IKEA Is Trying To Shut Down A Horror Game Before It’s Even Released

IKEA is claiming that the currently-in-development indie game The Store Is Closed is copyright infringement.

By Jason Collins | Published

We’re used to gaming giants such as Nintendo taking legal actions against gamers and indie game developers, but none of us suspected that IKEA, a well-known furniture retailer, would do the same. The company issued a cease and desist to a solo indie game creator, demanding he makes changes to The Store Is Closed, a horror survival game set in an Ikea-like store, which is currently in development. According to IKEA’s lawyers, some media outlets have drawn comparisons between the brand and the in-game settings, which constitutes copyright infringement.

According to Kotaku, The Store Is Closed is an unreleased co-op survival game in the final stages of its Kickstarter campaign that raised nearly $50,000. The game itself is made by a lone developer — a one-person game development studio — and its narrative unfolds in an infinite furniture store.

As a survival horror game, The Store is Closed will allow players to craft weapons, build fortifications, and make additional efforts to survive being closed in the store overnight. Additionally, gamers will have the opportunity to explore underground labs and build stuff within the story, trying to find their way out.

Interestingly enough, the game, the campaign, its promotional material, or any material found on digital storefronts doesn’t actually contain the word “IKEA.” Furthermore, the game still hasn’t entered sale, which would actually prompt any legal charges. That didn’t stop IKEA’s lawyers from writing to a lone developer, demanding that he changes all indicia associated with the IKEA brand, as those are used without their client’s permission. And we approve, some things need to change, like the tongue-breaking names of its furniture.

The cease-and-desist letter issued to The Store is Closed developer states that he used a blue and yellow sign with a Scandinavian name on the store, shirts that are identical to those worn by IKEA staff, and furniture that looks like IKEA furniture. This would all imply that the game is taking place in an IKEA store, and admittedly, it does seem that way, judging by the project’s pictures.

However, as Kotaku’s report states, those elements fade as soon as you start playing the game, and there’s very little resemblance between in-game elements and IKEA branding.

In-face, the in-game content is devoid of any branding; the in-game store is named “STYR,” which is an obvious wordplay spelling of the term “store” and, coincidentally, a Swedish word for control. Given the setting of the game, that name might be appropriate. “IKEA,” on the other hand, isn’t a Swedish word, and as for the furniture, the developer has stated that the models and textures were generic furniture sets he acquired for the game — and thus, it can be featured in any game for a small fee towards its creator.

So, it would seem that IKEA’s infringement argument hinges on the fact that the media made associations between the brand and the game, which isn’t actually grounds for legal action, especially since the game maker hasn’t made any profit from the game. The current situation regarding The Store is Closed is unknown; the developer was given ten working days to remove any resemblance to the IKEA brand, regardless of whether it goes on sale or not.