Shake It, Maybe: 3D Realms “Not Closed”

By Jim Rossignol on May 19th, 2009 at 5:57 am.


But they have dissolved the DNF dev team. Shacknews has the full statement.

Despite rumors and statements to the contrary, 3D Realms (3DR) has not closed and is not closing. 3DR retains ownership of the Duke Nukem franchise. Due to lack of funding, however, we are saddened to confirm that we let the Duke Nukem Forever (DNF) development team go on May 6th, while we regroup as a company. While 3DR is a much smaller studio now, we will continue to operate as a company and continue to license and co-create games based upon the Duke Nukem franchise.

Lots more through the link, complete with the response to Take 2′s lawsuit.

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56 Comments »

  1. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    I’m actually more surprised that they’re still not dead, but pleasantly. Wonder what’s going to happen to Duke now, though. Take 2 looks serious.

  2. Pavel says:

    In other words…DNF will never see the light of day.

    Sigh.

    I was really hopefull, all those 12 years, that the game would come out and kick ass.

  3. Owen says:

    Five-fifty-bloody-seven AM Jim?!

  4. MrBejeebus says:

    yay!

    but still it sounds dodgy to me, plus Take 2 is on to them…

  5. Jim Rossignol says:

    Five-fifty-bloody-seven AM

    I am an early riser.

  6. Noc says:

    It’s good to hear that 3DR is back on its feet. Or has always been on its feet, in the same way that we’ve always been at war with Eurasia.

    I’m a bit worried about the future of Valve, though, now that Robin Walker has fired everybody.

  7. bansama says:

    Personally, I think the Duke franchise should be taken out back and shot. That franchise needs to die now. It’s rotting already as it is. Then perhaps this whole sorry not-in-the-least-bit-ammusing “drama” can finally end.

    Seriously, it’s not like DNF would ever have lived up to anyone’s expectations as it is. If it’s taking you over a decade to make a game (and you’re not doing it as a single person project), then it’s time to call it quits and find a job you are actually able to do.

    Failing to do that just makes you look like the laughing stock of the industy. And really, that’s all 3D Realms is now. They’re almost making the Limbo of the Lost guys look good — hell, at least they actually got their game released.

  8. A Dead Eldar Guardian says:

    I don’t know much about 3D Realms, but have they even released a title in the last 5 to 10 years?

  9. justsomeguy says:

    believing that the IP would be in capable and prouctive hands, i was excited by the idea of take two gaining the DNF license. now i’m not.

  10. marilena says:

    If what they say is true, Take Two is spectacularly evil.

    Of course, all corporations are evil, but this is on another level – effectively having a long term plan on how to steal a franchise from the developers.

  11. Brad Grenz says:

    There is nothing evil about Take 2′s position. What is evil is 3D Realms pretending like they have no obligation to the contracted publisher of DNF.

    What is clearer now is that 3DR did make money off the original publishing deal with GT Interactive, AND just got millions of dollars from Take 2 last year. They seem to want it both ways: “we never took any outside money!” and “why wouldn’t they give us any money?” But it’s really, “oh, I guess we did get some money, but other people got other money that we did not get, so I guess what I’m trying to say is: can we please have some more money?”

    @Noc:

    Yeah, I guess 3D Realms is about as on its feet as a developer no longer engaged in development can be. What they’ve said today is basically what we already knew, their preexisting licensing deals still hold and they can still be the target of litigation. Businesses don’t cease to exist just because they’ve fired all the employees.

  12. Kadayi says:

    The full statement reads all very well, but unfortunately regardless of how hard done by they think they’ve been, legally they are screwed. 12 years and nothing to show for it is a ridiculous defence. There isn’t another game out there that’s remotely suffered the same period of development hell. Sure its easy to paint Take 2 as the big bad (if only they gave us more money and more time ‘sniff’), but anthropomorphizing corporations actions is a foolish thing. There’s a recession on and almost all of the big publishers are hurting, and shareholders query everything when it comes to expenditure. DNF is just a casualty of that.

    As for 3DR being not being closed. Technically that might be the case, but lets be honest here, short of a Russian Oil Baron showing them some generosity they’ll probably whimper out when their remaining funds dry up in a year or two. I think this is a case of men whose egos are too fragile to acknowledge the humility of their circumstances.

    As for DNF, personally I’d love to have seen it on the shelves, however as was noted on the most recent 1up podcast, the whole 80s action hero shtick the franchise milked is so culturally irrelevant these days its hard to say whether it would of been a critical or commercial success. Should of shipped back in 2001 when there was still a definite market there.

