Prey (2017) is a very good game, one of my favorites from that year in fact. Yet its name always seemed…weird. It has no connection to the 2006 Prey or its never-released sequel. Now, in a new interview, the director of the game has explained how Bethesda assigned the name Prey to the game and how he felt it was a “mistake.” He believes that the name was a bad marketing decision and one which may have doomed the game to fail.
Colantonio was the founder of Arkane Studios and also the writer and director behind 2017’s best immersive sim, Prey. Set on a derelict space station filled with shapeshifting aliens, the first-person shooter mixed puzzles, exploration, and narrative together into a beautiful mix that only sort of goes completely off the rails in the last few hours. While it was a great game (with great DLC, too) it had nothing at all in common with the 2006 Prey, which involved Native Americans and was developed by Human Head Studios.
Colantonio left Arkane shortly after Prey 2017 was released, and since then he’s made mention of how he didn’t want to use the Prey title for Arkane’s game. And now, while appearing on the AIAS Game Maker’s Notebook podcast he’s revealed even more details about the situation and his frustration with the name that he claims was forced onto the studio, saying he was “at odds” with Bethesda.
“I did not want to call this game Prey. And I had to say I wanted to anyway in front of journalists,” he told AIAS in the podcast. “I hate to lie…It felt bad to support a message I did not want.”
Colantonio continued, saying that it wasn’t just him that felt this way but that he claims many others at Arkane felt the same way, too. And while he was “grateful” that a company gave him the means and time to make a game and “trusted” him to make something like Prey, he was still frustrated by the name.
“Our game had nothing to do with Prey,” said Colantonio. “There is a bit of the artistic/creative side that is insulted when you tell [an] artist ‘You know your game? It’s going to be called Prey.’ And you go like, ‘I don’t think it should. I think it’s a mistake.’”
Colantonio then said that he believed calling it Prey was a “sales mistake” because choosing that name “backfired” as Prey fans weren’t happy and the people who didn’t like the original, unrelated Prey didn’t even “look for [the] game.”
As for the original Prey and the team behind that game, Colantonio felt bad that they had used that name and IP, feeling like it was a “kick in the face” to the devs behind 2006’s Prey. “I wanted to apologize to them many, many times,” said Colantonio. “I didn’t really have a chance because I don’t really know those people. It was never our intention to ‘steal their IP’ and make it ours. It’s gross and that’s not what I wanted to do.”
According to the former Arkane director, this situation with Prey and how Bethesda forced the name on the team was a big reason for his departure from the studio in 2017. He has since gone on to found a new team, WolfEye Studios, which recently released Weird West.
This isn’t the first time Colantonio has spoken about his issues with Bethesda over Prey. Last week, he spoke to MinnMax and explained that he was “bummed” that Bethesda forced the team to use the name. And before that, he further claimed that the choice was out of his and the studio’s hands.
Now, his goal with his new studio is to do things differently than they’re done in the more corporate publishing system he was a part of for so long, and to “stay independent for real” while making smaller games without the pressure of multi-million dollar corporations breathing down their necks.
Update, 9/2/2, 12:05 a.m. ET: This article and its headline have been updated to more accurately reflect what Colantonio said about using the Prey name.