Last week, we spoke about No Man’s Sky’s close brush with licensing patented technology. This week, we take a look at another misstep: trademarks.
While the patent concerns could have affected the underlying technology powering the game and generating its planets, the trademark may have affected another core aspect: its name. In mid-June, a random tweet from Hello Games’ studio head Sean Murray announced that the company “finally settled with Sky” over the use of the word “Sky.” According to Murray, British telecommunications company Sky was negotiating with his company over the use of “Sky” in the game’s name for at least three years, probably after the game’s original debut at the VGX Awards in December 2013 before receiving a major push from Sony in 2014.
This is not the first time an indie game studio has an issue with the name of a game. Remember when that little indie game studio Mojang, creator of Minecraft, was sued over the name of its game Scrolls by Bethesda, creators of the Elder Scrolls series?
What is most concerning is that, without the tweet from Murray, we probably never would have known about the drawn out legal battle between the studio and Sky. He didn’t give any more information about why Sky sought to enforce, but it would have been potentially disastrous for the game, which had about three years of promotion and goodwill based on the No Man’s Sky name, to have to change the name on the eve of launch. Though American audiences would have thought nothing of the name or a risk for potential confusion, Sky is a universal brand in the United Kingdom. It would have been the equivalent of launching a game in the United States called No Man’s Xfinity, which honestly does not sound very fun.