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ZeniMax trademark forces indie to rename Prey for the Gods

“We could've fought this but we didn't want to spend our precious Kickstarter funds”

Independent developer No Matter Studios has chosen to alter its current project after Bethesda parent ZeniMax opposed the team's attempt to trademark the name of its game.

The three-strong team is currently working on a survival adventure game previously titled Prey for the Gods, but this has since been renamed to Praey for the Gods to avoid a clash with Bethesda's upcoming sci-fi shooter Prey.

"We could've fought this and we did think about it for quite a while," the team wrote in its latest newsletter. "Something like a trademark opposition can be long and depending on how far someone wants to fight it can be very expensive. We didn't want to spend our precious Kickstarter funds, nor did we want to have to ask for additional funds to fight this in court.

"Using backer money towards something that doesn't go towards the development or backer rewards felt horrible to us. Even if we did win we'd have to spend a solid chunk of our funds and in our opinion it wasn't worth it."

Praey for the Gods raised over $500,000 in its Kickstarter campaign last year, and is continuing to take donations but is determined to put all money towards development.

No Matter went on to explain that the game was originally going to be named Pry for the Gods, but reasoned that potential customers would have trouble typing the symbol into search engines and digital stores. As a result it applied to trademark both the Prey and Pry versions of the title, with ZeniMax opposing the former.

Given the original intention to use Pry, the logo (which "has both the woman praying against the duality of prey") has been retained, meaning alterations to the game have been relatively minor.

The team's newsletter added that changing the name was the preferable alternative to "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".

The post continued: "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."

ZeniMax and Bethesda has a history of vehemently protecting its trademarks. While this is perhaps less surprising in cases like DoomRL, which is directly based on one of its properties, its actions against titles such as Fortress Fallout and Mojang's Scrolls have shown how keen it is to ensure there is no possible room for confusion with its own brands.

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Latest comments (4)

Daniel Trezub QA Analyst, GameLoft3 months ago
So Emperor Ming's plot to trademark the alphabet and become zillionaire from collecting rights is not that far away... What kind of world is this where a company can stop other companies of using a common English word?
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 3 months ago
I am expecting to be sued based on a typical American mispronunciation of my name any day now.
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Chris Payne Managing Director & Founder, Quantum Soup Studios3 months ago
It's a grey area. It's dubious whether "Prey" and "Prey for the Gods" would really be mistaken, but it gets worse as they develop the IP and you end up with a lot more Prey-themed titles in the market. More importantly, if they don't contest "Prey for the Gods", it sets a precedent. They're protecting their IP against someone else coming along with something much dodgier like "Prey 2 Die" or "Prey 4 Death". Look at all the clone titles in the app store passing themselves off as Crossy Road or Ridiculous Fishing.
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Dariusz G. Jagielski Game Developer 3 months ago
@Chris Payne: What's worse, Bethesda's Prey IP (both original and reboot), isn't even first game called that. There was an Amiga CD32 game called Prey (with some subtitle). Sue them too, Beth, I guess?

These dolts should concentrate on making Elders Scrolls VI.

If they would put all that energy and money they put into sending C&Ds into fixing bugs, maybe we could get a Bethesda game that's actually good (Doom 2016 doesn't count, it's iD game even though Bethesda and iD are both owned by Zenimax). You have to leave some bugs my a**.

What you have to do is to froze game feature-wise at some point and concentrate only on bug fixing. There's no shame if some bug slips by, but if you know about some bug you fix it, period.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Dariusz G. Jagielski on 6th May 2017 10:50am

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