UPDATE 17/9/20: Ubisoft has stuck to its guns on Gods and Monsters' name change being the result of a creative decision, despite the legal challenge by Monster Energy.
As reported earlier this week, court filings show the energy drink maker contested Ubisoft's use of the Gods and Monsters moniker earlier this year, though the matter never reached court. Shortly after, Ubisoft confirmed the game would be getting a new name for its final release.
Here's Ubisoft's statement in full:
"The name change for Immortals Fenyx Rising reflects a creative decision and is not a result of legal matters," a spokesperson told Eurogamer. "As stated in the past, the extra development time allowed us to push our initial vision even further and explore new avenues for the game. As this vision was coming to life and developing a more mature tone, we felt the game needed a new name to better reflect those changes."
ORIGINAL STORY 15/9/20: Ubisoft's trademark application for Gods and Monsters was contested by Monster Energy, legal documentation has revealed. The Ancient Greece-set RPG was re-announced last week with a new title, Immortals: Fenyx Rising, though at the time Ubisoft told Eurogamer the reason for the name change was a creative one.
Monster Energy's legal challenge was covered last night by the Hoeg Law YouTube channel, after a tip off to the story from a TechRaptor report last week. That report stated Gods and Monsters was in a trademark fight with Monster Energy - and highlighted how Ubisoft's June 2019 trademark for Gods and Monsters was hit by an opposition filing in April 2020 from the energy drink company.
In the below video, lawyer Richard Hoeg uncovers Ubisoft having responded to Monster's opposition in May, a month later, and then points to this Eurogamer article published in June in which developer Ubisoft Quebec then confirms the game's name was being changed.
Monster Energy's opposition is based around the potential for trademark confusion. It points out how its Monster branding is used within the video game sphere - on gaming clothes and accessories, as a sponsor of esports events, and even on an actual video game (Monster Energy Supercross: The Official Video Game). Ubisoft's subsequent rebuttal denies any potential confusion points out that several hundred other uses of the word "monster" are currently live trademarks.
Hoeg's video is well worth a watch if you want a straightforward breakdown of how trademark law works, and to hear his personal opinion on what might have transpired if the case had continued. In his view, Ubisoft would probably have been able to defeat the opposition - but it would take time and money to do so without a cast-iron guarantee of success, and that simply renaming the game to ensure a smoother launch was likely decided an easier option.
Eurogamer went hands-on with the rebranded Gods and Monsters earlier this month, and I spoke to its game director Scott Phillips at the same time. I asked if the name change had been prompted by a legal issue, but was told no - as far as he knew, it was a creative decision.
"Once we got to the end of 2019 and we were told we'd have more time on the game, the directors and entire team took some time and played the game, looked at what we had at that point - on the narrative, visuals, gameplay - and re-evaluated what we'd do with that extra time," Phillips said. "The more time you get on something, you can really refine an idea and make it the best version of itself. And that's where, as we were developing this and iterating on the narrative, we realised it was really about Fenyx's journey with the gods, the immortals. We really wanted to focus on that, and that's where the title change comes from."
Eurogamer has contacted Ubisoft for comment.