This Is The End: 3D Realms Closure Confirmed

By Alec Meer on May 7th, 2009 at 11:27 am.

Just a quick follow-up to last night’s nega-gossip that the Duke Nukem developer had gone the way of all flesh…. 3D Realms staffer Joe Siegler popped up on the official forums with a terse confirmation: “It’s not a marketing thing. It’s true. I have nothing further to say at this time.” Aw. Good luck to all who once sailed in the good ship 3DR.

However, the Duke Nukem Forever saga may not yet be over after all. While its long-suffering de facto publisher 2K Games has confirmed they’re no longer funding the game’s development, they also pointed out that they still retain publishing rights to it. So it’s possible they’ll either snuffle up 3DR’s work in progress, or, depending on what the contract with 3DR allows, simply hand the license to one of their internal studios instead. Maybe even to an externally contracted studio, but surely no-one with any choice in the matter would want to jump into 3DR’s grave so.

Of course, it’s also more than likely that 3DR’s biggest wigs will set up shop under a new banner, or be snaffled up by other developers, as with Bill Roper and Cryptic after the sinking of Flagship. It’s highly unlikely we’ve heard the last of George Broussard and Scott Miller, after all…

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102 Comments »

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  1. Eamo says:

    While it is always sad to see a games company go under I don’t think anyone can argue that the company appears to have been horribly mismanaged for a long time so it is sad without really being surprising.

    Many of the staff are now in a tricky position, the industry as a whole doesn’t look kindly on long, drawn out development projects that produce nothing, many of them can’t point to any shipped game in a long time. The team leaders from that environment will be avoided like the plague by other companies at the very least. If you can’t set and achieve milestones and get a game to shipping condition then you don’t make a great employee, you are just a very expensive hobby coder. Companies won’t pay people to fart about and play with new technology for year after year.

    As for Duke Nukem, it was a great game, some of the most fun and innovative weapons, enemies and locations that have ever been seen in games. The character himself however was a total ripoff, every memorable line of dialog was stolen wholesale from either They Live or the Evil Dead movies. It always bugged me that they got so heavily rewarded for pretty heavily plagiarising some of my favourite movies. Maybe the reason we never saw a sequel is because ther hasn’t been any new Evil Dead movies to steal dialog from?

  2. Deadend says:

    I gotta agree with Chaz here.

    I just don’t get how the DNF mess happened? Was it that 3Drealms had too small of a team the whole time so that creating assets was so slow that by the time the game was half done it was horrible obsolete including game design as well?

    I feel bad for all the people who poured years into the game with nothing to show for it. It’s just crazy that all of a sudden, the studio is dead and gone in a heartbeat.

  3. fenrif says:

    They really dont make games like those any more. Was I the only one who held out hope that when DNF was released it would lead the way back to the fun-based gameplay focused games of the 90’s?

    Im 24, so I’ve been looking forward to this game for well over half my life, there is a whole new generation of gamers who were born after it started development. It’s like the end of an era.

  4. El_MUERkO says:

    Alec how could you take my ‘But Seriously’ comment serious, I willed people to die with my mind?!

    As for people losing their jobs, 13 years with nothing to show for it? They should be grateful they got away with it for so long and we’re supposed to mourn their passing?!

    Don’t get me wrong, every time an indie dev dies I shed a tear, I’ve bought games I don’t have time to play just to support some better developers but 3Drealms made their bed, they’ve been making it for a 3rd of my life and I cant feel sorry for them.

  5. MetalCircus says:

    This is such a massive shame. I loved (and still do, a lot) Duke 3D. 3D realms really did make some great games even if Duke Nukem Forver… DNF.

    Prey wasn’t bad at all and the Max Payne games were classics. What a damn shame.

  6. blobulon says:

    Though I appreciate the gravity of 3DR’s employees finding themselves unemployed, somehow this announcement relieves me that a developer, which has shown itself to not have any true vision other than swinging around the property name and some previous gen art assets, has been shown the door.

    You would think that after 13 years of development they would have created a game that had awesomeness (and polish) on par with that feeling you had booting up WoW for the first time.

  7. jonfitt says:

    Oh, that’s sad for the people involved, but I guess the never ending development cycle was bound to catch up with them eventually.

