Interceptor ‘Not Too Worried’ About Gearbox/Duke Lawsuit

By Nathan Grayson on March 3rd, 2014 at 9:30 pm.

Oh gaming industry, even during the early year release doldrums, you never pull punches on good old fashioned drama. In the red corner, we have Rise of the Triad developer Interceptor, whose burgeoning brand roster now includes the smoldering remains of original Duke Nukem creator 3D Realms, and in the blue corner we have Borderlands developer and current Duke owner Gearbox. Gearbox, of course, is suing Interceptor because of Duke Nukem: Mass Destruction, a gum-assing, kick-chewing ARPG it doesn’t believe Interceptor has the rights to develop. But, in the wake of its 3D Realms purchase, Interceptor has told RPS that it thinks it’s completely in the right.

“We wouldn’t have entered this development if we weren’t completely, 100 percent sure that we were indeed doing what we were allowed to,” CEO Frederik Schreiber said during a recent interview.

The line “in good faith” has come up countless times at this point, so I inquired further as to what exactly Interceptor means by that. Newly appointed 3D Realms/Apogee Software head Mike Nielsen explained:

“In good faith means that we felt we had done all the necessary work to verify and secure that the license was valid. And we still believe that. Nothing has changed. But we have to be realistic that we’re facing a lawsuit.”

And yet, Schreiber and Nielsen refused to refer to Mass Destruction by name, instead calling it an “unannounced project” even though a web-based promo campaign already revealed its identity. When pressed, however, they adamantly stated that they don’t think Gearbox’s lawsuit will hold their weapon of mass deliberation back for long. While they can’t predict the future, they believe 3D Realms still exerts some degree of control over Duke Nukem despite a recent apology letter from 3D Realms’ Scott Miller and George Broussard acknowledging that they’d violated Gearbox’s rights.

“We’ve obviously investigated and we have good faith that 3D Realms had that residual right [to Duke],” said Nielsen. “That’s what we believe… We’re not too worried about the lawsuit.”

“We would never enter agreements like these if we hadn’t done the necessary research and legal research beforehand,” added Schreiber. ”That’d be too risky for a small company like Interceptor.”

So then, what happens next? For their parts, Schreiber and Nielsen seem pretty optimistic that Gearbox’s lawsuit is only a stumbling block – not the end of the line.

“The lawsuit hasn’t swayed us from thinking that this was a good business decision to acquire 3D Realms and basically relaunch it as a publishing brand,” explained Nielsen. “That’s what we’re working on right now. The lawsuit is just part of business I think. You can get sued for a lot of things. We’ll take it as it comes.”

And as for Duke? Well, if Interceptor gets its way, we’ll be getting some concrete info sooner rather than later.

“Hopefully we’ll be making an official announcement on that within a month or so,” said Nielsen. “By then we should be able to make an announcement on it.”

For now, though, it’s back to the realm of lawyers and legalese. That one, presumably, is also three dimensional.

“We’ll let our defense speak for itself,” concluded Nielsen, “but we’re still hoping that we can solve this peacefully. That’s always been our goal.”

Look for the rest of our interview with Interceptor – which includes the Rise of the Triad developer’s publishing plans and overwhelming desire to acquire the Blood IP – very, very soon.

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41 Comments »

  1. Paul says:

    I just wish they would agree with Gearbox to split profits, drop lawsuit, and release that god damn Duke 3D Reloaded that was promised 4 years ago and still undelivered. I was looking forward to that more than to DNF.

    • Awesumo says:

      Unfortunately it isn’t uncommon to have a contract that gives a company exclusivity, whilst limiting them to a certain number of releases. For example, they may have the exclusive rights to publish 2 Duke Nukem games within the next 8 years.

  2. KDR_11k says:

    Is the name “Duke Nukem” really worth this level of trouble?

    • RobF says:

      That’s the desperately sad thing about all of this. No, it really isn’t.

    • Lemming says:

      Really not.

    • prian says:

      Yes, it really is.

      Duke Nukem Forever sold over 370,000 physical copies.

      http://www.vgchartz.com/game/29219/duke-nukem-forever/

      Then there were the digital sales that aren’t recorded or tracked by vgchartz.

      The Duke Nukem Intellectual Property is incredible valuable. If a game like Duke Nukem Forever which was blasted by reviewers and critics can sell that many copies.. more or less anything with the name attached to it will do something similar.

      It is an extremely valuable property to own.

