Creative director of sci-fi FPS Prey said he and the rest of the development team weren’t happy with the game’s title, but Bethesda insisted the game be tied to an existing IP address.
Released in 2017, Prey shares its name with a little-known FPS from 2006 developed by Human Head Studios. Although it shares few similarities with that game, it was billed as a reimagining of Prey’s intellectual property, owned by publisher Bethesda. But Arkane’s creative director and founder, Raphael Colantonio, said the name was forced on the team, who didn’t like it.
“I disagreed a bit with some of the management with the decision to call Prey ‘Prey’,” Colantonio said, speaking to the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences. “It hurt me very, very badly. I didn’t want to call this game Prey, and I had to say I wanted it anyway in front of reporters.
“I hate to lie, and it’s sales lies – it’s not a personal lie – but it was still wrong. I had to press a message that I didn’t want. Not only me, but no one in the team didn’t want to call this game Prey. Our game had nothing to do with Prey, but it was kind of like Prey  in a sense.
“I’m grateful that a company empowers me to make a game and trusts me with so many millions of dollars. But there’s a part of the artist, on the creative side, that gets insulted when you tell this artist “Your game is going to be called Prey. You go like, ‘I don’t think it should. I think it’s a mistake’.
Colantonio pointed out that the naming conflict was typical of the “corporate world” of game development. Not just a creative oversight, Prey’s name was a marketing mistake, he says. it failed to generate excitement among would-be gamers, nor sour how fans of the 2006 game might perceive the new title.
“It was also a kick in the face of the original creators of Prey,” Colantonio said. “I’ve wanted to apologize to them many, many times. It was never our intention to ‘steal their intellectual property’ and make it ours. It’s disgusting. That’s not what I wanted to do. So everyone lost, and [Prey’s] the sales were horrible.
“I hate to be right in this case, but I was right in 10 different ways that name should never have been the name of the game.”
Colantonio said the dispute partially contributed to his departure from Arkane shortly after Prey’s release. “I was like, ‘I have to go at this point,'” he said. “Because I don’t control my own boat.”
Speaking in a Noclip documentary (opens in a new tab) Last year, Colantonio said Arkane was already working on an immersive sci-fi simulation aboard a space station before the Prey IP was thrown into the mix. This preliminary design was inspired by the studio’s first release, Arx Fatalis, and, like the final game, drew on Metroidvania-style gameplay.
“None of these ideas were sort of something Bethesda wanted, but they wanted us to work on Prey,” Colantonio said. “So that’s how it all started.
“Eventually we agreed on something like: ‘As long as [we] can do almost a different IP address, but with the same fact that it is on the space station with aliens”. I guess that was the compromise because everything else was non-negotiable. This game had to be Prey somehow.”
In the same interview, designer Ricardo Bare said the game didn’t have a working title until it was called Prey. When it first started, it was internally called Project Danielle. It was a tribute to SHODAN – the AI from System Shock 2, the 1999 Irrational Games title from which Prey draws much of his inspiration.
After leaving Arkane, Colantonio co-founded WolfEye Studios, which released the immersive twin-stick sim Weird West earlier this year. An eldritch version of the American frontier, no IP address was attached to the game.