Saturday, 16 May 2009 06:17

Take-Two sues 3D Realms over Duke Nukem no-show

The longest running video game development joke has now hit the court room.  Seems publisher Take Two has not taken kindly to developer 3D Realms wanting to close shop after twelve years of Duke Nukem Forever work.

Many in the industry pretty much thought it may end this way.  After waiting over 12 years for Duke Nukem Forever to emerge from the 3D Realms development bunker, the Duke became prime example of vapourware everywhere.

To bring everybody up to date with whole saga, 3D Realms announced the follow-up to 1996’s Duke Nukem 3D soon after, in 1997.  Supposedly the 3D Realms team, including outspoken project director George Broussard have been hard at work on Duke Nukem Forever since.

But with only the occasional release of in-development snippets and teasers, even the titles initials became a joke.  Juxtaposition ‘Did Not Finish’ if you will.

And so it went on until earlier this month when 3D Realms announced the shutting of the doors .  3D Realms did produce the first person shooter Prey as well as two games in the Max Payne series over the span of intervening years, but just could not get the Duke out those now closed doors.

So that seemed it, a closure of a studio that, through lack of product, cannot afford to be propped up by publishing deals any longer.

But suspicions have been aroused, with corners of the internet suspecting that the closure, complete with group photo is nothing more than a publicity stunt, a viral campaign generator to keep the mythos of DNF alive and well. 
Given Broussard only recently announced that the development team had reached a milestone (there must be a lot of them) in the project, and also recent leaked(?) and now removed footage showing mature sections of game-play and art assets, this viral campaign suspicions looks well founded

Well possibly, but publisher Take-Two has seemingly had enough.

Having forged an agreement with Apogee Software Ltd (owners of 3D Realms) in 2000 for the rights to Duke Nukem Forever, it looks as if the May 6th studio closure announcement was the last straw in this farcical arrangement.

According to a Bloomberg report , Take-Two have decided to sue Apogee over the taciturn Duke.

“Apogee continually delayed the completion date for the Duke Nukem Forever,” Take-Two said in the complaint. “Apogee repeatedly assured Take-Two and the video-gaming community that it was diligently working toward competing development of the PC Version of the Duke Nukem Forever.”
Having payed US$12 million in year 2000 money for the rights, and then forging a new agreement in 2007, it looks like Take-Two have finally learned their lesson and are rolling out their lawyer-bots for more action.  Something the company is used to over the years, being the publisher of the Grand Theft Auto series.

Or maybe Take-Two are in on the whole DNF viral campaign joke also, and it is merely the game press and public that are being taken on the longest vapourware ride in history.

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Mike Bantick

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Having failed to grow up Bantick continues to pursue his childish passions for creative writing, interactive entertainment and showing-off through adulthood. In 1994 Bantick began doing radio at Melbourne’s 102.7 3RRRFM, in 1997 transferring to become a core member of the technology show Byte Into It. In 2003 he wrote briefly for the The Age newspaper’s Green Guide, providing video game reviews. In 2004 Bantick wrote the news section of PC GameZone magazine. Since 2006 Bantick has provided gaming and tech lifestyle stories for, including interviews and opinion in the RadioactivIT section.

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