesty, "What is Palworld?" might be one of the most challenging questions in this entire FAQ. Like its predecessor, Craftopia, Palworld has an eclectic look and gameplay loop going for it. While many are quick to point out that Palworld looks like "Pokémon with guns", PocketPair CEO Takuro Mizobe explained that RimWorld was actually the inspiration behind the game. According to Mizobe, early development on Palworld involved colony sim gameplay, which eventually evolved to include third-person shooter elements and survival-crafting mechanics.

Players will encounter unique creatures in the world known as Pals, which they can fight or collect to fill out their Paldeck. Pals can also be used to power your assembly lines for crafting, ridden as mounts, or utilized as companions in battle. You know what, maybe it is Pokémon with guns. Whatever you categorize it as, Palworld is a chaotic multiplayer game that places up to 32 players in a world and lets them do whatever their heart desires (including hitting not-Pokémon with a stick). There's also up to four-player co-op.

Palworld guides and how-tos

One of many Pals you can discover in Palworld. (Image credit: Future via Michael Hoglund)

Windows Central is all-in on Palworld, and our team is having a blast exploring this vibrant world and discovering all its secrets. We're also spending time cataloguing everything we find and writing the best Palworld guides and how-tos you'll find on the internet. If you've found yourself here looking for answers to a specific question, you may also benefit from checking out one of our detailed Palworld guides.

If you'd rather just get a general overview of what makes Palworld so great (or how you can get started), you can check out our early access review-in-progress of Palworld, or peruse our beginner's guide with seven tips and tricks to get started in Palworld.

When does Palworld release?

Best answer: Palworld released in early access on Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One consoles and Windows PC via the Microsoft Store and Steam on Jan. 19, 2024. We don't know when Palworld will leave Early Access or if it'll eventually come to other platforms.

Palworld is available in early access on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and Windows PCs via the Microsoft Store and Steam as of Jan. 19, 2024. It's an in-progress game that will likely evolve significantly over time with frequent updates and improvements, and Pocketpair has given no indication of how long it may take for the game to leave early access as a full and complete gaming experience.

There are currently no plans to bring Palworld to the Nintendo Switch or PlayStation 5, but Pocketpair has not indicated the existence of an exclusivity clause that would prevent it from doing so. At this time, the developers have just decided to focus on Xbox consoles and Windows during the Early Access period.

How much does Palworld cost?

Best answer: Palworld will cost $29.99 while in Early Access and Game Preview (the cost is the same across Xbox and PC). The price for the final product may be higher.

Sure, let's just give this yellow thing a massive gatling gun. I'm sure that'll go great. (Image credit: Pocketpair)

Pocketpair has a fondness for releasing games into the Early Access and Game Preview programs, which allows the developers to release an unfinished product for players to purchase at a discount. In exchange for the lower price rate, players may run into more bugs and glitches, but the feedback collected by the developer can help make the final product better overall. 

There's no guarantee that a game released into EA or Game Preview will ever leave that state. It's rare for a game to stay in Early Access indefinitely, but it can certainly happen. Pocketpair's previous title, Craftopia, has been in Game Preview for nearly four years now. However, it continues to receive content and updates, the most recent being in December 2023.  

At least you can continue to pick Palworld (and Craftopia, if you haven't yet!) up at a discounted price of $29.99 while it is considered pre-release. 

Palworld (Early Access) — Buy at Microsoft Store (Xbox & PC) | Steam (PC)

Palworld (Early Access) — Buy at Microsoft Store (Xbox & PC) | Steam (PC)

You can play the latest internet sensation Palworld, lovingly dubbed "Pokémon with guns," right now on Xbox consoles and Windows PC in early access. The retail price is $29.99, which may rise in the future as the game evolves and expands ahead of its hopeful full release.

Does Palworld have a free trial or demo?

Best answer: Yes, Palworld offers a limited free trial on Xbox consoles and Windows PC via the Microsoft Store to try out the game before buying. Steam does not offer a free trial at this time.

I can ride this giant bird? I'm in. (Image credit: Pocketpair)

It's extremely easy to jump into Palworld via Xbox or PC Game Pass, but not everyone is subscribed to the Netflix-like gaming service. If you want to sample Palworld before you pull the trigger on its early access version, there is a free trial available on the Microsoft Store — accessible via Xbox consoles and Windows PC. It's accessed from the same store page where you buy the game (links above).

Unfortunately, Steam does not appear to offer any free trial or demo of Palworld. It's possible that it'll arrive in the future, but it's not available now, and there's no confirmation it will be.

Is Palworld on Xbox or PC Game Pass?