      • Faxmachinen says:

        Isn’t that considered a failure these days?

        • RobF says:

          Yeah, that’s pretty much a disaster. Especially when you factor in how much must have been thrown down the drainhole developing it for all those years. But even without that, they’re awful sales figures and you can bet most digital sales would have been during the sales.

          It’s a massive leap to assume because DNF is shit and sold that many copies other DN games will because DNF is a MASSIVE special case videogame being the stuff of legends.

          So another way of looking at it is STUFF OF LEGENDS DUKE NUKEM FOREVER sells less than half a million at retail, eclipsed by… insert games here.

          • Kentauroi says:

            Depends on who you’re talking about really. Most of that money was pissed away by 3D realms. Who knows what the development cost of DNF was for Gearbox. I’m sure it was by no means a big boost for the company but Gearbox could’ve still broken even for what they spent getting it out the door.

            I was never a fan of Duke Nukem, but the “360,000 copies is a failure” line is really for the AAA industry. If the new Duke Nukem game was something like the more recent Serious Sam or Shadow Warrior games in terms of budget (and pricing) I can see how you could justify taking another crack at it.

          • RobF says:

            Yeah, it’s a failure for AAA. I mean, Take Two were expecting to shift 3 million and I suspect they probably figured they were low balling it too given the years of development.

            But I’m responding specifically to the claims that the IP is valuable and that any game can sell those sort of numbers. No, it’s really not that valuable and the chances of any lower budget Duke Nukem game being able to reach those sort of numbers is, well, it’s hopeful. It could happen but it won’t happen because “it’s Duke Nukem”, it’ll happen because it’ll be the right game that hits all the buttons the sort of person who wants a Duke Nukem game wants hitting.

            After all this time, I’m not even sure anyone knows really what that would be anymore. Kinda like hoping for a Bob Dylan album as good as something he made in the sixties or something.

      • KDR_11k says:

        Keep in mind that VGchartz is full of bullshit numbers, they just make shit up whenever they can’t get a number and they don’t get any privileged access, only the public press releases.

      • StarkeRealm says:

        That’s copies moved to stores, though, right? Not actual retail sales.

    • Juan Carlo says:

      No. I don’t think the humor in DNF was all that different than Duke 3D. Only difference was time and Duke Nukem’s time has come and gone. What was awesome in 1996 seems much dumber and much cruder by today’s standards. Duke Nukem really wasn’t a character anyway as much as he was just an empty riff on action movie tropes. So fighting over his character rights is a bit like fighting over the character rights to Doom Guy. No real reason to bother other than what minimal level of name recognition the character still has.

      Which isn’t to say it’s worthless. I think a new game with his name on it will sell just by virtue of his name alone. But I don’t think the property has much creative value left to it that hasn’t already been mined.

      • Baines says:

        There were at least a few reviews, blogs, and/or YouTube videos that explained how DNF was different from previous Duke games, and some did touch on the differences in humor.

        There actually was a difference. Admittedly, it could be luck and/or limitations that caused the previous games to look better, while DNF was closer to what was originally envisioned.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Duke3D never had the line “Duke, we’ll get the weight off in a week, we swear *abdomen explodes from alien rape baby*” in its script.

        Other aspects have been discussed here previously.

      • El_Emmental says:

        “No. I don’t think the humor in DNF was all that different than Duke 3D”

        Like Baines said, it was already covered countless times.

        Basically, DN3D had an over-the-top macho man on steroid fighting “pig” cops (literally), and the humor was how silly and not serious the players would see the character: Duke Nukem pretending to be that awesome man was part of the joke. The whole environment (characters, posters, “scenes”) was a joke, the humor was cheap in a second-meaning/irony style (second degrée in french).

        That self-deprecating humor was really absent in DNF, I played through it without ever facing a moment where I thought “hey, that’s some clever self-reflexive humor”. And it lacked proper references and tropes based on the gaming culture (the Halo scene was cheap and… several years too late, should have been the latest CoD, and joke around one-hit-kill knives).

        -

        Rather than mocking a power suit, why the game wasn’t filled with “consolized”/”casualized” game design humor ? Being limited to 2 weapons and a very low ammo pool should have been a JOKE, quickly changed back to massive ammo pool and 10-weapons inventory after a short fight where you’re running out of all ammo on purpose. Same with the sniper rifle part in the desert, it should have been a joke.

