Take-Two Interactive owns Rockstar Games and 2K, both major video game publishers. The company’s portfolio includes multiple iconic series, from the likes of BioShock and Borderland to Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead, but Take-Two is also currently under fire for its petty legal disputes.
Eurogamer first reported that the company had forced developer Hazelight Studios to abandon its trademark of their then soon-to-be-released video game, It Takes Two. The report went on to illuminate that the publisher has aggressively sought to contest trademark claims even remotely connected to their biggest IPs, like “rockstar” and “civilization”, impacting a growing, if random, assortment of small businesses like restaurants, tattoo parlors, and even an axe-throwing company. Other games have been affected, too.
It Takes Two was developed by Josef Fares’ Hazelight Studios, the developers behind A Way Out. Fares, previously a film director, made a name for himself as a game designer after directing the critical darling Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons.
With recognizable faces and good will behind the smaller studio, gamers have seemingly rallied against the corporate bullying of Take-Two. Speedrunner DarkViperAU called the publisher “almost impressively evil.”
It has also brought out profanity in headlines and tweets, where the company was disparagingly compared to Nintendo, who keeps an infamously firm grip on the use of their IP.
The pettiness of the disputes was too much for some. “Shut up Take-Two,” commented one reporter.
The backlash is inspired by the ongoing frustration with corporations consolidating their grips on culture by trademarking ever-more-general words and phrases. Disney infamously applied to trademark the entire holiday of Día de los Muertos ahead of Pixar’s Coco, and YouTube faced a similar backlash after it tried to trademark the verb “react.”
Sounds like Take-Two needs to take five and consider whether or not their actions are worth all the backlash.