Best answer: Yes, Palworld is on Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass. It is now also available through Xbox Cloud Gaming.

There are other trainers in the world of Palworld. (Image credit: Pocketpair)

Just like its predecessor, Pocketpair's Palworld is a day-one release for Microsoft's popular gaming subscription service. There's certainly a possibility it'll leave in the future, but for now, you can access this surprise hit on Xbox consoles and Windows PC via Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass. There is cross-play between those versions, as well.

Palworld is now available via Xbox Cloud Gaming, too. That means you are no longer limited to Xbox and PC platforms, with an option to stream the game on other platforms. Sadly, Game Pass subscribers don't seem to get their 10% discount (20% for Game Pass Ultimate) on buying the game to own at the moment, possibly because Palworld is in Game Preview.

Does Palworld have multiplayer?

Best answer: Yes, Palworld has multiplayer support at launch. Players can play in co-op with up to four players, or join a 32-player multiplayer realm (Steam only at the moment).

Play with your friends or with strangers to wreak as much havoc as possible. (Image credit: Pocketpair)

Palworld has two options for multiplayer at launch, with one major caveat. Players on all platforms can join up to three of their friends in online four-player co-op (with cross-play for the Microsoft Store version). There's also an option to join 32-player realms for true chaos, but only on Steam, as that's the only platform that supports dedicated servers at the moment. 32-player realms should come to the Microsoft Store version for Xbox and PC players in the future.

There are no player-versus-player elements at launch. Pocketpair is looking to make Palworld a more cooperative experience, at least during the early access period. Matters may change on this front in the future.

Does Palworld support cross-play?

Best answer: Yes, Palworld supports cross-play between Xbox and Windows PC users via the Microsoft Store. Steam players do not have cross-play support at launch.

Okay, this just looks ridiculous. I love it. (Image credit: Pocketpair)

This one's a yes and a no! Players who load up Palworld via the Microsoft Store on Xbox consoles and Windows PC can enjoy full cross-play between the two platforms. However, Steam players will only be able to play with other Steam players, with no cross-play support at launch. While cross-play with Steam may come in the future, it hasn't been confirmed yet.

Does Palworld have cross-save or cross-progression?

Best answer: Yes, depending on how you access the game. Palworld does support Xbox cloud saves via the Microsoft Store version, meaning saves will transfer between Xbox consoles and Windows PC. Steam does not support cross-save at this time with other platforms.

Players can ride various creatures in Palworld. (Image credit: Pocketpair)

Palworld does support cross-save (or cross-progression, if you prefer), but only in one of the two versions available. If you purchase Palworld through the Microsoft Store or play via Xbox and PC Game Pass, the game supports Xbox cloud saves synced through your Microsoft Account. In that case, Palworld will transfer your progress between Xbox consoles and Windows PC through the cloud. In fact, Palworld is Xbox Play Anywhere, meaning you just have to buy it once to play across Xbox and PC.

However, the Steam version of Palworld does not support cross-save with other platforms at this time, same as cross-play.

Does Palworld use AI or steal from Nintendo's Pokémon?

Best answer: Despite controversy and widespread debate, there's no hard evidence that Pocketpair used AI to generate its Pals for Palworld or that it stole assets from Nintendo's Pokémon franchise. There are clearly similarities between Palworld and Pokémon, but it hasn't resulted in any legal action.

Many Pal's clearly take inspiration from Pokémon, but there are enough differences to avoid legal action, it seems. (Image credit: Windows Cental)

Since Palworld's announcement, many have pointed how the similarities between the game's various Pals and different Pokémon from Nintendo's legendary franchise. Furthermore, many have accused Pocketpair of using AI to generate its Pals to avoid paying artists, highlighting comments the CEO of Pocketpair has made regarding AI in the past.

We have a full guide detailing the Palworld AI and plagiarism controversies, but I'll summarize here. While Palworld clearly takes healthy inspiration from Pokémon, the differences are substantial enough to seemingly avoid legal action from Nintendo, according to various experts. In addition, accusations that Pocketpair stole assets directly from the Pokémon franchise have been delegitimized by closer inspections of models and the reveal that some accusers misconstrued data to some degree.

When it comes to AI, Pocketpair has defended its artists vehemently and has not admitted to using generative tools. Steam also requires games to disclose if AI tools were used in their development, and Palworld has no such disclosure. At the moment, there's no concrete evidence of AI use or direct plagiarism, and Pocketpair is clearly aiming to protect its runaway hit from intellectual property infringement.

What is Palworld's early access roadmap?

