Maybe Stop Betting On Duke: Gearbox Suing 3D Realms

A legal filing, yesterday.

Hail to the legal filing, baby. Gearbox, owners of the Duke Nukem IP, have filed a complaint against 3D Realms, creators of the Duke Nukem IP. That’s because, as Adam spotted earlier this month, 3D Realms have teamed up with developers Interceptor to make Duke Nukem: Mass Destruction, apparently without owning any of the rights that would allow them to do that legally.

The complaint is pretty straightforward. Apogee, the publishing company spun-off from 3D Realms in 2008, has partnered with Interceptor Entertainment to make a top-down, action-RPG entry in the Duke Nukem series. Gearbox say, ‘Nuh uh, you’re not allowed.’

(Update: Actually, it’s not the Apogee which was spun off in 2008. That’s Apogee Software, LLC, and they are not affiliated with 3D Realms or listed in the suit. Apogee Software, Ltd is the company which is named. Apologies for the mistake.)

What’s slightly weirder is that 3D Realms maybe kinda agree that they’re not allowed, as they’ve apparently signed a declaration admitting that they don’t have the rights and were using them anyway.

This isn’t the first time Gearbox and 3D Realms have become embroiled in a legal scrap. Last summer, 3D Realms sued Gearbox for supposed unpaid royalties on Duke Nukem Forever. They later retracted the suit and issued a public apology to Gearbox.

Sadly Gearbox have yet to issue a public apology to everyone for releasing Duke Nukem Forever. Heyooo.

I’m trying to work out what I should feel about any of this. Duke Nukem hasn’t starred in a good game for almost twenty years, and as much as I appreciate the modernised Megaton Edition of Duke Nukem 3D on Steam, I’m not excited at the thought of the dinosaur returning. So my feeling is that everyone involved in this is a clown’s pocket.


  1. Jockie says:

    They should just let Duke die, every time he’s mentioned these days it’s undignified and embarrassing for all involved (and then there are the games, to which the same description applies).

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      I don’t even know why they’re bothering. Who even gives a shit about the Duke IP any more? Who, in their right minds, is looking forward to a new Duke game?

      • pongsifu says:

        I still play Duke Nukem 3D to this day. If there was going to be a new game anywhere close to the gameplay of DN3D, then yes, I would greatly look forward to it. DNF, however, was just a linear FPS with a Duke Nukem skin.

    • stahlwerk says:

      You have to wonder, why any publisher would want to even touch that IP with a ten foot pole after all the drama surrounding DN:F.

      Maybe Gearbox are (inadvertently) doing the right thing by keeping 3DRealms and Interceptor from further associating with the Duke Nukem “franchise”. In the end they may be thankful, even.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Perhaps they now see it as their sacred duty/penance to prevent new Duke Nukem things ever being created.

    • Henchimus says:

      Not even Duke music could make me feel enthused about another Duke game.

      … oh go on then:

    • Maxheadroom says:

      This. So many times This.

      Who is this aimed at??

      if you’re going to make an RPG out of an existing franchise doesnt it need recognisable characters? I’m old enough to remember the original 2D games and I couldn’t name a single character outside of Duke himself

    • Radarblips says:

      I dont see why a new Duke game would be bad. the idea of an rpg kinda excited me, maybe it would offer something even better than what i remember from when i was a kid. I def remember hearing about the rpg and saying to myself, “Doesnt Gearbox own that now?”.

  2. tangoliber says:

    Have the Borderlands team develop a Duke Nukem game from start to finish…. I think it will be very good.

    • Baines says:

      Borderlands is Gearbox’s best game, and it is honestly kind of mediocre itself. It is saved in part by being long and having loot. (Though the random weapons and length are contributing factors in one of its design issues themselves, in the over-importance of RPG-style levels.)

      • Wisq says:

        Matter of opinion. Personally, I used to list Borderlands as one of my favourite FPSes of all time, and Borderlands 2 may well be my #1 favourite.

        An interesting and highly combo-able skill system, drop-in-drop-out multiplayer that most people aren’t even aware of until their friends drop in, fun characters and plot, lots of crazy loot that’s usable in near-infinite awesome combinations, strong female characters throughout (completely bucking the usual sexist industry trend), a plethora of interesting missions, and tons of humour and pop culture references.

        Makes me all the more baffled that Gearbox can release such shite alongside Borderlands. But I guess that’s just one team.

        • Smoky_the_Bear says:

          Sadly all of these things are cancelled out by the Jar-Jar Binks of video gaming, Claptrap.

          In all seriousness though you’d think Gearbox could make a decent Duke game, its about as silly as Borderlands and they do know how to make a decent FPS.

          It’s baffling to me that they’ve managed to do plenty of good stuff. Borderlands, Brothers in Arms series. Their Half-Life stuff was decent even when compared to the original game, they had a lot to do with Counter-Strike too. Then they manage to release Duke Nukem Forever and Aliens: Colonial Marines, 2 of the biggest turkeys in gaming history.

