Arkane Studios is best known for producing the critically-acclaimed Dishonored series and the spin-off Wolfenstein: Young Blood. Fans and critics alike loved both of these outings. While most of us associate the studio with high-quality games that involve little to no controversy, Arkane found itself in a peculiar spot in 2017 because of a simple name change.
Arkane released a criminally underrated game in 2017, Prey. The game, although excellent by any standards, suffered from poor sales because it shared the same name as a 2006 title by Human Head Studios, which was also a critical hit. Furthermore, Bethesda made the terrible mistake of claiming that the 2017 title was a reboot of the 2006 game. The problem with this is that the only similarity that the newer first-person shooter had with the mid-2000s classic is that it pits players off against aliens.
In a recent interview with the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences, the former Arkane founder and game director Raphaël Colantonio reveals that Bethesda Softworks forced the studio to use the name Prey for its new shooter game. This would explain why Colantonio stepped down and left the studio following the release of Prey.
I did not want to call this game Prey. I had to say I wanted to anyway in front of journalists.
The reimagining of an IP
The original Prey was released to critical acclaim and was a commercial success. A planned sequel was announced shortly after the original was released. It was stuck in development hell until Bethesda Softworks acquired the rights to the IP. The sequel was officially canceled by Bethesda in 2014.
Surprisingly, Bethesda announced that a "sequel" to Prey was in development at the pre-E3 2016 press briefing. During the game’s reveal at E3 2016, Colantonio had told journalists that the new game was "a reimagining of the IP."
True to Colantonio’s statement, the released game was neither a sequel nor a reboot of the original. Peter Hines, VP for Marketing at Bethesda, noted that the game had no elements of the canceled sequel except for the premise of players fighting against aliens.
Raphaël Colantonio revealed during the interview that he was "a little at odd[s] with some of the management [regarding] the decision of calling Prey  'Prey', that was very hurtful to me." He added that the name was a "non-negotiable compromise" with Bethesda. Colantonio also mentioned that no one in the team wanted to call it Prey and the game had nothing to do with the original. He went on to say that it was a mistake to re-use the name as it would associate their shooter with the original.
Colantonio subsequently left Arkane Studios citing burnout and spending time with his son as his reasons. He did reveal that renaming Prey also was part of his reason for leaving the game studio.
Despite the controversy surrounding the name, the game received positive reviews and was ranked as one of the best games in 2017 by several gaming websites. However, Prey did not sell as well as previous titles from Arkane Studios such as Dishonored 2.
There are a lot of theories as to why the game did not sell well even if critics and audiences all had good things to say about the game. Regardless, we do know that both games were fun and it's still worth playing the game today.
As for Arkane, the studio is still doing very well. After releasing Deathloop, a timed exclusive for the PlayStation 5 that was also one of last year's GOTY contenders, it's busy working on Redfall. The co-op shooter was initially scheduled to come out later this year only for the powers that be to delay it next year alongside Starfield.