  13. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    Well that ‘splains it.

  14. Noc says:

    Kadayi: Actually, they wouldn’t be legally screwed if, as they claim a) they weren’t actually under obligation to 2K, and b) they received nothing for 2K to claim as damages.

    How long the development’s been going on isn’t really relevant to the legal matter. They aren’t the ones suing 2K over a change in plans; the press release is just a way of saying that what 2K did was a dick move. Which is open to interpretation, certainly, but whether DNF is a necessary victim of circumstance or collateral damage in an underhanded attempt to steal a notable license isn’t a question that’s terribly related to 2K’s court case.

    . . .

    Also, it’s not like small studios aren’t, you know, sustainable.

  15. The Sombrero Kid says:

    @Brad Grenz
    you’ve spectacularly misunderstood, 2k is claiming ownership of the duke nukem forever publishing rights, if what 3D realms say is true the contract breaches mean a hell of a lot, also they are claiming money back from 3D Realms that 3D realms claim were given to someone else, also 2k have been pretty ruthless about this stuff in the past.

    Edit: to clarify the legal matter is about not delivering the game in a timely fashion i reckon, which they are correct about however the majority of the ‘money spent’ was on acquiring the publishing rights which they still retain and can’t really sue anyone over, also it seems 3D realms claim 2k breached their contract anyway and so aren’t due anything.

  16. Kadayi says:

    Money changed hands in relation to the game being produced. This they confirmed in the address, where there is an exchange of money there is legal obligation. Regardless as to whom the money was paid to and whether 3DR ever saw any of that money is an irrelevance, standing obligations were bought by Take 2 that are still in place.

    Consider this, you pay rent to Mr Smith your landlord who sets out in your agreement with him that you must maintain the front garden or suffer a fine. Then Mr Smith sells his contract between you and him to a letting agency. That you no longer pay the money directly to Mr Smith any more doesn’t mean your obligation to maintain the front garden has lapsed. The only time a sold obligation alters is if the new owners decide to review it.

  17. The Sombrero Kid says:

    @Kadayi
    2K bought the publishing rights, they still own the right to publish the game, their has been no apparent breach of the purchase agreement, incidentaly at least in the UK if you were renting a property and the landlord sold it the landlord would have to terminate the contact and a new one would need to be drawn up, there is no implicit agreement.

  18. Brad Grenz says:

    Let’s at the very least be clear that the publisher’s name is “Take 2″ not 2K. If you can’t even properly identify the parties involved it calls in to question one’s whole reading.

    Also, 3DR does not dispute the existence of a publishing contract for DNF owned by Take 2. It’s rather silly, but this PR seems mostly to have been issued to correct the common misconception that the $12 figure was paid to 3D Realms. Of course no one on either side was actually claiming this was the case, rather there are just a lot of stupid people out there posting comments on gaming blogs and forums who have really, really poor reading comprehension skills. Sadly, 3D Realms issued their correction in the form of a written statement, so it probably won’t help things.

    But that has absolutely nothing to do with the substance of the case. The “spin” that Scott Miller claims is out there is not originating from Take 2, but is rather a symptom of the ignorant bleating of idiots that is endemic to the internet. Take 2 did buy the publishing rights from Infrogrames, who inherited them when they acquired GT Interactive who paid 3D Realms for the rights in the first place. This is where your transitive property comes in handy. Both sides stipulate to this fact. They paid 12 million dollars in 2 6 million dollar payment at the turn of the century. No matter who cashed the checks it doesn’t change the fact that Take 2 is over $12 million dollars deep on a product 3D Realms has stopped trying to make at the moment and a court will recognize the investment.

  19. Kadayi says:

    @Sombrero

    They paid for the rights to publish a game, a game that has ceased production (and therefore they cannot publish), they are well within their rights to demand access to the work as it stands so they can pass it off to someone who can complete it. They certainly aren’t obliged to continue to pay 3DR to ‘develop’ the game.

    Also I’m talking about selling the rights to a contract, not selling a property. Different things entirely.

  20. The LxR says:

    @bansama, actually, no. If you’ve seen the leaked video footage from the game, we were actually going to get a fun descent game 100% in the spirit of the original Duke Nukem 3D game. By fun I mean something that modern games lack totally – look at GTA4 and compare it to it’s crappier graphic wise, but fun analog Saints Row 2. The second is a lot better. So… Time will tell.