          • toxic avenger says:

            Don’t kid about Claptrap! He is, in all seriousness, the blackface equivalent for all socially inept video game nerds, who still make poo poo and pee pee jokes well beyond years when its expected.

      • crumbs says:

        Man, I absolutely agree, and the fact that I’ve bought it and feel kinda distanced by the fact that it felt…okay-ish, not really worth that much time (and yeah, personal opinion, I’m not saying it’s a bad game).

        But sometimes I feel like the fact that I both know about, and not care for, Borderlands, is the only reason my thoughts on their general treatment towards customers and so forth isn’t the majority.

        I’m actually still stuck on the whole “season pass doesn’t actually mean everything in our case” deal. Yeah, I bought one, and I would never have cared enough to play again to access the other stuff, but it seems like they can get away with being misleading just because the product’s good. Plus, I mean, shit. I don’t care if you can find something more expensive, that DLC still seems crazy expensive.

        This is the one time I’ve encountered where the game’s community actually SHOULD act more entitled. It’s silly that they can’t immediately be certain what they’re getting when they buy a “GOTY” version. Those customers are an enormous amount of folks supporting a surprise, massive hit franchise. It’s okay to expect a little love in order to maintain your interest. Or even more value for the entirely optional extra content you can purchase.

        I just don’t see where all the love’s coming from.

      • gummybearsliveonthemoon says:

        I’d argue their best game is Half Life: Opposing Forces.

  3. trjp says:

    There’s something entirely “post modern Duke” about that parting shot and it gives me an idea.

    We should develop an FPS in the style of Duke but replacing Duke with Frankie Boyle. Rab Florence knows Frankie – they’ve worked together a few times IIRC – and we know he plays games (at least in his ever-weirder short stories in his books) so what’s to lose?

    “It’ll be interesting to see if that makes it in?!”

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      Hehe, like the idea. To be truly brilliant though, the pig policemen have to be replaced by English politicians and every time you use a urinal he has to crack a joke about Kerry Katona.

  4. Chicago Ted says:

    Just rename it Nuke Dukem

    • Geebs says:

      It’s a game about a radioactive monarch sorting out the Honours List.

  5. Teovald says:

    Am I the only one that spent some good time with Duke Nukem Forever ?
    Yes, it was a very average FPS but with great nostalgia value.

    • GallonOfAlan says:

      Well, I derived some enjoyment from guessing which was the big-name FPS that influenced the design of each section. “Hey! They must have done this level when Half-Life 2 was huge!” and so on.

  6. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    I think this calls for a Duke Nukem Jam.

  7. Allenomura says:

    Eh. Gaming’s better with an active, irreverent, detached action brand in it. Just something that plays off of genre tropes, and there’s explosions, perhaps some commentary and silly weapons and aliens. That’s dumb fun, and I think there’ll always be a place for it. No, CoD doesn’t count, because its creators still insist it’s not playing it for laughs!
    (Bad Company 3, where you at?)

    • Bull0 says:

      Does Duke Nukem really count either?

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      Serious Sam?

      • misterT0AST says:

        And Hard Reset, and Shadow Warrior, and the new Wolfenstein.

    • Sparkasaurusmex says:


      • Allenomura says:

        SRIV’s a very good response. It fits that description well. (I had little interest in Marvel Gangstas, though, so I’ve not played it myself – I prefer the earlier games.) As for Serious Sam, that’s definitely a different take on the style used in Duke Nukem.

  8. Spinoza says:

    CookPassBabtridge Is Not Amused

  9. Noodlemonk says:

    Back when Interceptor Entertainment was trying to making the jump from modding team to professional studio, they were working on the Duke Nukem 3D: Reloaded, but when Gearbox took over the rights, I believe Gearbox also put that on hold.

  10. Alexander says:

    A Duke Nukem reboot would be nice, next-gen and all that shit. But really, I hope Gearbox are currently working on a major reboot.

    • The Random One says:

      If so I hope Anthony Burch is writing it. He’s the only one there I can be sure can correctly define “satire”. And “feminism”.

  11. Allenomura says:

    What has Interceptor to say about all this? They are/were busy finishing their game up, and that’s been thrown into an unknown status, I guess, now. But, they haven’t issued as much as a “no comment”, because…?

  12. Philomelle says:

    “Sadly Gearbox have yet to issue a public apology to everyone for releasing Duke Nukem Forever. Heyooo.”

    Shouldn’t 3D Realms be doing that? Pretty sure one of them already confirmed that Gearbox didn’t contribute to the gameplay, plot and art in any way, they simply polished the game into something vaguely functional and released the result.

    Which, you know, they did a good job at! DNF is incredibly bug-free and never once crashed, froze or glitched on me throughout the entire campaign. Unfortunately, it’s also an incredibly bad game that could have used some bugs to distract people from its inherent badness.

