Most of you are probably aware that, in Japan, the Resident Evil series is known as Biohazard. And if you're like me, most of you probably never stopped to wonder why.
See, my whole life, I just presumed it was "one of those things". That Biohazard was a kind of stupid name, and Capcom just felt like changing it. Never mind the fact that, when you separate it from its lore and familiarity, "Resident Evil" is an even stupider name.
Turns out that this whole time there was a reason. If you already know this, great, but if not, Capcom's Chris Kramer explains:
In late 1994, Capcom Entertainment in the US was starting to ramp up marketing plans for the game that would eventually become known as Resident Evil in the US. Capcom Japan had let us know that the name of the game was going to be ‘Biohazard' in Japan, but I pointed out to the person who ran marketing at the time that it would be next to impossible for Capcom to register the name in the US.
As an example, I pointed out that a crappy DOS-based game had just come out in the US called ‘Biohazard' (not to mention the New York hardcore band of the same name) and that we'd never be able to secure the mark. As a result, the head of marketing held a company-wide contest to come up with a new name for the game.
The winner of that competition was, of course, Resident Evil, being a pun on the fact the first game was set in a mansion. For the record, Kramer voted against it, saying the name was "super-cheesy".
GR Asks: Why was Biohazard renamed Resident Evil? [Games Radar]