Best answer: Pocketpair has revealed a roadmap detailing its plans for Palworld's development. This includes short-term critical fixes, impending improvements, and long-term major feature additions such as player-versus-player (PvP), Steam and Xbox cross-play, new Pals and endgame content, and more.

Here is the early access roadmap for Palworld. (Image credit: Pocket Pair)

Pocketpair has laid out its plans to update Palworld during its early access period, or at least the first wave of updates coming to the unique creature-capturing survival-crafting phenomenon. The roadmap is split between three categories: critical fixes, immediate improvements, and future updates.

  • Addressing critical issues. These are major bugs that Pocketpair has identified and plans to fix as soon as possible, including:
    • Fixes for world data occasionally experience rollback
    • Fix for loading screens occasionally persisting when loading into worlds
    • Other miscellaneous fixes
  • Impending improvements. The studio has also highlighted other fixes and improvements planned for Palworld in the near future, including:
    • Improvements to key configuration
    • Improvements to Palworld AI and pathing
  • Future content updates. These are new features and major updates Pocketpair wants to bring to Palworld, which may take a significant amount of time to develop.
    • Player-versus-player (PvP) and Pal Arena (PvP for Pals)
    • New endgame raid bosses
    • Cross-play between Steam, Xbox, and Microsoft Store versions
    • New features for Xbox and Microsoft Store versions
    • Server transfers and migrations
    • Improvements to the building and crafting systems
    • New islands, Pals, bosses, and technologies

Does Palworld include crypto or microtransactions?

Best answer: No, Palworld does not include crypto, NFT, or other web3 connections. The game also does not have microtransactions or payment portals for any optional in-game purchases.

A green "Pal" that resembles a monkey carrying a weapon in a snowy biome in Palworld. (Image credit: Pocketpair)

Palworld certainly has that air of a game that is too good to be true. Players have long pleaded for a Pokemon-like game on platforms other than Nintendo. While there have been a few that have tried to fill the niche void in gamers' backlogs, Palworld has been the one to genuinely capture players' attention at this point. That has led some to wonder if the game is a scam or a devious means of crypto mining. 

Pocketpair has been adamant, posting FAQs on their own Steam pages debunking the idea that Palworld is a scam. To drive the point home, the development team has declared that not only does Palworld not have any connections to crypto or web3, but the game doesn't offer any in-game purchases, microtransactions, or payment processing at all. Everything the game offers can be accessed with a one-time purchase (or through Xbox Game Pass).

How many concurrent players and copies sold does Palworld have?

Best answer: Palworld has peaked at just over 2 million concurrent players solely on Steam, making it the second most-played video game of all time (behind PUBG: Battlegrounds). It has sold over 7 million unique copies.

Palworld has become a resounding success by every metric. (Image credit: Future via Michael Hoglund)

We've been keeping track of Palworld's success on Steam, and the game continues to break record after record. As of now, Palworld has officially broken 2 million concurrent players, making it the second most-played video game of all time on Steam according to simultaneous active players. It bested Counter-Strike 2 with 1.8 million concurrent players at its peak, and is now only behind PUBG: Battlegrounds (which had over 3 million concurrent players at its peak).

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If that's not enough, Palworld managed to sell an astonishing 7 million unique copies within just five days of its initial early access release across Xbox consoles and Windows PC. We also know that Palworld has been incredibly popular on Xbox Game Pass, regularly topping charts in the Microsoft Store, although we don't have exact player count information on those platforms.

By every conceivable metric, Palworld is a resounding success, besting many much larger and higher-budget games for mindshare, concurrent players, and copies sold.

Zachary Boddy
Staff Writer

Zachary Boddy (They / Them) is a Staff Writer for Windows Central, primarily focused on covering the latest news in tech and gaming, the best Xbox and PC games, and the most interesting Windows and Xbox hardware. They have been gaming and writing for most of their life starting with the original Xbox, and started out as a freelancer for Windows Central and its sister sites in 2019. Now a full-fledged Staff Writer, Zachary has expanded from only writing about all things Minecraft to covering practically everything on which Windows Central is an expert, especially when it comes to Microsoft. You can find Zachary on Twitter @BoddyZachary.

  • Ben Wilson
    I completely forgot about this game until yesterday, it's like a parody of Pokemon with guns lmao.

    Kinda want to try it, though. If it's on Game Pass, what's the harm?
  • Zachary Boddy
    Ben Wilson said:
    I completely forgot about this game until yesterday, it's like a parody of Pokemon with guns lmao.

    Kinda want to try it, though. If it's on Game Pass, what's the harm?
    You and millions of other people are having the same thoughts, I guess.