Besthesda's Forced ‘Prey for the Gods’ Name Change Feels Like Bullying


#1

The 'Shadow of the Colossus'-like game will now change its 'Prey' to 'Praey' to avoid any legal headaches with Bethesda parent company ZeniMax.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/besthesdas-forced-prey-for-the-gods-name-change-feels-like-bullying

#2

It’s very much bullying, imo. There was zero chance of Prey for the Gods’s name interfering with Prey’s marketing on any noticeable scale.


#3

Best part is that Prey probably will have no real meaningful connection to the brand name. I mean it basically just looks like System Shock 3.


#4

This is just as yucky as the whole “Scrolls” copyright debacle with Mojang. Copyright law is fucked up


#5

This reminds me a lot of Candy Crush Saga trying to bully Stoic, the devolpers of Banner Saga. It was gross then and it’s gross now!


#6

As an aside, when IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey came out in 2009, nobody representing 2006’s Prey tried to force a title change. The same was true in 2008, when Prey the Stars came out for the DS—but both releases came before Bethesda, and by association ZeniMax, took on the Prey franchise.

This is the thing that makes this all the more fucked. Why go after this game when they didn’t go after other games? (I mean, I know why, because they’re releasing something this fiscal year, but still.)


#7

Maybe they wouldn’t have to worry about visibility if they believed in pre-release reviews :innocent:


#8

Point of order, this is actually trademark law.

I don’t mean to be a pedant about it, this is just the area I work in and I think it’s important for people to realise the difference.

So there’s IP which is the umbrella term.
Then there’s copyright which in most countries is automatic and applies to how works can be reproduced.
Then there’s trademarks which apply to recognisable names/symbols etc (i.e. marks) that things are traded under, and is most powerful when it is registered.

The purpose of copyright at least originally, was in order to protect a creator’s ability to make money off their creation for a reasonably limited period.

The purpose of trademarks is various, but part of it is to prevent any confusion over the authenticity of products, or whether certain things for sale are associated with a particular mark and to protect against bootleg/knock-off versions of something being made.

Presumably Zenimax’s complaint here is that it would perhaps be possible for a reasonable person to mistake Prey for the Gods to be associated with the Prey trademark.

Personally, I think

a) Sure, that’s plausible, so legally they’re not at fault at least.
b) Nevertheless, there is a question of whether there is likely to be damage to the brand as a result of this, whether confusion is likely to be widespread enough to cause damage to the trademark, and that’s where I think they are probably being a little overzealous here.

With trademarks companies tend to be a little overzealous, since failing to protect their trademarks on more borderline cases can sometimes count against them if later there is a more clear-cut violation to defend against, so I get why this happened… but it probably didn’t need to.


#9

Thank you for the clarification!


#10

I’ve got a four-letter word Zenimax can have for free: Fuck.
I’ll even throw in a bonus three-letter word: Off.


#11

This is very silly and it doesn’t help that go at small studios who are just busy working on their cool game. Thanks for the notes @KestrelPi but this whole law needs to change if it forcing big studios to go after smaller ones for dumb reason like this.


#12

I’m not knowledgeable on the law in the slightest (and @KestrelPi’s rundown seems balanced and fair, thank you for sharing your knowledge!). As for whether this action ‘feels like bullying’, it definitely has the optics of a big company leaning on a small developer because there would be no effective way for No Matter Studios to respond and contest it. The only mitigating factor to the idea that it is ‘bullying’ is that they tried to go after Mojang on a similar legal line, which seems a little less mismatched?

Hopefully this won’t affect, ahem, Praey (although I’m not familiar with it) going forward, it is lucky that No Matter Studios found a pivot that still makes that game firmly recognisable.


#13

I think the “legality” argument does not strip them of fault. What that says to me is that the laws surrounding trademark are dubious and need revising since they allow large companies to essentially strongarm, at best, or blackmail, at worst, smaller companies.


#14

I don’t disagree - see point b of my post. There is a lot about IP law on general that has become very archaic in modern times, for example I think that copyright law needs reform to ensure that big business isn’t being exploitative in how they limit access. I think protection against piracy should be lessened when companies are not making reasonable endeavours to make creations available in a way that it can be easily accessed, is not only available as a bundle with other things etc.

And trademark I think needs a greater amount of clarity on where the line is drawn, and a higher amount of leniency based on the potential impact of confusion, etc, as well as intent.

Unfortunately all the lobbying is in the direction of making IP law worse.


#15

This is much more of a problem with IP law than a problem with Bethesda, but yes.


#16

Yeah, I definitely get a little bit of a gross vibe off of it, but given the ways the laws are shaped (thanks @KestrelPi for your post) I’m not terribly surprised it happened either. Still sucks.


#17

this sucks so much because prey for the gods is an AMAZING name and praey for the gods is just… bad.