    @A Dead Eldar Guardian: They’ve done a lot of production work on both the Max Payne games and a great deal of polish is because of 3D Realms guidance – like the title of the game itself. :) Also – Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project, Prey (produced) and lot’s of small stuff…

  21. MetalCircus says:

    @bansama I completley disagree with you. Why should 3D Realms give a hoot weather people think of them as a laughing stock? I think they have just as much right to carry on making games that people would want to play. Just because of the DNF debacle I don’t think they deserve to be outcast from the community. They’ve made some fantastic games during the DNF thing too, Prey was alright, the Max Payne series was fantastic.

    So tell me, why should 3DR care about what you think? At all? I’m glad they’re not closing frankly. If everyone went around doing things based on everyone elses idiotic half-baked opinions all the time then we’d not have a lot of games to play.

  22. Bendak says:

    @ MetalCircus

    Max Payne was developed by Remedy and Prey by Human Head.. 3D Realms took a back seat production role for both games and haven’t actually developed anything since 1997.

  23. James says:

    That’s easily the best headline I’ve seen amongst all the coverage of this whole fiasco.

  24. damien says:

    @ metalcircus – 3D realms didn’t make “max payne” or “prey”.
    remedy and human head did. 3D realms published them.

    // ^^ what happens when you read every post and then hit reply without refreshing. ;)

  25. The Sombrero Kid says:

    there’s no such thing as selling the rights to a contract in the UK at least.

  26. bansama says:

    So tell me, why should 3DR care about what you think?

    You’re right, why should they care? They won’t ever be seeing any of my money. But that still doesn’t stop me from being able to have an opinion, to express it and make it clear exactly *why* they will never ever see any of my money.

    I’m just surprised that so many people appear to still have this love for a (part of a) company that has not managed to produce anything despite wasting huge amounts of money for over a decade. I’m surprised that people still have faith in said (part of) company that sat back and did nothing to curb such outrageous spending of money without actually actively adding to the continual profit of the company.

    Seriously, what company in the entertainment sector can honestly justify wasting 20 milion dollars (at least) for over a decade without actually putting out a product? Most such enterprises would already have been identified as possible investment scams.

    And no, I do not count videos of pre-released products as solid proof of a “fun and enjoyable” game. It’s a video, nothing more. And videos have certainly been used in the past to fool people into thinking that there is an actual product when in reality, there is none.

  27. Thomas Larsen says:

    Kadayi in the reason why it has currently ceased production is because Take 2 went back on an agreement to fund the rest of the developement.

    Regardless, as you can see from the press release work continues as they try to their business, however it’s a bit hard when you get betrayed by your publisher.

  28. qrter says:

    I have to agree, I wish they’d let this franchise die already. It’s over.

  29. jalf says:

    @Thomas Larsen: Huh? After 13 years, I don’t think they’re in a position to complain if funding stops. What, do you think Take2 was intending to fund a dev team doing nothing for the rest of their lives?

    The reason why they have currently ceased production is that they have been utterly incompetent and unable to produce a game.

  30. Thomas Larsen says:

    Jalf, i agree that they shouldn’t expect funding after 13 years.

    That doesn’t make a difference whether or not they were promised funding which Take 2 didn’t decide to honor.

  31. The Sombrero Kid says:

    a publisher starving a weak developer of cash they contractually owe so that they can force a buy out and end up owing themselves the money plus gobbling up all their juicy IP is common and very common for take 2, which is why i find it very easy to believe 3D Realms’ position is genuine.

  32. jalf says:

    Where do you get the idea that they were “promised” anything? According to 3DR’s prsss release, they were *negotiating* such a deal. They had not yet agreed to, or promised anything.

    Take 2 entered these negotiations, but ultimately decided they could not justify funding the funding. There is nothing evil about that, it is not “betrayal”. Most likely, they simply had a sudden attack of sanity and realized that they’d just be dumping more money into a black hole.

    If they had actually signed a deal to fund the game, you’d have a point, but they hadn’t. Unless you have information I haven’t seen.

  33. jalf says:

    @The Sombrero Kid: Once again, what did they contractually owe?

    And out of curiosity, which other developers have they done that to?

  34. Ian says:

    For better or worse, Duke Nukem Forever never dies!