    Personally, I’d like to see all the milestone DNF builds from over the years that we never saw and the concept art put together as some sort of semi-playable retrospective game.
    It could be quite the art piece if done right.

  8. Schadenfreude says:

    Incidentally, when Heartbreak Ridge came out (different reference to above) I’m sure few people thought Clint would one day be a respectable, popular best picture/director winner.

    Jumping to Eastwood’s defense even though at 78 he could still kick all our asses.

    Clint may not have won the Oscar until Unforgiven but he was certainly respectable and popular. Never mind the huge success of the Man With No Name Trilogy or Dirty Harry (Or him being Mayor of Carmel) the critics loved him for the likes of Play Misty For Me and The Outlaw Josey Wales and two years after Heartbreak Ridge, Bird won plenty of awards worldwide; the only surprising thing about him winning those Oscars is that it took him so long.

    And going back on topic I never really liked Duke Nukem to begin with. Mainly ’cause most of his “character” was quoting popular movies and I was sick of people in the playground quoting them back at me thinking they were Duke originals. Not a one of the bastards had ever seen Evil Dead 2 or They Live; it was criminal.

  9. Theory says:

    Did Not Finish.

  10. LionsPhil says:

    “No doubt we will see a Prey-style resurrection, although whether it retains the content or assets is doubtful. The brand is still too strong to just let it die.”

    Unfortunately true—it’s not as if Prey’s reappearance seemed particularly true to the original game; especially in terms of engine technology.

    The annoying thing is that the best DNF “assets” were already ditched some time over a year ago. Smooth out the 8-year-old polycounts, and that 2001 trailer is still awesome.

    Dumping DNF on the community probably can’t happen. Unless they made another engine change, they were Unreal licensees. The “heavily modified” Unreal engine would be both a fundamental part of it being DNF (whatever state that may be), and is also something Epic are not going to let them hand out under a suitably liberal license for the community to do anything with (because it’s Epic’s meal ticket).

    Dumping their back catalogue into the world would be more likely, and probably more appreciated. They did actually do a bunch of sourcecode releases a while ago (perhaps sensing that the end was nigh) but, as usual, left people to go fishing for budget copies to get the art/data half.

    [Edit — Yay, editing is back! Happy dance.]

  11. Dracko says:

    http://twitter.com/georgeb3dr

    Great. Lightening or wind took out our DirectTV dish this morning. Gonna be a long, long week.
    6:48 PM Apr 27th from web

    Poker was ridiculous. Offering 10:1 odds on guessing a number 1-10, for up to $200 a pop was crazy. I won silly money being a luckbox.
    1:08 AM Apr 22nd from TwitterFon

    We’re catering BBQ tomorrow for the team at work. I’m hungry now just thinking about it. Now I have to sleep, thinking about it. Crap.
    10:59 PM Apr 16th from web

    Poker was successful. Again.
    7:55 PM Apr 11th from TwitterFon

    Poker, yay!
    4:14 PM Apr 11th from TwitterFon

    Playing ‘Blocked’ on iPhone and I just yelled ‘fuck you level 40!!!’. Fun game.
    8:53 PM Mar 25th from TwitterFon

    Weekly poker night. It’s like free money, pizza and game gossip.
    5:06 PM Mar 17th from TwitterFon

    That movie was awesome.
    9:33 PM Mar 16th from TwitterFon

    Resident Evil 5 is awesome so far. Amazing art direction and production values. Doing some laundry real fast, then getting back to it.
    3:31 PM Mar 15th from web

    Sony should fire whoever thought of the demo marketing tactic for Killzone 2. http://www.shacknews.com/on
    10:08 PM Feb 2nd from web

  12. dhex says:

    dnf should rightly live on in the mythosphere.

    Jesus let this game die already. Cigar chomping macho man kicking alien ass? Hasn’t this been done to death at great tedious length, and is still being done to death by epic?
    Does the world really need a duke nukem game?

    i mean this with the greatest love and respect, but as the developer of bladerunner-esque simulacra i would think your conception of gaming “needs” would be so broad as to be nearly endless.

  13. Azazel says:

    I absolutely would have bought this game had it ever been released. I mean… how could anyone not. Even if it sucked, you would still pretty much have to buy it.

