Fallout averted: trademark worry sees Vlambeer’s roguelike-like become Nuclear Throne


Wasteland 2 has been renamed Wasteland Kings. That’s not true, but is it feasible? That’s the question Brian Fargo and his staff at InXile asked themselves, before emailing Vlambeer to ask if they’d mind terribly redubbing their top-down shooter of that name. Turns out they didn’t mind, and something called Nuclear Throne is coming to Steam Early Access in Wasteland Kings’ place early next month.

Vlambeer enjoyed a big reveal of the kind they wouldn’t ordinarily be able to afford at Sony’s Gamecom event this year, and shortly afterwards received an email from a Dutch employee at InXile. Therein, InXile expressed their worry: that Wasteland Kings could be confused for a title in the Wasteland series they were in the process of rebooting.

Both games share a post-apocalyptic setting, and American trademark law is such that InXile stand to lose their trademark if they don’t follow up potential infringements. Vlambeer, for their part, don’t seem particularly ruffled.

“Although we aren’t sure Wasteland Kings and Wasteland are confusing enough for this to be an issue, both us and InXile really don’t want to spend development time on arguing over trivialities,” writes Vlambeer man of words and business Rami Ismail.

“Most of all, we appreciate that the first contact between us was by a normal employee, and not a lawyer. There was no extravagant Cease & Desist-letter, nor a threatening letter in an envelope labelled ‘URGENT’. The email we received was short, amicable and to-the-point. It was followed up by a quick conversation on Skype, in which we established that it would be the right thing for us to change the name.

“This is the way business should work nowadays: between people, not companies, not lawyers, not departments,” he went on. “There’s so much paperwork between one and another that it’s easy for people to forget that they’re dealing with people instead of numbers and dossiers. Things can be friendly, rather than formal for the sake of formality.”

I hope you’re taking notes, Bethesda. And you, Uniloc. And don’t think we’ve forgotten about you, Putt-Putt. What’s everybody got against Mojang, anyway? They’re positively cuddly.

After a 90-email internal discussion, Vlambeer settled on the more gender-inclusive Nuclear Throne and promptly announced the new title during their Eurogamer Expo demo:

“It’s a bit of a haphazard announcement,” said Ismail. “But we thought that if we’re doing open development we might just as well be open about it.”

Hear hear. Nuclear Throne will be on Steam Early Access and the Humble Store $12.99 in early October. And Vlambeer are live-streaming the majority of development, which is a bit nuts. How do you like the new name?

Thanks, RPS.