It may already have been out for several months, but after a trademark dispute Battlestation: Harbinger from Finnish developer Bugbyte has been required to rename its space-based rougelike. The new title has yet to be officially confirmed but, according to their own forums, it appears it will be Battlevoid: Harbinger.
In early July, initial news of the trademark problem was announced on the Bugbyte forums, their social media outlets and the Steam page for Battlestation: Harbinger, but strangely not on Kickstarter itself. It’s not clear which other developer raised the trademark issue with the word ‘battlestation’ but luckily there was no threat of legal action as long as Bugbyte renamed all the games in their Battlestation series within three weeks.
Members on the Bugbyte forums were invited to suggest possible alternatives which actually attracted some nominations that are a good deal more memorable than Battlestation (I would have loved for it have been Spacey McSpaceBase or Admiral Spacepants) but in the end it was a series of similarly generic titles that members were prompted to vote for. The second voting round options consisted of Astroverse (which had survived from the first round of voting), Battlevoid, Havocspace, Vividpace and Voidbattles.
What I find fascinating about this whole situation is the fact Bugbyte have a whole series of Battlestation games and have been developing them for some time (Battlestation: Humanity’s Last Hope was a failed Kickstarter way back in 2014) yet had never checked into the validity of their own game title. In fact their announcements on the issue included this frankly incredible admission:
“We did not know the rules of how trademarks works, we were just excited to create games and came up with a name that we thought was fitting for the series. You live and you learn.”
You live and learn indeed. Maybe Kickstarter should look into making sure all new projects are given some basic trademarking and legal advice going forwards! In any case, a new update for Battlestation: Harbinger looks set to be introduced next week which will activate the name change and also introduce a number of bonus ships for players to try out – including one called the BSE Trademark in memory of this event.
(Update August 15 2016 : As of August 1st the new name of Battlevoid: Harbinger was officially confirmed, along with changes to Bugbyte’s two previous titles, now known as Battlevoid: Classic and Battlevoid: First Contact.)