        -

        Rail-shooting sequences should have been more boring and pointless, with a terribly unfair sequence (where you can’t hit an enemy firing at you), and Duke “fixes” the situation by tearing off the fixed heavy machine-gun and use jump pads (from the Q3A/UT era) while being the idiotic macho-man he tries to be.

        -

        The two girls being captured and impregnated by aliens should have became a brilliant nod to Infested Kerrigan, both tearing off the alien egg shell as you get closer and telling you “Do you think we would be waiting for our ‘Jim-the-white-knight’ in a power armor ?” [SPOILER] (Kerrigan becoming a damsel in distress again, with Raynor saving her), the two ladies now becoming a boss stage, mocking Duke Nukem over his inability to actually achieve anything but superficial fame, while throwing aliens minions at him and using their newfound powers. The way Duke Nukem would have answered and dealed with that would have greatly developed the character and let us get a short glimpse at his insecurity (and his terribly cheesy lines to cover it up). That, combined with an ironic “Kill meee !” line from the sisters (making fun of the DN3D captured women), would have crowned that scene.

        Instead, 3DRealms/Gearbox decided to make Duke wiggles aliens titties and make a lame fat+pregnancy+rape joke, while killing the girls.

        DN3D was already not following the usual code of its era: the women couldn’t be saved, he couldn’t carry them around like a trophy for bonus points – all he could do was finishing them off, without any incentives for that. Doing the exact “technically the same” thing in DNF, and adding a fat+pregnancy+rape joke on top of it, is just the dumbest thing the devs could ever make, that was missing the whole point of DN3D and how it criticized and made fun of its era of video games.

        Sadly, I don’t think the Duke Nukem franchise will ever recover, humor and self-deprecation won’t sell these days.

        • HadToLogin says:

          That read great. Maybe not really Duke’y with that insecure Duke, but still better then DNF humor, where 99% of times it’s just some sex-reference.

          The “Doctor Who Cloned Me” DLC feels so much better because they didn’t put some sex-reference in every corner.

        • The Random One says:

          Holy fuck. Yes, fuck yes. You get it, you get all of it. A giant boss that’s Duke’s exes shouting emotional abuse at him is exactly what Duke is about, while the Duke we got is what a thirteen-year-old might’ve thought Duke was about because he didn’t understand subtlety and took everything at face value.

          Someone hand you the keys to the franchise so you can go save it.

  3. Beelzebud says:

    Did they (3DR and Interceptor) actually think Gearbox was bailing DNF out just from the kindness of their hearts? That they wouldn’t assert control over the IP they paid millions for? Welcome to reality, boys. Gearbox isn’t your BFF.

    • diamondmx says:

      Neither is anyone who played DNF. Or to be honest the recent ROTT remake, which was also a pile of crap.

      • kalirion says:

        What’s your issue with the ROTT remake? It may not be a masterpiece, but it’s still a fun throwback to the “good old days”. My ownly problem with it personally is that I find it hard to spot enemies against the background sometimes.

      • Mitthrawn says:

        Yeah, I also quite enjoyed it. It’s fun to have 90′s style FPS back with both ROTT and Shadow Warrior, but with shiny new graphics. Shadow Warrior was better, but they’re both good fun.

      • soldant says:

        The ROTT remake was, funnily enough, exactly what everyone has been asking for – a straight 90s FPS game with modern graphics. If it was such a pile of crap, maybe that reflects on how dated 90s FPS mechanics actually are.

        But in all fairness the remake wasn’t crap at all. What made it so hard to play was the fact that the game ran atrociously even on high end hardware, which combined with the game’s rapid speed made it effectively unplayable until they did some optimisation work.

        • LionsPhil says:

          Maybe you should try playing an FPS from the 90s.

          GOG’s a thing. Or try SiN; it’s on Steam along with its truncated sequel.

          • soldant says:

            Maybe I grew up with them, and I just don’t subscribe to blatant revisionism.

          • stupid_mcgee says:

            Maybe people can still make modern games with classic gameplay mechanics? Why only play games from the 90′s to get that oldschool gameplay feel? Why shouldn’t people harp back to those mechanics? Are you saying that from here on out all games must have grape jelly-splattered screens and regenerating health? Is this what Stockholm Syndrome looks like?

          • LionsPhil says:

            I think you are suffering from revisionism, which is why you need to refresh your memory. “Old” is not a synonym for “crap”. People making bad games with old licenses are not making bad games because of those licenses, it’s just because they’re inept.

            And who knows what McGee is on about.

