Ikea sues indie game developer over survival horror game set in furniture store
Ikea is known for many things: cost-conscious furniture, affordable Swedish food, and (now) suing independent game developers for using a storefront similar to their own.
The Swedish-based furniture company has sued Jacob Shaw, an independent game developer in the United Kingdom. Ikea has demanded that Shaw make changes to his unreleased survival horror game The Store is Closed.
The game, which is available for pre-order on Kickstarter, is a crafting and survival game based in a furniture store that bears a striking resemblance to Ikea. Although the interior of the store (where the bulk of the game takes place) appears to be a generic furniture store and uses generic assets (according to Shaw), there are some definite calls to the popular furniture brand.
For one, the store front (which is featured in the teaser trailer) bears a Swedish name, "Styr," in the same blue and yellow color scheme as Ikea's retail locations. Many of the enemies in the game wear yellow striped shirts, which are similar to the uniform of Ikea employees. Price tags displayed in catalogs in the game also look similar to Ikea's.
In a letter to Shaw, Ikea's lawyers also claim the game contains "a gray path on the floor, furniture that looks like Ikea furniture, and product signage that looks like Ikea signage." The suit gives Shaw 10 days to make all changes listed in the filing or further action will be taken.
Shaw has stated he will comply with the request and make the necessary changes.
Many have concluded that the game may be less inspired by the horrors of shopping for flat-packed furniture and more so by a piece of horror fiction. One of the entries in the SCP Foundation Wiki, a robust repository of horror-themed short stories about anomalous objects, is SCP-3008, which describes an Ikea store that appears normal from the outside but is actually a never-ending maze from which there is no escape. Inside the ethereal store are faceless employees that wander the aisles like zombies, hunting for trapped customers to inform them that the store is closed before tearing them limb from limb.
What's curious is that Ikea seemingly has no issue with this short story, as it has been up on the SCP Wiki for years. The key distinction is that the SCP entry is a piece of satire with no monetization attached to it, while Shaw's game is a saleable product.
For its part, Ikea only wants Shaw to change The Store is Closed by removing bits that imply the company's brand. In a statement to Kotaku, the company said:
While we think it’s flattering that others are inspired by the Ikea brand, we must be diligent to ensure that the Ikea trademarks and trade dress are not misapplied. Various elements of the video game currently correspond in appearance with the Ikea brand features. We’ve reached out to the creator of the video and asked them to make changes to those elements to ensure that this is no longer the case. They expressed that they understand our request and agreed to make those changes. This should all be well in time for the expected 2024 launch of the game.