Prey trademark forces Prey for the Gods name change

Prey for the Gods [official site], the crowdfunded surive-o-action game heavily inspired by Shadow of the Colossus, is now named Praey for the Gods. It’s a rubbish name but it is a trademarkable one. Developers No Matter Studios have made this change because Zenimax, the owners of Bethesda, thought Prey for the Gods was too close to their trademark for Prey. Rather than spend their limited funds on battling Zenimax’s lawyers, No Matter agreed to change the name. The Suits didn’t object to Praey for the Gods, a title close to one No Matter had originally considered anyway, so here we are. Here ends the threat of people mistakenly thinking Prey for the Gods is, I don’t know, an ultra-exclusive limited edition of Prey reserved for religious leaders.

No Matter Studios explain the situation in their latest newsletter:

“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.”

They add that they had originally considered the name ‘Præy for the Gods’ and had applied to trademark that too, but “We figured people would have a hard time trying to type in the æ symbol in search engines etc.” so they settled on Prey for the Gods. Split the difference and we get Praey for the Gods, which is a rubbish name but one Zenimax’s lawyers won’t object to.

You might remember that Zenimax’s lawyers butted heads with Mojang when the Minecraft developers tried to trademark ‘Scrolls’ for their card game. Bethesda later launched their own fantasy card game, The Elder Scrolls: Legends, so you can see why they might want that space uncontested. Prey for the Gods and Prey seem different-enough games that this is way more iffy, but that’s trademark law for you.

Preayaeye for the Gods is due out this December. For now, here’s a new pre-alpha gameplay video which I believe shows the player attempting to murder Trico’s nan:

57 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    N'Al says:

    No Matter.

  2. gub says:

    What a terrible look for a game developer. I get the stance on defending a trademark, but any video game that simply starts with a word your games are named after seems sleazy. But I guess that’s how it is.

    • Bluestormzion says:

      They did this shit to Mojang’s “Scrolls,” too. Bethesda/Zenimax is getting onto my shit list.

    • Telkir says:

      No-one is going to persuade me that Zenimax *had* to do this in order to “defend their trademark”. Their behaviour is unnecessarily antagonistic and just plain ridiculous.

      • snowgim says:

        I feel like Zenimax’s legal department is just trying to justify their existence by pursuing pedantic cases like this. Their bosses are like ‘why are we paying you if you’re not suing anyone? Get to work!’ and they’re like ‘uhh, uhh, look! This game uses a common word we also use, lawsuit!’

        • RQH says:

          Look up Zenimax/Bethesda’s CEO Robert A. Altman. It’s more than an idle legal department. A lawyer is running the whole show.

      • draglikepull says:

        Indeed, the purpose of trademark is to prevent other companies from passing off their own products as yours, and yet I don’t think there’s any reasonable case here that there was a serious risk of confusion among consumers or that “Prey For The Gods” was meant to profit from Zenimax’s branding in any way.

        • Bassen_Hjertelos says:

          What I’d like to see is someone suing Zenimax because they made a game called “Hunted” and then drew a connection to the word prey. Oh, wait… That would be Zenimax cannibalizing themselves. :P

    • Alien426 says:

      Bethesda/Zenimax, who could just have gone ahead and name all their games “DOOM” (hey, it worked before), have no business meddling in other games’ names.

    • Bassen_Hjertelos says:

      There is this interesting fact that words are generally needed to come up with new titles. This whole “trademark law” shemagog is wandering dangerously close to word patenting.

  3. wu wei says:

    “Pray for the Gods” seems like a better choice; it’s an obvious play on words and you are hunting them, so…

    • skyturnedred says:

      If you look at the logo of the game (which they got to keep btw), the ‘E’ in ‘Prey’ is the main character praying.

      • ButteringSundays says:

        “(which they got to keep btw)”

        I assume they’re at least going to add the ‘a’ to it, unless they’re keen on confusing their players by spelling the name of their game differently in text and image.

  4. int says:

    This just in! Bethesda Meeting House, a church in Bethesda, Maryland forces Bethesda Softworks to remove or change the word Bethesda from their company!

    At a press conference, they were not taking questions but ended with the comment: “U mad bros?”

    • ButteringSundays says:

      I know you’re only joking but that’s not how trademarks work.

      • ZippyLemon says:

        Lawyer detected.

      • Premium User Badge

        MajorLag says:

        That’s never stopped corporations before. McDonald’s, IIRC, once sued out of business a McDonald’s Grocery Store that had existed since before the fast food chain’s founding.

        In law, it doesn’t matter who is right, only who can afford the legal battle.

        • keefybabe says:

          Kind of reminds we of when the World Wrestling Federation tried to sue the World Wildlife Fund. Given that they’re now World Wrestling Entertainment you can guess how that went.

          • lordcooper says:

            You’ve gotten mixed up, the panda botherers sued the muscly ballerinas.

        • April March says:

          I remember hearing a story about McDonald’s trying to sue a restaurant owned by an aristocrat whose title was Count McDonald of McDonald.

      • Shuck says:

        “That’s now how trademarks work”
        Or rather, that’s not how trademark battles are supposed to work, but in the real world, often do because people are idiots. (Or, in the case of Apple Records vs. Apple Computers, they had a prescient sense of how their business model would change…)
        But fine: The church can claim they’re making a (education, religious instruction) game.

        • TechnicalBen says:

          OH it is worse. Apple just won (again) against “Pear It Solutions” who’s logo was a pear.

          Pear changed the logo to a square (with rounded corners) pear, and still lost!

          It’s beyond a joke.

  5. ColonelFlanders says:

    Oh yeah I forgot that those fucking patent trolls at Zenimax were releasing the new Prey. Well, sorry Bethesda but you ain’t getting any of my money.

