3D Realms RIP?

By John Walker on May 7th, 2009 at 1:54 am.

Go back and play the original Duke, we dares ya.

Mere minutes after we received a whispered tip from a hooded figure soothsaying the news, Shacknews are reporting that 3D Realms has closed shop. The twenty-two year old developer apparently suffered funding issues, according to Shacknews’ similarly anonymous source, and staff from the company have been let go.

One of the greats, developing games since 1986 (under the name Apogee at that point), alongside id they were the progenitors of much that makes PC gaming great.

Unfortunately, 3D Realms became more famous over the last decade for what they didn’t release, rather than anything they did. The infamously vaporous Duke Nukem Forever became an industry gag during its thirteen years of alleged development, with the company apparently scrapping and restarting the project multiple times. But while it’s fun to dig out magazines from 1997 featuring previews of the long-awaited shooter, it’s not fair to let that be 3DR’s legacy.

Only yesterday they were celebrating the 17th anniversary of Wolfenstein 3D – a game they’d published as Apogee, working alongside id in creating one of the most important PC games of all. Their own Duke Nukem 3D went on to reinvent the potential for the first-person shooter, creating destructible environments, and multiple pathways through levels. It’s still utterly playable today.

They went on to work with Remedy on both Max Payne games, and with Human Head on Prey, all the while promising that Duke Nukem Forever. New footage of DNF appeared in June last year, then new screenshots in September. But of course this had been part of a repeating pattern, with the game allegedly ditched each time a new generation of FPS engines appeared from other developers.

Who knows where DNF lies now. Rumours were always floating around that the game existed in a playable form, and potential publishers 2K may well have some ability to swoop in and rescue whatever there is. It would be a great shame if the legendary game should officially disappear so ignominiously.

Shacknews reports that this will not affect either Deep Silver nor the recently revived Apogee Software publishers, which means the DS and PSP Duke Nukem Trilogy should still go ahead. Presumably there will be much more news in the morning. Oh, and our tipster would be very upset if we didn’t point out that DNF now stands for “Did Not Finish”.

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76 Comments »

  1. Tim says:

    So does this spell the final end for Duke Nukem Forever? Dear me, so it actually happened..

  2. Brian says:

    Son of a… if nothing else, the team should release the source code for DNF to the public; if they can’t finish it, the masses will.

  3. Markoff Chaney says:

    How sad… Wolfenstein 3D was one of the first real immersive experiences I had in gaming. Duke paved the way for most future FPSes and some we have now don’t have some functionality that Duke gave us. Sad news indeed.

  4. Seb says:

    Hmm. So, having produced 3 actual games and a couple of mobile titles in the last 10 years, whilst continuing to fund a team of devs working on an unreleased title for 13 years, 3D Realms is out of cash and being closed? It tickles me that Shacknews describes this as a “shock”.

  5. Cycle says:

    I guess he didn’t find that toilet to park his bricks in.

  6. jalf says:

    Which 3 games are these? I’ll admit I haven’t paid much attention to them, but did they slip that many games past me?

  7. Larington says:

    Bloody hell. I suppose I should’ve seen it coming eventually, but after the amount of effort thats presumably gone into DNForever over the past many years…

    …Oh well, batton down the hatches folks, the Internets gonna be full of Duke Nukem Forever jokes for the next few days.

  8. rocketman71 says:

    Guess George Broussard won’t be writing scathing reviews of other *released* games anymore.

  9. Rich_P says:

    Surprised this didn’t happen sooner to be honest. DNF must’ve been a huge drain on the studio.

    Had lots of fun playing Duke Nukem back in the day.

  10. tikey says:

    I’m sure this is a move to make even more shocking the release of DNF.

  11. Vinraith says:

    Oh. Balls.

  12. LewieP says:

    I wouldn’t look forwards to trying to find a job elsewhere if all I had on my CV for the last 13 years was “Worked on DNF”.

    I hope they make everything they have done so far public domain.

  13. El Stevo says:

    The shocking thing is that they managed to go on for so long. Where were they getting their money from?

  14. Walsh says:

    Bwahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahah

  15. Nik Daum says:

    I have to second El Stevo’s comment. Where did their funding come from? If they really are closing shop it’s sad. I had a blast with Duke3d and Wolfenstein back in the day, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have gotten their ass together and made some new releases.

  16. qurio says:

    It’s not like I give a toss about DN4, no one has for the last 10 years.

    But I’m pretty sure the game isn’t dead. They’re just going to write off debts, asset strip and lay off employees. Bankruptcy is a good thing.

    Then Apogee, or Radar Group, or some other 3DRealms spin off can complete the thing and make masses of money, right?

  17. qurio says:

    They got funding from producing games like Max Payne and Prey.

    I would have thought that the Max Payne film would have given them a money shot, but maybe they didn’t have the film rights.

  18. Cedge says:

    Oh my god.

    T2 dropping out from funding, or killing their involvement as publisher, I could understand that. But it seems that they’ve not only done this, but they’re keeping the rights to the IP, and all the work that 3D Realms has done on the game. This is horrible.

    Shit. It just can’t end this way.

  19. TheLordHimself says:

    This also could be just a load of bullshit.

  20. Hulk Hogan says:

    The recession never seemed so bad until now.

    AIG YOU BETTER PRAY THAT YOUR KILLED IN ONE HIT WHEN THE HULKSTER GETS YOU!

  21. Hybrid says:

    Does this affect Prey 2 at all?

  22. fugo says:

    qurio says:

    “I would have thought that the Max Payne film would have given them a money shot, but maybe they didn’t have the film rights.”

    did you not see that piece of shit? urgh.

  23. I am beginning to understand this comment system says:

    Ah Apogee, they should have kept that name instead of 3d Realms, that name had a lot of good history behind it.

