You might have noticed that the Kickstarter-crowdfunded game Prey for the Gods is now called Praey for the Gods. That name change is actually the result of a trademark dispute involving Praey's developer, No Matter Studios, and Zenimax, Bethesda's parent company.
From 'Prey For The Gods' To 'Praey For The Gods'
For the uninitiated, the dispute grew out of Bethesda's ownership of the Prey trademark. Zenimax was concerned that Prey for the Gods would cause troubles for the company in the future. Hence, it had done something to prevent that.
Naturally, because Bethesda is a big company and No Matter Studios isn't, many became upset over the news. Seeking to better understand what had occurred, several people turned to Twitter to ask Pete Hines, Bethesda's VP for marketing and public relations, why it needed to compel No Matter Studios to change its game's name.
Why Was The Name Changed?
"We really didn't have much of a choice," said Hines in response to Slipgate Studios level designer Daniel Mortensen, who asked him how he can defend the company in light of the dispute.
"If we don't oppose the mark, we risk losing our Prey trademark. We don't really have a choice."
According to Hines, Zenimax had already contacted No Matter Studios in 2015 to notify them of the potential implications — but the warning was ignored. Hines adds neither companies are responsible for how trademark laws work, and that there have been similar situations in which Zenimax itself had to comply with name changes to avoid scuffing with trademark laws. To that end, when somebody pointed out how Mojang, the developer behind Minecraft, used Scrolls back in 2012, Hines said:
"Mojang's trademark filing was rejected, and they basically licensed the right to use Scrolls from us." By Scrolls, Hines is referring to Bethesda's The Elder Scrolls franchise.
Prey Franchise Happening, Says Pete Hines
Hines also noted that Bethesda intends to evolve Prey into its own franchise, which means it's highly likely the name Prey will show up in future titles moving forward. For this reason, the trademark dispute makes sense: it's possible gamers might confuse Prey for the Gods with Prey itself or future games, DLC content, and other elements which will bear the base name.
Both Hines and Mortensen pointed out that the dispute isn't a great situation. It's unfortunate how other developers can't use a fairly common word without running into legal trouble if that word happens to be trademarked. Still, it's how trademark laws work, and there's very little anyone can do about it.
All told, it's good to know that No Matters Studios at least settled on naming its game Praey for the Gods as a recourse. Anyway, the name is not too different from the previous one.
What's more, No Matter Studios may continue developing the game, and they can keep its original logo, which features a woman kneeling in prayer in place of the letter "E" in the word "Prey." Praey for the Gods doesn't have an official release date, but expect due coverage when we find out more.
Do you have any thoughts on Bethesda and No Matter Studios's legal dispute? Also, what do you think about trademark laws — are they ridiculous to you in this regard? Feel free to sound off in the comments section below!