  14. N-Al says:

    @ Eamo:

    Maybe 3DR was hoping ‘Drag Me To Hell’ would provide new dialog to steal from, but they didn’t manage to last long enough until its release… ;-)

  15. Orlin says:

    I was actually looking forward to playing DNF this year or next or… whenever. There was something oddly comforting in knowing that somewhere 3DRealms were still working on it. Now with them gone it feels like part of an era has ended. I wish the people who lost their jobs the best of luck.

  16. ChampionHyena says:

    SON OF A BITCH.

    Thank you, Alec, for deleting all the childish bullcrap. I don’t imagine it’s something I can handle on top of all this.

    Yes, I was looking forward to Duke Nukem Forever. A lot. Duke Nukem 3D was a powerfully formative part of my young adulthood, as I’m imagining it was for many. Knowing I’m never going to see DNF as it was originally intended is agonizing.

    And yet… I’d always sort of secretly wondered what would happen if the Duke IP were set free. Pawned off to another studio that has some… well… better scheduling habits. Weird as it is, I had too much confidence in 3DRealms to imagine that DNF WASN’T going to be a spectacular game. Decade-long expectations be damned.

    Still. As vitriolic as some of these comments have been, there’s a thread of truth to them. You can’t spend 13 years working on a game and hope to stay afloat. I doubt even Valve, kings of the release delay, could pull that off.

    So: the 3DRealms folks lose their jobs, and that’s infuriating. There’s talent in that group, though, and I have to imagine that someone wants to carefully pick up the pieces after this. Not just with the staff, but with the intellectual property, too. Unlike the vast majority of our faithful Angry Internet Men, I thought Fallout moving to Bethesda worked beautifully for the most part. Will we see something like that?

    There’s definitely a market for Duke, and not just with name recognition. You might argue that the whole bad-ass-foulmouthed-musclebound-dude-fighting-evil-space-aliens angle is played out, but not the way that Duke does it. Gears of War, as I’ve heard cited, is trying to be totally serious and ends up laughable. Duke, meanwhile, was funny.. Still is, if you can forgive some of the 90s pop culture references. Here’s something that’s been sorely missing in games. Mindless childish violent FUN. A place where the one-liners don’t feel painfully out of place, where you don’t have to explain the why of anything. Hell, even Painkiller, a game renowned for its mindless violence, had it’s head straight up its own ass with some ponderous and malformed pseudonarrative about a war between Heaven and Hell.

    There’s gotta be a studio out there that knows what to do with Duke.

    …what’s Croteam doing nowadays?

  17. Tei says:

    We are weak, so we don’t deserve another Duke Nukem game. So is just justice If we don’t get one. If only, because self-censoring political correctness, Duke is imposible.

  18. O.DOGG says:

    I was actually looking forward to playing DNF this year or next or… whenever. It was comforting to know that somewhere 3DRealms were still working on it. Now with them gone it feels like part of an era has ended. I wish the people who lost their jobs the best of luck.

  19. Ziv says:

    @ChaosSmurf: “So the Bioshock guys could end up doing DNF? That’s pretty awesome >.>”
    EXACTLY what I thought, 2K has many great studios and I really hope they give the game to one of them.

  20. LionsPhil says:

    Hyena: AFAICT, slowly bleeding out while working on Serious Sam 3 and generic “modern warfare” after the stuff-up which was SS2.

    Which is a damn shame, as the Serious engine is an amazing piece of work, and the first Sam is still a brilliant piece of co-op sillyness. Also: running around on the inside of a sphere with “correct” floor-oriented gravity.

    [Edit: Oh dear. I was going to make a “Serious Sam Forever” joke, but I’ve been thoroughly beaten to the punch. Those cads.]

  21. AndrewC says:

    Oh for the insider gossip on this.

  22. Stupoider says:

    Aw. :( Not good seeing legends of gaming kick the bucket.

    Ah well. I had a gut feeling that Duke Nukem Forever was going to disappoint…

  23. Dracko says:

    I would rather the BioShock folk not touch Duke Nukem ever. Or any other game for that matter.

    P.S. http://gamingisstupid.com/2009/05/06/the-chair-story-revival/

  24. Jeremy says:

    I can’t say I’m really disappointed, I stopped caring about DNF before it actually even began. I never really had a great love for it and at the time it came out I was head over heels for RPGs of every kind. However, it is sad that the company is closing, it represented a certain presence and love for video games. I kinda hope the franchise just gets dropped completely, I can’t imagine it will recover from it’s 12 year fiasco and actually produce something that even comes close to its expectations.

