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Prey for the Gods changes name to avoid fight with Bethesda's Prey (update)

Shadow of the Colossus-like indie falls victim to trademarks

Praey for the Gods - climbing up a snowy hill No Matter Studios

Kickstarter project Prey for the Gods has undergone a name change. Now titled Praey for the Gods, developer No Matter Studios had no problem naming names in a newsletter about the reason for the game’s new title.

“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,” the No Matter Studios team wrote. “Thankfully we get to keep the logo but we will spell it ‘Praey for the Gods.’”

No Matter Studios said that ZeniMax Media, parent company of Bethesda Softworks and owner of the Prey trademark, opposed its trademark application after it was submitted last May. In January, the developer abandoned its filing for Prey for the Gods, unwilling to fight ZeniMax Media over the title.

With a reboot of the cult classic Prey launching later this week, it makes sense that ZeniMax Media would be especially protective of its trademark. For a much smaller, crowdfunded project that has yet to enter the closed alpha stage, fighting back to keep the original name “wasn’t worth it.”

“While we disagree with their opposition we were able to come to an agreement,” No Matter’s post continued. “It was something that kept [us] 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.”

Update: ZeniMax is named in the trademark application and subsequent opposition notice. Although we’ve reached out to the company for comment, there’s precedence for this sort of thing.

In 2012, ZeniMax Media settled with Mojang over a dispute involving the name “Scrolls.” After ZeniMax contested Mojang’s use of the title, which it trademarked for its Elder Scrolls franchise, the companies came to an agreement: Mojang would license the trademark from ZeniMax to use for one of its own properties.

Another trademark claim cropped up in 2015, when a fan project called Fortress Fallout underwent a name change after a legal threat from ZeniMax. The company owns the trademark for Fallout, and it successfully requested that the creator of the unrelated project abandon its trademark application as a result.

Note that, unlike what happened with Scrolls and Fortress Fallout, No Matter Studios didn’t say that ZeniMax Media sent it a cease-and-desist notice; its trademark application was simply opposed before making it past the initial filing stage.

Praey for the Gods will enter a closed alpha state for Kickstarter backers sometime later this year, with a release on PCs, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One due by December 2017. Watch some pre-alpha gameplay below, from back when the game was still known by its initial, properly spelled title.

Update 2: Bethesda Softworks vice president Pete Hines told Polygon that the company “didn’t have much of a choice” in opposing No Matter Studios’ trademark request.

“If we don’t oppose the mark, we risk losing our Prey trademark and that isn’t acceptable,” said Hines. “Unfortunately, that’s how trademark law works.”

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