Capcom’s PS4 exclusive RPG Deep Down has been relatively quiet for quite some time now, but we may have just gotten a small sign of life from the project. Capcom filed a request to extend the time needed to file a statement of use with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, which got approved today. If you can’t recall, Deep Down was announced as one of the exclusive games coming to the PS4 when the console was initially revealed.
Development on the title and its brand new engine, Panta Rhei, continued steadily through 2013 and 2014, including a playable demo at Tokyo Game Show in 2014. The last batch of screenshots for the game came on December 25th, 2014. The last real sighting of the game came in a recruitment video featuring producer Yoshinori Ono, who promised that the project was still underway. Ono indicated that the slow down in development was due to a major concept change, and that the game was going to be more massive than originally intended.
However, the game has gone dark since that video. The only signs of life for the project are renewed trademark extension applications that get filed with the USPTO. 2016 saw the final legal trademark extension, though Capcom got around that limitation by simply registering the trademark new at the beginning of 2017, giving them a whole new set of extensions.
The way trademark law works in the States is that a name registration can be extended five times (each extension grants the holder six months of time, giving them a total of three years) before a statement of use must be provided, certifying that the trademark is being used in commerce, ie. that the game has released and is being sold. After the three year period, the trademark registration is null and the name is lost.
The request mentions that Capcom is making an ongoing effort in “product or service research or development,” implying that the project is indeed not dead. At least according to trademark law, this isn’t exactly something one can say without merit, as the statement is actually binding: it’s equivalent to “a sworn statement that the applicant intends to use the name commercially in the Unities States.”
Since this is the second extension since the new trademark was registered, the publisher has two more years to release the game before losing the name once more, meaning until June 20th, 2020.
The situation is certainly baffling, considering that it has been over three years since the latest official mention of the game by a Capcom executive. This seems to indicate that the publisher isn’t giving up on the game, but we know nothing else.
Yet, this case is not without precedent: for instance, NiOh was first announced for PS3 by Koei in 2004. Following a generational jump and a long period of silence, it was re-revealed at Tokyo Game Show 2015 and released for PS4 in 2017 to critical and fan acclaim.
So while this indicates that the game is still in some stage of development, it’s been virtually ignored by Capcom reps since 2015. This either means they hit a major development setback, are waiting on a console generation jump (the PS4 is at the end of its life cycle and the PS5 might be on the way soon), or that the development team completely reworked the project so it resembles very little of what we’ve seen already.
Regardless, Capcom has until June of 2020 to release the game. We’ll just have to wait and see if we hear more soon. After all, the convention and expo season has begun in earnest now.