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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 Præy for the Gods, but reasoned that potential customers would have trouble typing the æ symbol into search engines and digital stores. As a result it applied to trademark both the Prey and Præy versions of the title, with ZeniMax opposing the former.

Given the original intention to use Præy, 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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James Batchelor

Editor-in-Chief

James Batchelor has been a journalist in the games industry since 2006, joining GamesIndustry in 2016, and also runs Non-Violent Game of the Day (@NVGOTD). He does play violent games, but always on Story/Easy mode.

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