Bethesda launched their new sci-fi adventure Prey this past Friday, but unfortunately, many people online have been more focused on the game’s name than its content. That’s because it recently came out that Bethesda/ZeniMax Media launched a trademark claim against indie game Prey for the Gods, forcing them to chance their name. The promising Kickstarter-funded adventure will now become the clunkier Praey for the Gods.
Developer No Matter Studios took to their blog to explain the situation:
“Why are you now PRAEY for the Gods!?
Oh yea, that. So, we didn’t want to do this but we had to change our game name from Prey for the Gods to Praey for the Gods. Thankfully we get to keep the logo but we will spell it Praey for the Gods. Honestly, we could make this entire newsletter about our thoughts on this. Trademark law is what we were dealing with and we aren’t under any NDA so we can state the opposition in this situation, Bethesda/Zenimax.
Unfortunately, Zenimax chose to oppose our mark, as they felt both were too similar to their mark “Prey.” While we disagree with their opposition we were able to come to an agreement. It was something that kept me up many nights, and no doubt shifted our focus from our game frequently. Worrying about the outcome if we went to trial, if we’d lose our fans or walk away from the mark and still potentially get sued for millions on trademark infringement. This is really something no starting company should have to deal with let alone a tiny team of three. So, the fact that we came out the other end intact still developing the game was a win. One that will no doubt shape our company moving forward.”
Needless to say, the online peanut gallery was not pleased about this development. These kind of “company tries to trademark common-use word or phrase” stories are never well received. Bethesda’s VP of PR, Pete Hines, has since addressed the situation, saying the company didn’t have a choice in the matter.
@TallulahSoie Cool has nothing to do with it. Its how trademark law works. You protect your mark or lose it. You don't really have a choice.— Pete Hines (@DCDeacon) May 3, 2017
Hines also claims Bethesda reached out to the Prey of the Gods team years ago, before they launched their Kickstarter, but couldn’t come to an agreement.
No Matter Studios has yet to confirm or deny whether they were contacted. Perhaps Bethesda could learn from the example set by CD Projekt RED, who recently trademarked the word “cyberpunk,” but went to some lengths to calmly explain their position and ensure fans they would only be using the trademark “defensively.” Even if Bethesda is, legally, within their rights, their snarky response isn’t a good look.
Prey is currently out on PC, Xbox One, and PS4. You can check out our early impressions here, and can expect our full review by the end of the week.
[via WCCF Tech]