Bethesda has commented on the trademark debacle, via a statement made to IGN:
“We really didn’t have much of a choice. If we don’t oppose the mark, we risk losing our Prey trademark and that isn’t acceptable. Unfortunately, that’s how trademark law works.”
The Bethesda representative added that multiple attempts were made to contact No Matter Studios as early as 2015, even before the game hit Kickstarter. They also noted they reached out to them “multiple times” since their funding.
The game’s name had to be changed, because Bethesda is readying to launch their new Prey reboot and they’re actively protecting that intellectual property. Now, the game will be known as Praey for the Gods, a small but necessary change to avoid further legal action.
To be clear, the three-man indie team can keep the game’s logo but have to officially list the title now as Praey for the Gods, as Bethesda felt both Prey for the Gods and Præy for the Gods were too similar to their Prey trademark.
Bethesda and parent company Zenimax have a history of going after other properties that use word(s) from their own IPs, with one of the most notable including Mojang’s Scrolls game, which Bethesda claimed was too similar to The Elder Scrolls. Both companies later settled this in court, allowing Mojang to keep using the name, however.
Here’s the full blurb on why they had to change their name:
Wha!? Why are you now PRAEY for the Gods!?
Oh yea that…so we didn’t want to do this but we had to change our game name from Prey for the Gods to Praey for the Gods. Thankfully we get to keep the logo but we will spell it “Praey for the Gods”. Honestly, we could make this entire newsletter about our thoughts on this. Trademark law is what we were dealing with and we aren’t under any NDA so we can state the opposition in this situation, Bethesda/Zenimax.
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. 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.
The truth is we initially thought about naming the game Præy for the Gods prior to our initial trailer. The logo has both the woman praying against the duality of prey, and thankfully we get to continue to use that. We figured people would have a hard time trying to type in the æ symbol in search engines etc. This was back in 2015 when we posted a trailer on Facebook and Twitter with had no idea if 100 or even 1000 people would watch the trailer. We were applying for both Prey for the Gods, and Præy for the Gods trademarks shortly after as we realized the extent of what we were making. Unfortunately, Zenimax chose to oppose our mark, as they felt both were too similar to their mark “Prey” which they purchased from Id Software, in 2009. 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.
Praey for the Gods is set for a PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One release sometime in December of this year.