Indie developer No Matter Studios has revealed that it has been bullied by Bethesda and parent company ZeniMax into changing the name of its upcoming game Prey for the Gods, which is now called Praey for the Gods.
ZeniMax disputed the use of the word 'Prey', which is also the title of a sci-fi shooter published by Bethesda and set for release tomorrow (5 May).
"We didn't want to do this," No Matter wrote in a blog post. "Thankfully we get to keep the logo but we will spell it 'Praey for the Gods'. 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 team said it applied for trademarks for both 'Prey for the Gods' and 'Praey for the Gods'.
"While we disagree with their opposition we were able to come to an agreement", No Matter said.
The No Matter team said deciding whether or not to fight for the game's original, intended name "kept [us] up many nights" and frequently shifted focus away from the game's development.
"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," the statement reads. "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."
Bethesda marketing head Pete Hines defended the company's action in a Twitter post saying they did so to maintain control of its Prey trademark.
"We really didn't have much of a choice," Hines tweeted. "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 fought with another developer over what it considered to be trademark infringement of one of its beloved games. In 2011, Bethesda battled with Minecraft developer Mojang over the use of the word "Scrolls."
Praey for the Gods is expected to enter a Closed Alpha for Kickstarter backers soon and will release for PS4, Xbox One and PC in December 2017. You can watch a trailer for the game below.