Surprisingly, EA gets rather testy about other companies using the word “Battlefield” in their game titles.
UK Publisher Slitherine has learned a rather painful lesson: When you’re putting out a game, be sure that its title doesn’t sound too much like a major game that’s published by an equally major company. For Slitherine, its Battlefield Academy title caused the publisher a ton of legal problems that resulted in some major financial losses, unsurprisingly because Electronic Arts felt that the game’s name was way too similar to its Battlefield franchise.
Slitherine originally got involved with the game after it secured a licensing deal with the BBC History department. Battlefield Academy was a casual strategy game that was based on a flash game. It turned out to be a pretty reasonable hit, which is when all the problems began.
According to Marco Minoli, Sliterine’s marketing director:
“It was a big success for us, it was an approachable war game that found an audience outside of our niche gaming fans. We were just about to announce the first add-on when we received a letter from EA’s lawyers and at first we laughed.
“We were caught in the middle because it was a BBC brand. They’ve been really helpful but the BBC wasn’t prepared to start at fight with EA for a minor wargame. But we couldn’t change the name because it was a licence we acquired.”
Because EA claimed the game was infringing on its copyright, Slitherine had to put expansions and console ports of the title on hold. The PSP version was already in submission to Sony, but the legal issues put it on indefinite hold and now the publisher is trying to port it to the Vita instead.
“We decided that for purely financial reasons it was best to reach an accommodation with EA,” said Marko. “It caused a lot of problems and has been difficult, we had to rebrand the game entirely. It cost us tens of thousands of dollars and we lost a big commercial opportunity.”
The game has now been re-named BBC Battle Academy and Slitherine is trying to recapture the momentum it had before the franchise was frozen. It’s a shame that the company lost out on such a potential hit, but it also seems like someone should’ve at least considered the possibility that the name might rile some feathers over at Electronic Arts …