Prey for the Gods, an indie game heavily inspired by Shadow of the Colossus, has had to undergo a name change. The studio behind the successful KickStarter project provided an update that the new title would be “Praey for the Gods”. The reason for all this? Bethesda decided that usage of the word “Prey” was a problem.
Prey, the sci-fi horror first person shooter, is releasing tomorrow. The reboot/reimagining of the early Xbox 360 title is coming off some favourable impressions. You might notice that the single word title of “Prey” happened to also appear in the title “Prey for the Gods”. This was seen as a trademark issue prompting ZeniMax, parent company of Bethesda Softworks, to contact the developers of Prey for the Gods, No Matter Studios.
In the newsletter which announces the name change, No Matter Studios goes into detail about why this all went down. They acknowledge that while they did not want to change to the name, they decided it was the best course of action to simply do so. While the studio believes they could have fought the claim, it might have gotten too complicated for a three man team to handle. From the time constraints to the funding of legal action, it was just easier for them to change the name.
Below is a small snippet from the newsletter but it really puts a shine on how something like this can effect a studio:
“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 3. 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.”
This is not the first time a single word triggered ZeniMax’s legal protection of trademark. Some might remember back in 2012, the entire “Scrolls” fiasco. This is what happened to Minecraft developer Mojang’s then in development game Scrolls. ZeniMax claimed that because the word “Scrolls” is used in the title of their popular franchise “The Elder Scrolls”, it was violating their trademark. This was settled, with Scrolls keeping its name, but that no Elder Scrolls type game would be developed. In 2015, they did this all over again with another small indie game, Fallout Fortress.
While this entire situation is upsetting, Praey for the Gods is still in development. The game made a splash back in 2015 with a reveal trailer which you can find above. Many took notice of the Shadow of the Colossus style gameplay and the scope of the creatures. The following year, the KickStarter commenced and it did not take long for players to show their support. The project went well over the $300,000 goal raking in over $500,000. While small updates were going on, the only real big news was the change of the name.
Praey for the Gods is still scheduled for release towards the end of 2017 for PlayStation 4, PC and Xbox One. Before that a closed alpha stage is planned to release to backers of the project but no timeframe has been given just yet. Hopefully no more roadblocks will hit No Matter Studios and Praey for the Gods can have a smooth launch.