Capcom’s PS4 exclusive Deep Down is one of the biggest mysteries of this console generation, and it just gave a small sign of life once again. The publisher filed a request to extend the time to file a statement of use with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, which was approved today.
The game was introduced with great fanfare at the presentation that unveiled the PS4 to the world, together with its advanced current-generation engine Panta Rhei. A steady stream of news followed between 2013 and 2014, including a playable appearance at Tokyo Game Show. Yet, on Christmas day 2014 we got the last batch of official screenshots, and in February 2015, we saw the last glimpse of footage in a recruitment video, while Producer Yoshinori Ono promised that the project was still alive, mentioning that the game’s concept was completely changed and would become much bigger than before.
Since then, Capcom has been completely silent about the game, besides continuing to renew its trademark with the USPTO. Back in 2016, the trademark was extended for the last time allowed by law. The publisher simply got around the limitation by registering the trademark again at the beginning of 2017, granting itself a new allowance of five extensions.
According to trademark law, the registration of a name can only be extended five times before a statement of use is provided, certifying that the trademark is being used in commerce, which in this case means that the game has been released. Each extension grants six more months of leeway, for a total of three years including the original registration. After that, the name is lost.
The request mentions that Capcom is making an ongoing effort in “product or service research or development,” implying that the project is indeed not dead. At least according to trademark law, this isn’t exactly something one can say without merit, as the statement is actually binding: it’s equivalent to “a sworn statement that the applicant intends to use the name commercially in the Unities States.”
Since this is the second extension since the new trademark was registered, the publisher has two more years to release the game before losing the name once more, meaning until June 20th, 2020.
The situation is certainly baffling, considering that it has been over three years since the latest official mention of the game by a Capcom executive. This seems to indicate that the publisher isn’t giving up on the game, but we know nothing else.
Yet, this case is not without precedent: for instance, NiOh was first announced for PS3 by Koei in 2004. Following a generational jump and a long period of silence, it was re-revealed at Tokyo Game Show 2015 and released for PS4 in 2017 to critical and fan acclaim. In comparison, Deep Down‘s journey through limbo doesn’t appear unreasonably long, so I’m going to keep doing what I have until now: holding a small fragment of hope in my mind to finally see a re-reveal at every major event that goes by. E3 is coming after all, and Tokyo Game Show is just a few months down the line. What do I have to lose?