Gaming giant, Bethesda has taken to the strong arm of the law over a trademark dispute with No Matter Studios. Their successful Kickstarter campaign on Prey For The Gods had funding threatened by potential expenditure on this legal dispute. Yet, in a bid to save that money from being spent, No Matter has opted to buckle under Bethesda and Zenimax’s demands, changing the name of their game to Præy For The Gods.
“We could’ve fought this and we did think about it for quite a while. 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.”
Præy For The Gods Had No Choice But To Buckle Under Pressure
It’s easy for all to see that Bethesda owners, Zenimax are acutely aware they can push smaller devs around like this. Præy For The Gods was initially the name for the project but No Matter decided it would cause too many issues with interested parties searching online for it. Sadly, as a result of the above quote, they’ve had to bite the bullet and go with it regardless. For a development studio that had already made a decision on this, Zenimax has forced them into opting for a lesser of two evils that should never have been an issue in the first place. Of course, from Zenimax’s perspective, similar online search woes concern them.
Criticism continues over this decision purely for the fact that Præy For The Gods is absolutely nothing like Prey. Should an internet user mistakenly end up on the wrong home page it would take milliseconds to conclude they were in the wrong place. It would seem those milliseconds equate to the tiniest portions of money Zenimax are unprepared to risk losing. On the other hand, what about the money that would be spent throughout a legal dispute?
Yet, the recently released Prey has raised its share of eyebrows since initial reveal back in E3 of last year. Largely due to the fact that the only similarity it shares with 2006’s Prey is that it’s a sci-fi title. Which begs the question “why call it Prey in the first place”? A question sure to be left frustratingly unanswered in the wake of fans already let down by the cancellation of Prey 2 back in 2014.
Big Companies Bickering Over Small Problems
This isn’t the first instance of Bethesda / Zenimax putting the squeeze on smaller devs. They have attempted a name change on Mojang’s virtual card game, Scrolls. This was again for a seemingly misplaced assumption that gamers would confuse it with their Elder Scrolls series. Hello Games boss, Sean Murray also suffered a three year dispute with Sky, stating “the company had settled a legal dispute with Sky over the game’s name after “3 years of secret stupid legal nonsense.”
Bethesda seems to be losing popularity with its fans. It runs the risk of resting on its laurels after the successes of the Elder Scrolls and Fallout games. To add to matters, around the time of DOOM’s release, Bethesda had begun their questionable review policy. Releasing review copies of their games to the press either one day before or on day of release comes with several problems.
The lack of critical discussion online can lead to damages sales. It can lead to loss of profits to the devs we want to continue making games for us. Ask yourself – were you aware Prey came out yesterday? Even then, after advertising exposure of the game, do you know very much about it? These questions need to be answered for a healthy and profitable release window. This writer is left wondering how Bethesda will damage their reputation next.