  4. Citizen Graves says:

    Maybe it’s due to my binge-watching of all Breaking Bad episodes, but I have come to the conclusion that Apogee and 3DRealms only exist as fronts for the mexican drug-cartels with the sole purpose of laundering money.

    Think about it, you know it makes sense. How else do you explain all…..this. Whatever this is.

    And DNF.

    And the fact that fat-fuck Broussard isn’t fucking broke and living in a dumpster from wasting everyone’s time for all these years.

    • HisDivineOrder says:

      The reason Broussard has tons of money is that back in the glory days of Duke Nukem, he licensed the crap out of it for dozens of cheapo titles. Those titles sold vaguely well because Duke Nukem meant something back then.

      They weren’t great quality and plenty of people got screwed thinking they were getting real Duke Nukem games, but he made a bank off all that. That’s why he’s so vehemently against any notion of a game’s copyright falling away after a certain point of time like it’s been in any other time in history.

      Because he made his fortune off these old games. No telling how much he made off selling Duke Nukem IP not once, but TWICE (to Gearbox and then to Interceptor).

      I suspect a lawsuit is the only thing that’s going to take the wind out of his sales.

  5. Darth Gangrel says:

    “overwhelming desire to acquire the Blood IP” Oh really? There will be Blood? I thought the movie by that name with Daniel Day-Lewis was a bit dull and tedious, but I’d quite like it if there was to be another Blood game.

    • DatonKallandor says:

      Unfortunately the completely wrong people are trying to get the Blood IP (although the current Duke shenanigans don’t point to them being “good” with IPs anway). Now give Blood to the guys who made the new Shadow Warrior (who have professed to have tried to get the Blood rights and failed)? Now that would be gold.

  6. kalirion says:

    “Good faith”? If I sell a house to one party, and then sell the same house to a second party, does the second party get to keep the house because they bought it “in good faith”?

    • Mr.Bats says:

      Actually -at least in Spain-, yes.

      If nobody can prove that third party -second buyer- did know the house couldn’t be sold.

      That’s over simplified but the truth.

      • kalirion says:

        So what happens in that case in Spain? Rightful owners lose the house and the ignorant ones get to keep it?

        • misterT0AST says:

          Can confirm that in Italy the first person to register the contract gets the house, the second gets nothing and can ask for a refund + a compensation.

          However, if whichever of the two buys in “good faith” holds the possession for long enough, he becomes the rightful owner by “usucapio” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usucapio.

          That’s some civil law for you.

        • El_Emmental says:

          Similar situation in France.

          Most civil law system sure need to protect the rights of the first buyer, but they also need to protect the rights of the second buyer (if he bought the thing in good faith).

          There’s more protection (in the french system) for houses and lands though, requiring the seller and buyer to publish the sale in publicly-accessible registries in order to permanently secure it (otherwise it *can* be cancelled).

    • stupid_mcgee says:

      “Good faith” is a legally defined term meaning that you desire to work with the parties involved and to not destroy nor negate their contracts nor the benefits of any previous contract, not whatever you think it means. Basically, if they bought 3D Realms and then work with Gearbox to ensure that Gearbox gets to keep their rights to DNF and any other previous contractual obligations with 3D Realms, that is acting in good faith.

      For fucks sake, people, you can look up the goddamn term on Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Good_faith_(law) There’s no excuse for this empty-headed bullshit.

  7. ncnavguy says:

    I honestly think this is going to come down to some minutia in the contract wording. IE: Gear Box owns the rights to sole produce all 3D (ie with polygons) Duke Nukem’s while Interceptor has acquired the rights to produce “Duke Nukem 3D” (Sprite based) and that’s what they are operating their logic off of.

    If it come down to missed detail like that in the licensing agreement and I was gearbox I would totally kick our company lawyers ass that approved the contract lol!

  8. Runic says:

    Duke Nukem rules in all ways imaginable. Everyone who disagrees is wrong until the end of time and space, and probably a feminine pseudointellectual who doesn’t even lift.

  9. BiggerJ says:

    If I’d been the interviewer, here’s how I would have brought up the lawsuit: “Uh, you do realize you bought a company that’s currently involved in an ugly lawsuit, right? (please already know please already know please already know)”

  10. stupid_mcgee says:

    “The line ‘in good faith’ has come up countless times at this point, so I inquired further as to what exactly Interceptor means by that.”

    There’s no need to ask Inteceptor. You can ask Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Good_faith_(law)

    The reason why it’s come up repeatedly is because it is legal terminology.