Kickstarter success story Fabulous Beasts has undergone a rebranding after Warner Bros. issued concerns that the title was too similar to its own franchise, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
According to the game’s PR manager, Alex Wiltshire, the toys-to-life start-up decided to make the changes when lengthy discussions with the movie studio over the similarities with the title of its Harry Potter spin-off failed to reach a conclusion.
After what Wiltshere has described in an open letter to the project’s many backers as a ‘lengthy and frustrating situation,’ the team has rebranded its toy-app game hybrid as Beasts of Balance, hghlighting the game’s emphasis on balancing toy animals on top of each other in order to create a new species of beast.
Warner Bros. opposed the firm’s original trademark application, citing that it was too close to its new Wizarding World movie.
"Having held many discussions with them over the past few weeks and having failed to find a way that our name can co-exist with theirs, we feel we are left with no other option than to have to change it, said Wiltshere via the project’s Kickstarter page.
"It’s a very complex situation. On the one hand, we chose the name in the belief it was sufficiently different from "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them", based on sound legal advice at the time. We have seen no evidence of confusion between our game and "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them", and our view is that even to someone just glancing at the two properties, our game, branding, theme and content are unmistakably different.
"However, we have to be realistic and prudent. We have to consider what is important to us, and fighting lengthy and expensive legal battles with a hugely well-funded and litigious company isn’t high on our list of priorities.Put really simply, we could choose to spend our time and your money defending the name, or we could do what we promised you we’d do during the campaign – make and ship the game this year.
"I’d be lying if we said we weren’t frustrated with the situation. It’s been a huge source of stress over the last couple of months. But we also see where Warner Bros is coming from. They aren’t being malicious. We just happen to be in the way of a juggernaut."
While the setback may have frustrated the game’s creators, it hasn’t stopped developments with production that is currently taking place in China, while according to Wiltshere its accompanying app is ‘getting more beautiful every day.’
First shipments of the newly titled Beasts of Balance to the game’s Kickstarter backers are expected to arrive this summer.
The creator of Beasts of Balance, Alex Fleetwood, will be speaking at this year’s Inventors Workshop as part of a panel looking at the role crowdfunding now plays in bringing toys and games to market. Click here for more information on this year’s event.