  35. jalf says:

    And never lives either

  36. Thomas Larsen says:

    Jalf, i don’t really care about the legal side of this issue, fact remains:

    3DR needed money.
    Take 2 promised money.
    3DR put their trust in Take 2
    Take 2 abused that trust to try and gain the DNF IP.

    I don’t care if 3DR got a case or not, i know that 3DR wouldn’t just have gone belly up in the course of 3 days, because had they been told by Take 2 from the beginning that they wouldn’t get any funding then 3DR would’ve gone to other companies to get their funding, this obviously didn’t happen because they trusted Take 2.

    Hopefully they’ll win this case.

  37. jalf says:

    LOL wat?

    “from the beginning”? They entered negotiations, according to 3DR’s own press release, late last year. That’s hardly “from the beginning”. In DNF terms it’s barely even “a moment ago”.

    And T2 is a corporation. They don’t make promises, they make legal deals.
    And they did not have a deal with 3DR. They were working towards getting one, but in case you hadn’t noticed, there’s a financial crisis on, and only a publisher with a suicide wish would agree to fund 3DR in the current economic climate.

    The “fact” remains that only the first of your facts are true. T2 promised nothing, they *negotiated*. 3DR may have put their trust in T2, but only because they had no other choice.
    It wouldn’t have changed anything if 3DR had *not* trusted T2. They’d still have run out of money and they’d still be without funding. 3DR had no binding agreement preventing them from talking to other investors. They could have done that *while* negotiating with T2. But they didn’t, because they knew that no sane investor would put money into DNF at the moment. They would have gone belly up even if T2 had said no from day

    But even if your delusions are true, you’re still missing two obvious problems:
    - It wouldn’t MATTER if 3DR got funding. They’re still incompetent, they still wouldn’t have a game to show today, tomorrow or a decade from now.
    - A company so naive that they don’t even approach more than one investor when they need money is doomed anyway. It’s pretty much business 101 that until there is a contract, nothing is certain. People you’re negotiating with may say no, and then you’d better have a plan B ready. If 3DR were too dumb to realize this, then all the money in the world wouldn’t have saved them.

    “Trust” had nothing to do with it. 3DR did not “trust” anything, they just knew they were out of options.
    And T2 could only “betray” 3DR if there’s a chance that 3DR would otherwise have survived. There isn’t. Quit deluding yourself. Investors and publishers are *not* eager to fund DNF, especially not during an economic downturn and when most publishers are *already* losing money. Even if T2 had stayed completely away and never exchanged a single word with 3DR, the company would’ve gone belly-up. It’s hardly betrayal then, when the impact of T2′s actions is precisely nothing. It made no difference.

  38. Mr Lizard says:

    Although not so incompetent as not to retain the IP.

  39. Jeremy says:

    Regardless of all the legality of A vs B, this game just needs to die. 3D Realms should really just close this chapter of development in their company, and let it be a very interesting chapter at that. I don’t want to see them go down in flames though, just this game, let it go… we all die sometime…

  40. Wulf says:

    Personally, I’d love to see this game go to a decent development house that care about Duke, for anyone over the age of 20 there’s going to be an audience. Most TV for that age and up was the same kind of silly nonsense, and there’s always room for a bit of silly nonsense.

    As for T2, I can’t help but wish that they’d been bought up by EA. Frankly, I’ve been liking EA over this past year or so a lot more than I like T2, and had they been bought out the handling of this might’ve gone a little differently, if only for the fact that EA are trying to distance themselves from the mega-evil corportation image that they built up before they had a change of heart.

    ActiBlizz is the new EA, everyone should know that, so I really can’t help but think how this might’ve played out otherwise. It might’ve been exactly the same, or EA might’ve had a sit-down-and-talk with 3DR and bought their progress and the right to develop for that name (a la Fallout 3) to pass along to another development team.

    I suppose I just feel sorry for 3DR, legality or not, faceless corporation that we shouldn’t anthropomorphise or not, as an older gamer who remembers Apogee/3DR in their prime (unlike most of these kids today, GEDDOF MY DAMN LAWN), it’s just a sad thing to see. Then again, who knows? Maybe if T2 wins they’ll do the right thing with the source they obtain. Maybe, maybe…

  41. PHeMoX says:

    “Max Payne was developed by Remedy and Prey by Human Head.. 3D Realms took a back seat production role for both games and haven’t actually developed anything since 1997.”

    Max Payne has been developed by 3DRealms as well, it once started as an nameless inhouse production, that simply got completed by Remedy.