  25. suibhne says:

    Not intending to pile on here, but I continue to be surprised when people claim that the Duke brand is still strong. Really? I mean, I can see it exercising some powerfully nostalgic mojo for those of us gamers who came of age in the mid ’90s…but the market has only, what, hojilliontupled in size since then? I’m not suggesting that Duke as a character, done right, couldn’t still have a lot of appeal in this day and age, but I don’t see him entering the market with a huge pre-existing fanbase. And I hope people can at least acknowledge that all the forward-looking stuff about DN3D was forward-looking only in the context of 1996, and that there’s no guarantee – or even much indication – that 3DRealms could continue that legacy of innovation in 2008, 2009, or whenever the game might eventually have seen the light of day.

    I’m sad to see this happen, but I’m not sure we’ve really lost anything in the end. There’s just no way to know.

    And seriously, what’s up with that chair story? It may have a kernel of truth, or even a whole boatload of kernels, but it’s still ridiculous.

  26. Mejwell says:

    While unfortunate for the employees, this is hardly unexpected.

  27. Tei says:

    This crysis will be longer than 10 years, and will change everything to know. Maybe is a good thing to byte the dust first, since you will be the one that raise up first too.

  28. dan- says:

    The publisher isn’t 2K Games. It’s Take-Two.

    EDIT: Ignore me, I’ve just read 2K Games is a subsidiary of Take-Two. Damn you confusing publishers!

    I’m sorry I doubted you RPS. :(

  29. hitnrun says:

    @suibhne: I don’t see any reason why he wouldn’t still have appeal. He’s still referenced and recognized in pop culture way out of proportion to the number of people who must have actually played Duke games in the 90s. I can’t see why a foul-mouthed, humorous, catch-phrase-spouting icon of macho game heroes wouldn’t do well in 2009. In fact, there are so many big franchises now that play into the Duke brand of parody, I think he could do even better. Although you’re right that DNF itself, as a project, is very unlikely to have been of particular technical value to the medium were it actually released.

    But as I said in a comment that was apparently deleted, there’s no excuse as a business for not being able to sell Duke.

  30. Kytec says:

    Funny, if they put up a site with a paypal link that said “donate to get DNF up and running” i bet they’d have a million in no tome.

  31. LionsPhil says:

    I think it’s a testiment to 3DR’s reputation as a bunch of incompetents in more recent years decades that so far not a single commentary I’ve seen has blamed their downfall on rampant piracy.

    And Duke3D didn’t even have any DRM!

  32. ruaidhri k says:

    this feels like a keyboard cat moment
    for example

  33. Taillefer says:

    Duke shall live on, but as a spectre, a boogey-man of the industry. “Don’t miss your deadlines or Duke’ll get you!”, They’ll say.

    I feel sorry for the employees in their next job, though. “Hey, could you just do this for me, but, uh, if you could actually finish it within the next ten years. Thanks”

    Yes. What a shame.

  34. Erlam says:

    “I’m somewhat suprised they lasted this long toiling on an outdated character whose fanbase have long moved on to better things. ”

    Oh man, I would kill for the over-the-top humour of Duke Nukem these days. I am so sick and fucking tired of “Johnny American must save THE ENTIRE WORLD from the clutches of the .” Fuck this gray-brown world we’ve been in since, what, quake 1? Come on people, Duke did it, step up.

    And why the hell is everyone saying things like ‘good’ and ‘about time’? You think those coders/QA/Artists/etc decided the company should take this route? Wake the fuck up and get off your high horse.

  35. Hulk Hogan says:

    I’m going to find another dude’s commode to park my bricks. Because I got kicked out of my house – Duke Nukem

    I believe the reason Duke Nukem 3D seemed like the best thing ever when I was a kid was because it had tits, blood, and swearing and I was really shallow back then.

    Duke stole lines from Bruce Campbell too. So fuck ‘em. No one steals from Ash.

    DUKE IF YOU WERE REAL HULK HOGAN WOULD BREAK EVERY BONE IN YOUR STEROID ABUSING BODY!

  36. EBass says:

    While were on the subject I recently found Serious Sam 2 in a bargain bin and having loved the first one I played it through.

