Changing the name of an already announced game mid-development can be a risky move, but some developers are forced to do so due to copyrights or trademarks by larger studios. This happened last year with No Matter Studios’ Praey for the Gods because of a dispute with Bethesda. Today, Australian indie developer Ballistic Interactive announced that it will be changing the name of its supernatural RPG Hellhunter to HellSign due to a trademark filed by Rebellion Developments, a large British developer and publisher.
Pete Skyking of Ballistic Interactive explained that the developers did consider trademarking the title towards the beginning of development, but decided not to as it is expensive and not normally something many indie games don’t do, even though they really should. Unfortunately, when they went to check on the trademark again, they noticed it had been filed by Rebellion:
“We looked into trademarks early in development. But as we were on a small indie budget, and found that many successful indie games didn’t have a trademark on launch, we decided to take the risk and instead put the money toward making a better game. Unfortunately, when we finally did decide to trademark, we found that ‘hell hunter’ had been trademarked by Rebellion. We took legal advice and were told this would be a problem.”
While they did end up having to change their title’s name, Ballistic Interactive claims that Rebellion was kind about the whole situation. Pete says he even talked to Jason Kingsley, Rebellion’s CEO, about the whole situation before the finally determined they were going to change the title of Hellhunter to HellSign:
“Given the sticky situation, Jason was awesome. He not only personally replied to us, but handled it like a boss! He was open to working something out and helping us through the situation – but unfortunately, at the end of the day, as indies operating out of our savings our only two options were to change our name, or cut content. Needless to say, we had to change the name.”
For those of you curious about the game itself, HellSign is an investigative supernatural RPG where players control a hunter who is fighting horrific creatures from the afterlife in a small town in Australia. Players have to take advantage of their knowledge as a hunter and the tools around them in order to survive. It’s a shame they can’t use the original title that fits the game’s premise, but the name HellSign still seems pretty fitting.
You can check out a brief teaser trailer and some screenshots for the game below. Even with the name change, HellSign is still currently set to release on PC later this year.