    Yes, 3DRealms published it and credit is due where credit is due, and ultimately that would be both.

    More or less the same story applies to Prey. 3DRealms had been testing the Doom3 engine (rumored) and Unreal Engines (fact) in the period before Prey got really into an development phase. It also started as a tech demo kind of thing, completed and ultimately developed by Human Head studios.

    ..at least that seems to be the buzz about these games.

  42. Bendak says:

    @PHeMoX

    Yes, although 3DR can be credited with several design concepts it’s clear that they lack the ability to complete a game within a set time-frame.. for this reason, i’d like to see T2 win the case and gain the rights to the IP so that a competent developer might one day release the game.

  43. Brass Gerbil says:

    What a pack of clowns. Perhaps they should hire Derek Smart.

  44. Kadayi says:

    @The Sombrero Kid

    1) UK law isn’t universal.
    2) Just because something is IP, doesn’t necessarily make it ‘juicy’. The whole send up 80s action hero shtick of DN was already pretty tired by 2000, its practically terminal these days. If Take 2 did offer 3DR the alleged $30M, to finish the game and buy the IP that would of been a pretty good deal to take.

    @Jaif

    Unfortunately you’ll find that Thomas possesses a bottomless well of forgiveness for the management of 3DR. Forget the fact they’ve spent 13 years faffing around, the real villains are Take 2, because if only they’d be prepared to have some faith (faith as resolute as Thomas’s) to and sink another couple of million into DNF development (and wait a couple more years) , they’d have helped in bringing about world peace through the healing power of DNF multi-player;)

    @Brass Gerbil

    Seriously take the Derek Smart digs somewhere else, the man ships product which is certainly more than 3DR do, and certainly is more than his detractors do.

  45. Serondal says:

    That’s not fair Brass Gerbil, at least Derek Smart has released a ton of games which improved in quality and playability each time over the years. I don’t think it is fair to compare him with the non-devlopers at 3d-realms.

  46. PHeMoX says:

    @Bendak:

    “@PHeMoX

    Yes, although 3DR can be credited with several design concepts it’s clear that they lack the ability to complete a game within a set time-frame.. for this reason, i’d like to see T2 win the case and gain the rights to the IP so that a competent developer might one day release the game.”

    You are wrong in believing they weren’t able to ‘finish anything’ in that time span though. Mind you they are the kind of company that used their independent status to make games they want to make, not caring about a publisher that demands the impossible within 6 months. There’s a world a difference between not finishing something because you think you can do even better, or not finishing because you can’t do it at all.

    They actually co-created a few games in between! It’s not like they wasted all their time on DNF alone.

    3DRealms surely can do it and hopefully when the buzz is gone, they will simply finish DNF this time around. 12-20 million in 12 years really isn’t that much money by the way and they don’t need to waste money on marketing anyways. Their franchise does it all. Heck for all we know this might be a marketing trick after all. My take on this? I think it is and I think Take-Two doesn’t really stand a chance winning the lawsuit (restraining order was already denied by court, evidence of the GT Interactive stuff is weak, etc. ).

    It’s stupid to think 3DRealms is ‘just another company’. Of course after a while people aren’t satisfied with ‘when it’s done’ anymore if it takes too long. I don’t blame those people.

  47. Kadayi says:

    There’s a lot of Egyptians in this thread….

  48. Serondal says:

    The problem is the keep taking so long to finish the F@#$# thing that a totlaly new generation of technology is out that makes their game look old. This isn’t the first time this has happened, but I think it is the only time it has happened 2 or 3 times for the same game :P I know a lot of games changed engines when Source engine came out for example.

  49. D says:

    Is reimbursement of $400k a realistic outcome of this court case then? If that was the amount of money 3DR was originally paid for the publishing deal, not finishing the title would (to me) atleast warrant that amount paid back. In office supplies if need be.

    Can’t someone just say “I’m a lawyer, this is how it is..” and get it over with? The suspense is unbearable! :)

  50. D says:

    @Kadayi:

    Unfortunately you’ll find that Thomas possesses a bottomless well of forgiveness for the management of 3DR. Forget the fact they’ve spent 13 years faffing around…

    Thats not how I’ve been reading his comments (from the other thread), but then again I believe you completely misunderstood me aswell there :) (For the record: I pre-emptively agreed with you, just don’t believe T2 will ressurect the franchise.)

    It just seems like you have too much faith in T2′s management. It’s almost like you don’t believe corporations are made of pure evil.