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      Exactly, there was a pretty small chance of getting confused between Prey and Prey For The Gods, but I’ve been constantly confused by them releasing a game called Prey which has nothing to do with a previous game called Prey despite having the exact same name.
      If the old Prey had been a massive hit and a household name, I could see why they might have wanted to piggyback on it’s success (XCOM: The Bureau anyone?), but instead they’re inextricably linking their new game with one that makes most people go “Er yeah, I think I heard about that one, never played it though, you were some native American guy fighting aliens right? Never played it though, I heard it was ok? Maybe 7/10?”

      • Bluestormzion says:

        Steals previous game’s title.

        Gets pissy about another game using a word that has existed for hundreds of years as one quarter of its title.

        Expects consumer sympathy.

        This is the new Frontier, gentlemen. We’ve got Copyright Rustlers hidin’ in them hills, so ya’ll getter git yer guns. My Gran’pappy lost half his herd of titles when some varmint claimed that since he owned Crows, and Cows is just Crows with an R cut out of it, he had legal claim to them Cows.

        • Premium User Badge

          MajorLag says:

          This behavior is hardly new. Disney built their empire on it.

      • Premium User Badge

        DelrueOfDetroit says:

        TBF, Prey 2 seemed to have about as much of a connection to the first as this did.

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      Whatever you might think of Zenimax’s behaviour here, this isn’t even close to patent trolling.

      • ColonelFlanders says:

        It isn’t and I know exactly what patent trolling is, but it felt good to call them that because they’re assholes.

  6. trollomat says:

    Typo in the ninth word. You’re welcome.

    On topic: What the fuck. It’s almost as if they WANT to be despised.

  7. Caiman says:

    Thanks for bringing this game to my attention Zenimax. I’ll now be buying that in December instead of buying Prey now (as if I would anyway with its ridiculous price here in Australia) as a giant “fuck you”. I’m sure I’ll get Prey eventually from a Humble Bundle in a couple of years time, no rush.

    • Fersken says:

      Yeah, never heard of Præy for the Gods until this news. I really hope the game turns out great. Never player Shadow of the Colossus, but heard good things about it.

      After the shitty state they launched Dishonored 2 I refuse to buy Prey until it gets a 75% discount (provided the game isn’t crap of course).

  8. Fersken says:

    ÆÆÆæææææææææææ

    Sweet, I rarely get to use the æ-key on my keyboard. Finally some (tiny) benefit to NOR input language setting!

    Præææææy… this is great!

    • Darloth says:

      I envy your freeflowing digraphic ligatures.

      • ColonelFlanders says:

        I’m not sure but the doctor said it was serious.

      • Fersken says:

        A møøse once bit my sister…

        I didn’t need to paste that from anywhere ;P

        Zænimax really has to make sure they get their monies worth when it comes to their lawyers, don’t they?

    • April March says:

    • Jernau Gurgeh says:

      I’m a Danophile and I get very excited when I can legitimately use one of their language’s splendid extra vowels, ‘æ’ being my favourite. I will no doubt always refer to this game as Præy For The Gods.

  9. Suits says:

    That new title hurts my eyes. But as long as it turns out good I don’t care if it’s called The Elder Prey: Scrolls of the Saga

  10. ZippyLemon says:

    So…

    BGS are stuck in a creative rut, utterly incapable of doing anything clever with their formula in either TES or Fallout.

    Arkane have, as far as we know, been bundled into making Dishonoreds until that runs into the ground.

    TESO, as if it isn’t enough that it’s a (crappy) MMO, is also taking a stinking dump on TES lore.

    What else? Oh yes. One, two, three, FOUR manshoots. Very respectable output there so far but, then again, we probably wouldn’t feel it if they ceased to exist. Plus a CCG and a middling horror game.

    Well ZeniMax, though you slinked around the edges of gamer ire for a long time, it looks like your lawyers are finally dragging your shittiness into the light.

    Ah, capitalism. The system works.

  11. keefybabe says:

    Zenimax own words now.

  12. Turkey says:

    Guys, this is perfectly reasonable.

    What if some grandma gets confused when she’s gifting Prey on Steam to little Johnny on Christmas morning?

    It’s not fair.

    Grandma doesn’t know how to use the search function properly. She only created her Steam account yesterday. It took her hours just to add Johnny_NoScope69 to her friends list.

    Won’t somebody think of all the Steam Grandmas out there?

  13. lokimotive says:

    I’m pretty sure that ‘æ’ would be indexed as ‘ae’ in most indexes worth their salt, particularly those catering to users who don’t have æ as a letter in their language. Surely, Præy for the Gods would present very little problem for Googling.

  14. Drib says:

    I’m going to trademark “The” and start suing folks left and right.

    • Jernau Gurgeh says:

      You could start with the popular music combo ‘The The’ to get a decent first payout for your litigation enterprise.

  15. HeavyStorm says:

    Fuck Zenimax population Zenimax population.

    Too bad they acquired id. I respected id.

  16. Ham Solo says:

    There already was a game called “Prey” years ago.

  17. fish99 says:

    I hate Zenimax.

  18. Premium User Badge

    DelrueOfDetroit says:

    Prey, the only game made by gods for gods.

  19. Chann3l says:

    That’s pretty crappy of Zenimax/Bethesda. More confusion caused by the fact that they released an unrelated game under the same title as a previous game than there would be over “Prey For the Gods”.
    I really don’t understand why they wouldn’t have went with “Pray” after that though. At least that’s a real word.

  20. Jernau Gurgeh says:

    All that matters to me here are the words ‘heavily inspired by Shadow of the Colossus’ and needing to know who I throw my money at…

    • Jernau Gurgeh says:

      Oh. And it’s set in frozen snowy world. Excuse whilst I just go and change my underpants.