    The serious engine is indeed a serious piece of work. It still looks pretty ages on and its an amazingly fun game to play. Hopefully SS3 will see the light of day.

  37. Irish Al says:

    One thing that annoys me about this is people saying that it was the most hyped game ever.

    3D Realms or Take 2 barely ever mentioned DNF and there was a screen-shot every 5 years or whatever. How is that hype, exactly?

    What happens in the 2 months leading up to a GTA release – that’s hype.

  38. Penalty of Heroes says:

    So sad :( I really hoped that it was a joke or a PR stunt. 3dr is one of the reasons why I started making games.

  39. Vexor says:

    Who knows how well DNF would be in today’s market. Firstly, as was pointed out, it would likely never meet our expectations. Secondly, most of todays teens probably don’t even remember, or have never played the original Duke games.

    Best of luck to all the 3DR peoples.

  40. Serondal says:

    This is kind of sad. I think they should have just let the dang game go and develop something else. I can’t understand why it took so long but at a certain point you’ve got to cut things loose if they’re not going ever make you any money. I guess they never learned that lesson, kept wasting money on DNF, and then finally just ran out of time/money. What publisher in their right mind when ever get behind a project like this O.o Valve can do stuff like this because valve is dev/publisher, they can take forever to make half life 2 and still make money on it cause they a dev and publisher both and they know there is no hype like 10 year hype :P

  41. Angel Dust says:

    If Take 2 decide to and are in a position to finish DNF I think the best team for the job would be Rockstar North. Of course they most likely have their hands full with the next GTA so maybe one of the others like Toronoto or Vancouver.

  42. Ian says:

    @ LionsPhil: Au contraire, Duke Nukem Forever had DRM so stringent you weren’t even allowed to BUY the same thing in case you lent it to a friend.

  43. Serondal says:

    Duke Nukem Forever has DRM so stringent you can’t even buy it at all, the DVD doesn’t even exist ! Try and pirate it now assholes! MWUAHAHAHA

  44. Schott says:

    YESSS!
    Finally.

    EDIT:
    Of course, I didn’t have anything invested in this emotionally, so I’m biased.

  45. LionsPhil says:

    Duke Nukem Forever has DRM so stringent that I’m currently in witness protection for thinking about possibly installing it on more than one of my computers. If George Broussard ever determines my true identity, his eldrich powers will seep across the world and annihilate my very soul.

    Oh God, I can hear Cultists of Apogee outside. I may not have much ti-

  46. Martin K says:

    At one point, my take on DNF was: “I like to believe the whole thing was and is, by and large, a fraud and a massive, world-endingly colossal con-job based on the ‘we just need more time, and yet another influx of venture capital’ principle of proliferating and keeping afloat your fraud of choice (most fraudulent R&D scams seem to function in a similar manner). I have completely unfounded doubts as to how long the assets on show took to create, and at what point they actually took a break from playing epic-length foosball matches to start work on the last-demonstrated (that is to say, current) iteration of the game.”

    The problem with that viewpoint is that the evidence doesn’t necessarily stack up in my favour, and more’s the pity, too. There were at least two, possibly three builds of the game, and people saw them and played them, and it seemed, for a brief moment, as if this current iteration of the game might even see the light of day.

    There is, still, however, no way I can even begin to comprehend what took them so long. Not even the oft-used ‘multiple engine changes’ excuse gets them completely off the hook.

    I still don’t understand why anybody continued to give them money. If and when the budget for DNF is totalled, I feel fairly certain it’ll equate to some significant fraction of the GDP of a small African republic, and could easily have, for instance, improved the lives of any number of world citizens instead of being spent on this ridiculous, mind-numbing farce.

    That the people at 3DR were by and large, so far as I could tell from interviews and their interactions on their forums, fine guys and gals who are now potentially out of a job, is a travesty, but it still doesn’t explain where the money went or what in the name of all that is good and sanctified it bought them.

  47. The Fanciest of Pants says:

    RIP 3dr. They deserve a better legacy then to be remembered for what they didn’t do.

    Best to forget about DNF and remember the classics. At least until it’s back in development.

  48. LionsPhil says:

    @Martin: I am reasonably sure that the only people funding DNF were 3DR themselves. This is presumably how they managed to go bankrupt despite past glories, and the presumably lucrative recent porting of said past glories onto every mobile device under the sun.