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News and Events

No Man's Sky cleared for launch

View profile for Peter Dalton
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The hype around No Man’s Sky is now reaching fever pitch, as it approaches its 9 August release date (following a delay from 21 June).  For those unaware, No Man’s Sky is a procedurally generated space exploration game in which players can explore, trade, and fight in a universe of 18 quintillion (1.8×1019) planets. Players will be free to land on unique, earth-sized planets, explore in first person and encounter (and fight, if so desired) unique wildlife and local civilisations, before jetting off into the sunset as they make their journey from the edge to the centre of the universe. It’s safe to say, I am pretty excited.

Although the delay was put down to final development and polish, another potential reason has also come to light, with Sean Murray, MD of the developer, Hello Games, tweeting that a 3 year dispute with Sky (the broadcaster) has just been settled. The dispute related to the use of the word “Sky”, with Sky presumably arguing that there was a risk of confusion between the game, and its “Sky” brand and trade marks.

Sky has a history of taking a robust approach to trade mark protection; memorably, Microsoft was forced to change the name of its web storage platform from “Skydrive “ to “Onedrive” following a lengthy dispute with Sky.

The details of the dispute, and the settlement reached, are not public; indeed, it’s surprising that Sean was allowed to tweet about the existence of the dispute at all, given the wide ranging confidentiality obligations usually inserted into settlement agreements. The most likely scenario is that a co-existence agreement of some form was reached in which Hello Games agreed not to use the word “Sky” in relation to services which might compete with Sky’s broadcast and online services.

Arguments over trade marks are commonplace in the gaming industry; for example, Atari’s opposition to an attempt by Hazy Dreams of Infinity to trade mark “Haunted House”, based on its 1982 game of the same name, King.com’s efforts to block other developers from using the term “Candy”, and Bethesda and Mojang’s spat over the word “Scrolls” (which ended with Mojang agreeing never to use the name in a game which competed with Bethesda’s “Elder Scrolls” series, and never to seek trade mark protection for the word).

In this case, I’m glad the parties were able to reach agreement and can’t wait to get my hands on this potentially ground-breaking new game.