Indie developers Xreal are making a mobile game called Fortress Fallout. They describe the game as, “a 1v1 competitive strategy game coming soon to mobile devices as a free to play title”. It features 2D graphics of castles and catapults, and doesn’t have a mutant, Radroach or nuclear bomb in sight. Be that as it may, ZeniMax Media (the parent company of Bethesda) has hit Xreal with a cease and desist notification for using the word “Fallout” in the indie game’s title.
Yes, it’s this whole US trademark law thing again. We’ve seen it most recently with King Games and their insane trademarking of the word “candy” and “saga”, which led to the whole PR nightmare between them and the indie team behind The Banner Saga.
ZeniMax is no stranger to trademark disputes and even had a spat with Mojang over the card game Scrolls. In fact, ZeniMax’s notoriety regarding trademarks is so great that Xreal’s lawyer basically said to the Fortress Fallout indie team to change the game’s name and move on, because ZeniMax has mountains of money and time, and will go for the jugular on this one.
The thing is, ZeniMax needs to go for the jugular as awful as that sounds. It’s all to do with the US laws on trademarks and patents. If ZeniMax didn’t tell Xreal to change the name of Fortress Fallout, then they would be allowing a precedent to creep in, which would make it near impossible for them to combat any potential future clones of Bethesda games.
Some online comments have pointed out that it’s also likely that Xreal named their game Fortress Fallout on purpose, essentially bating ZeniMax to hit them with a cease and desist in order to garner some free press for their game. Man, that’s a pessimistic way of looking at this, but what do you know, look at all this free press Fortress Fallout is now getting.