  13. Bull0 says:

    Noteworthy as the latest example of 3D Realms’ crazy shenanigans, but that’s about it.

  14. LooneyPoirot says:

    I’m in the mood to serve legal challenges and make you new IPs…And I’m all out of new IPs… sigh….

  15. c-Row says:

    They should stop bothering and concentrate on the Homeworld HD versions instead.

    • vivlo says:

      i don’t get why that is taking so long. It’s taking, like, forever.

    • Werthead says:

      I await these with interest, but I’m much more interested in SHIPBREAKERS. I can still play the original HOMEWORLD games (did so a couple of months ago), but the new game has me intrigued.

  16. Ishbane says:

    Duke Nukem hasn’t starred in a good game for almost twenty years […]

    Bullshit, 1999 Duke Nukem on GBC was awesome as fuck.

    Kids these days expect only babes and cheesy one-liners so much that even Manhattan Project had to have them. It’s all DNF had besides its bland gameplay as well.
    Wish Apogee3D Realms’d make a proper Duke Nukum again, not some lame fps.

    • The Random One says:

      I remember Duke Nukem: Zero Hour, which also came that year but for the N64, being rather good. But I was like fourteen at the time.

  17. Runic says:

    Duke Nukem will forever remain one of the greatest videogame protagonists of all time, despite the franchise itself suffering from these legal troubles and the like. I found Duke Nukem Forever “okay” while not a 9/10 and enjoyed it.

    I can’t even fathom how someone can ask “who gives a shit about Duke Nukem” -obviously just isn’t a persons cup of tea or they haven’t been gaming during the golden years of Duke ( too young ) or just plain clueless to what defines “win.”

    Duke Nukem is awesome, he rips off Gordon Freemans head and ****s down Solid Snake’s neck while not being afraid of Quake, and as a videogame hero he shall always remain so. It’s the puny mortals making mediocre/bad games about him, the Duke himself rules for all eternity with bal… fists of steel.

    • Jenks says:

      I couldn’t care less about Duke Nukem, it was a pretty good FPS released a few months before what is my favorite FPS of all time, Quake. Duke Nukem felt like the last Wolfenstein/Doom clone, while everything we’re playing almost 20 years later still feels like a Quake clone. He may not be ‘afraid of Quake,’ but Quake sure as shit made him irrelevant in a hurry.

      • Runic says:

        Whether you accept it or not, back when Duke3D came out the game factually had vaurious features and engine technology never ever before seen in videogames, along with the amount of detail paid to surroundings ( play billiard etc ) and asfar as I’m concerned Duke has infinitely more character than Doom or Quake, especially the latter being quite generic, then already.

        • Poppin says:

          Duke kicks ass! And as for Quake, whilst it was insanely fun, it was nothing more than Doom with better graphics.

    • CheeseY says:

      I think the emphasis was “who gives a shit about duke nuke em _ANYMORE_”

      Being that it’s been 15 years or so since his hay-day… We’ve all gone (hopefully) from being immature teenagers to 30-somethings… Whilst i can barely say this is true for my self, my sense of humour has at least evolved.

      Is shooting strippers and catching aliens going to a urinal still what you’d consider the epitome of dangerous/ cutting edge game design?
      It was funny to my teenage mind, 15 years ago.. But a game containing tits is hardly a new thing in 2014.

      They should concentrate more on the things that truly made it unique — weapon variety / functionality … Decent level design, with atmosphere…

      Apparently though, the developers think tits and shock value is where its at – hence why DN:F and any future duke games _will_ suck.
      There’s something to be said for maturing — even if it’s just your sense of humour.

  18. Gap Gen says:

    Thanks for making me google Clown’s Pocket at work, btw.

  19. waaaaaaaals says:

    Gearbox were pretty much obligated to do this, doing nothing would risk creating precedence for the use of the IP without their permission.

  20. jalf says:

    The actual legal complaint is a thing of brilliance:

    It is worth remembering: Prior to Gearbox’s involvement, 3DR languished for over twelve unsuccessful years trying to get the Duke Nukem Forever (“DNF”) videogame off the ground, and was famously incapable of achieving its goal.

    (emphasis theirs)

    Desperate for help—and on the verge of even further ruin, now that 3DR could no longer fund either development or litigation—3DR effectively asked its friends at Gearbox for a life preserver. Specifically, 3DR asked Gearbox to rescue 3DR from the Take 2 litigation and, if possible, to complete the technological jigsaw puzzle of a videogame that 3DR had been calling DNF.


  21. SavageTech says:

    I’d like to posit that “Viceroy Explosion: Large-Scale Devastation” would be an equally fitting title, possibly even better since the Duke name is essentially tarnished forever.

  22. Gvaz says:

    IP law is fucking stupid and should be abolished for real