Ikea’s lawyers target videogame developer over furniture store horror

A still from the trailer for The Store is Closed (Ziggy / YouTube)
A still from the trailer for The Store is Closed (Ziggy / YouTube)

Traipsing around a busy furniture store on a Sunday afternoon is its own kind of hell. But one indie game developer trying to find the horror in flat-pack has found that the scariest threats aren’t always supernatural in nature – even on Halloween.

Jacob Shaw – the UK developer of the Kickstarter success story The Store is Closed – has been hit by a cease-and-desist letter from Ikea’s lawyers, and given 10 days to “change the game and remove all indicia associated with the famous Ikea stores”.

In the letter, seen by Kotaku, the Swedish firm claims that elements of the developer’s survival horror adventure bear a striking similarity to Ikea’s familiar branding and could be harmful to the brand.

“Our client has learned that you are developing a video game, ‘The Store is Closed’ which uses, without our client’s authorisation, indicia associated with the famous IKEA stores,” the letter from New York legal firm Fross Zelnick reads.

It goes on to highlight aspects such as blue and yellow signage, grey in-store paths and familiar-looking staff uniforms, while claiming media outlets – and reader comments – have associated the game’s setting with Ikea.

“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,” the company told the Standard. “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.”

You can see the current version of the game in the official preview trailer below.

Shaw, a one-man developer who has raised just over £50,000 from more than 1,000 backers for the game on Kickstarter, now has to amend his project or face the consequences.

“I was going to spend the last week of my Kickstarter preparing an update for all the new alpha testers,” he told Kotaku. “But now I’ve got to desperately revamp the entire look of the game so I don’t get sued.”

The game traps players in a large furniture store called STYR (Ikea has a gaming chair named STYRSPEL) after hours, where things get more than a little bit unnerving. Fortunately, with plenty of flat-pack around, you don’t have to be Bear Grylls to construct a suitable shelter, provided you’re handy with an allen key and don’t mind the odd splinter.