    But seriously they haven’t produced anything in 13 years. Anyone with any talent, drive or sense got out a long time ago. Meanwhile talented companies struggle to keep a float in the gaming industry. Legends like Origin, Bullfrog and Looking Glass go under, but somehow 3D Realms survived, running on nothing but hot air. Maybe it was the increasingly banal teasers, the smug attitudes of forum posts, those clandestine meetings they would have would select individuals to show off their supposedly awesome project behind closed doors, or the general disregard and disrespect they’ve shown the gaming community at large , but somewhere along the line I started to hate those guys. Honestly I’m not sad about seeing an end to the industries’ big joke.

  24. CannedLizard says:

    I wonder if this will affect Max Payne 3 at all. Hopefully not, since Rockstar Vancouver is developing….

  25. qurio says:

    fugo: shit films make pretty dollar

  26. SteveHatesYou says:

    @CannedLizard: It won’t have any effect on MP3.

    I really hope somebody finishes off DNF. I’ve waited 12 years to play it – I don’t care if it sucks! Then again, maybe releasing it would actually tarnish its legend.

  27. pilouuuu says:

    So it is Duke Nukem Never instead.

  28. Turkish Superman says:

    “Where were they getting their money from?”

    Probably residuals from previous Duke titles, plus cuts of the profits on stuff like Prey. They also got some cash from the sale of the Max Payne franchise.

    Since they were developing DNF independently, they didn’t have a publisher funding them.

  29. Frank says:

    Apogee was great, right up there with Epic Megagames. Screw the third dimension.

  30. bansama says:

    Oh man, this has now spread to here too? Come on, this reeks of publicity stunt BS right now. Especially as there is no firm evidence.

  31. lumpi says:

    Sucks.

    Yet somehow, I couldn’t stand the waiting anymore…

  32. PaulMorel says:

    re: 3 games

    I was under the impression that 3D Realms had worked, as hired guns, on a slew of games. I was under the impression that they worked behind the scenes on a number of big titles over the last 15 years.

  33. whalleywhat says:

    Never Bet On Duke.

  34. Blather Blob says:

    I believe 3DR sold off the Max Payne franchise, presumably to Take 2 if Rockstar are working on number 3. I remember seeing something from Broussard bragging about how much money they made off of what was a dead franchise, before the new owners announced they had licensed a film adaptation.

    I suppose 3D Realms might have had some sort of clause in the sale about getting money off of any eventual movies, but who knows? It’s not like a movie coming out necessarily means any money for a games company anyway (see Tomb Raider, though that is probably more an example of stupidity on Eidos’ part than an example of the movie industry screwing the games industry).

  35. Walsh says:

    Why are you nut jobs crying over this? There’s been nothing but rank arrogance on the part of those scam artists for 10 freaking years. I’d be surprised if any company would hire them since they’ve never seen a deadline in their lives.

    Good riddance to this awful joke.

  36. Turkish Superman says:

    Confirmed: http://forums.3drealms.com/vb/showpost.php?p=867590&postcount=129

    “It’s not a marketing thing. It’s true. I have nothing further to say at this time. “

  37. Seth says:

    Too every thing, there is a season, under heaven.

  38. Saul says:

    D.N.F. is.

  39. drewski says:

    Company with no games in going broke shocker.

  40. Scalene says:

    NONONONONONONONONONONO!

    I remember whatshisface tweeted that the group had only 50 things left to do or something!

    I WAS HAPPY!

  41. hitnrun says:

    Did Not Finish.

    Sad stuff, but if you can’t make money on Duke Nukem – a franchise whose fans demand absolutely *nothing* special or innovative except for the King’s incomparable style – you shouldn’t be in business.

  42. Popular Energy Drink says:

    @Blather:
    It was Remedy that sold the IP to Rockstar, after MP2. I honestly scoff a little bit when anyone mentions 3DR had any significant dealings with the games, when it was really Remedy’s little bundle of hard work, but I digress.

    Going back OT, I’m not surprised at all at this news.

  43. bansama says:

    “It’s not a marketing thing. It’s true. I have nothing further to say at this time. “

    Where’s the press release then? I’m still calling BS on a forum post that carries no official weight whatsoever – sure it may be posted be an employee or even the CEO, but if this is serious, it’d have a press release and an official announcement. Not just some ratty old forum post.

    Not that I care for the compant at all, but BS like this should never be accepted. If it’s real, then do it properly.

  44. LewieP says:

    @Hybrid

    Nope, still nobody cares about it.

  45. Mark Stevens says:

    Should be interesting to get the inside scoop once all the smoke clears. I wonder how much money they actually sunk into DNF? What finally pushed them over the edge? With DNF reportedly being close to finished, I’m guessing it all boiled down to the game being an unplayable mess that unfortunately couldn’t sustain yet another protracted development cycle.

    A shame, because we all wanted to see the final product, but 3D Realms really haven’t got anyone to blame but themselves. Putting all your eggs in one basket, then locking that basket away in a cupboard for nearly 15 years, defies logic.

  46. Bobsy says:

    Hardly surprising. If you eat money for 12 years and don’t actually make a product, your company is not in a good financial model.

    That said, I fully expect an RPS post in about two months with a rumour that developer/publisher X MIGHT have bought up the game assets and MIGHT be looking to complete/release it and we MIGHT get to play it in the end anyway.

    Then silence.

    I’m like a gaming Nostradamus, me.

  47. Gaph says:

    Still thinking the headline tomorrow will be “Duke Nukem Forever Goes Gold — 3d Realms Becomes Apogee”

  48. vornn says:

    Sad sad news. (i almost weapt)

    I propose that May 7th be talk like Duke day.

    All in favour say I!

    : )

  49. ChaosSmurf says:

    Duke Nukem Never :<

    RIP