Game Changes Its Name To Avoid Legal Battle With Bethesda Parent Company

"We really didn't have much of a choice," Bethesda's Pete Hines says.

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The developers of the indie game Prey for the Gods have announced that they have changed the name of their game due to trademark opposition with the rights-owners for the Prey series, ZeniMax.

In a blog post, developer No Matter Studios (a team of three people) said that it has changed the title of the Kickstarter-funded game to "Praey for the Gods" because it did not want to pursue a legal battle with a huge company like ZeniMax/Bethesda, though it did consider the option "for quite a while." However, it did not feel right to spend crowdsourced funds on something other than development or rewards."

"Something like a trademark opposition can be long and depending on how far someone wants to fight it can be very expensive," the studio explained. "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 new name is actually one that NoMatter considered prior to releasing the game's first trailer, the studio acknowledged. The team applied for trademarks for both Præy for the Gods and Prey for the Gods.

"Unfortunately, Zenimax chose to oppose our mark, as they felt both were too similar to their mark Prey. 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," the statement continues. "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 three. 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."

For its part, Bethesda marketing boss Pete Hines said on Twitter that his company took action so it could maintain control of the Prey trademark, which it owns.

"We really didn't have much of a choice," he said. "If we don't oppose the mark, we risk losing our Prey trademark. We don't really have a choice."

This is not the first time ZeniMax has contested a trademark related to one of its games. In 2011, ZeniMax contested that Minecraft developer Mojang was infringing on a trademark of the Elder Scrolls series with its new game at the time, Scrolls. The case was settled months later, with Scrolls allowed to keep that name, but with its trademark surrended to Bethesda.

The new Prey, the first entry in the series in a decade, launches on May 5 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

In other ZeniMax news, the company was recently awarded $500 million in its lawsuit against Facebook over Oculus Rift.

Disclosure: The CEO of GameSpot parent company CBS Corp., Leslie Moonves, is on the ZeniMax board of directors.

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