3D Realms sues Gearbox alleging unpaid Duke Nukem Forever royalties

Developer files breach of contract suit claiming Gearbox failed to pay more than $2 million in royalties and advances.

3D Realms has filed a new breach of contract suit against Gearbox Software, claiming the studio failed to pay more than $2 million in royalties and advances related to Duke Nukem Forever. The lawsuit--obtained by PCGamesN--stems from the 2010 agreement between the two parties that saw the Duke Nukem IP officially shifted to Gearbox.

In addition, 3D Realms claims Gearbox blocked an independent audit of royalties earned on Duke Nukem Forever, a point the 2010 agreement should have kept them from doing.

"3D Realms has therefore been required to file this lawsuit to enforce the purchase agreement, to recover the amounts due and owing from Gearbox and to enforce the audit right provided by the agreement to enable it to conduct an audit of Gearbox's royalties," reads a line from the statement.

Gearbox Software issued a defiant statement to GameSpot on the lawsuit, calling out 3D Realms founder Scott Miller as someone who has had "more lawsuits than shipped games." The company's full statement is below.

"Ironically, Scott Miller himself provided the best response when he wrote: "Filed lawsuits are entirely one-sided statements, based on knee-deep BS and with more spin than a top," a Gearbox representative said.

"The reality is that Apogee / 3D Realms (3DR) received the full benefit of its bargain. Gearbox, in its fulfillment of its commitments, enriched 3DR, saved 3DR from its debts and rescued 3DR from its litigation surrounding its failed dozen-plus year attempt to ship Duke Nukem Forever."

"Everyone wished that 3DR's game was better received by the market for the benefit of gamers and profit to its creators. While 3DR might not wish the reality that the results make clear, 3DR turned out to be the only beneficiary of the deal. Gearbox Software, meanwhile, experienced damage to its credibility and loss of its money."

"It's unfortunate that 3DR did not abide by the objective audit rules outlined in the agreement and even more unfortunate that it chose to blame its failures on Gearbox. Since 3DR seems unable to accept reality and has chosen to become hostile, Gearbox is forced to bring its actual claims of breach of contract against 3DR and is confident Gearbox will prevail."

"Perhaps the lesson learned here is to never enter a gaming business deal with a person who has had more lawsuits than shipped games."

3D Realms exists today in name only, after being effectively closed in 2009. The studio's legal name is now Apogee Software.

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

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Discussion

140 comments
the_bi99man
the_bi99man

Duke Nukem forever sold enough copies for royalties to be an issue?

quakke
quakke

I really hope there will be a Duke Nukem game(s)s still in the future but it has to be totally opposite to DNF,ACM and CoD. I want to see Duke as more-like Duke 3D (quite possibly the most fun fps game ever created). I had countless hours of fun playing Duke 3D as kid. Still own all the versions i had as kid. PC,PS1 and N64.

burgo81
burgo81

hehehe hahahaha bwha bwha bwha bwha is this a joke these morons who castrated duke nukem are wanting royalties for the biggest pile of cow dung to come to this generation of gaming, lets put it into context, you offer to create the elixir of life take half of the kingdoms money and after 7 years, you give them cyanide then you rub salt into the wound you ask for expenses for creating the said cyanide. just do what you should have done and hang you head in shame and piss off

Tychobrahi
Tychobrahi

As Bixby Snyder would say "I'd buy that for a dollar!"

LiquidGold
LiquidGold

I hope you burn in gamers hell Gearbox and that you have to play DNF and ACM for all eternity. You are an embarrassment to gaming world with you half ass'd game studio, lies and your money stealing habits. Oh and Randy P, I'm just waiting for that day I bump into you, the curb will taste nice to go with your lies.

dujubear
dujubear

Seems like Gearbox always have problems with games they accept to develop.

hyksiu
hyksiu

After all that time this game is still in the news.

Gravity_Slave
Gravity_Slave

Next to the Star Wars Prequals...DNF was the biggest (gaming) letdown of the 21st century...oh wait, Don't forget Colonial Marines...ug...now I'm depressed...

Ripper_TV
Ripper_TV

Despite my hate towards Gearbox, 3DRealms seem to take the medal "Biggest scumbags on planet Earth" in my book.

Ripper_TV
Ripper_TV

And we thought the drama has ended after 14 years. It has only begun! And I love it.

tu2pac
tu2pac

LOL. Gearbox lost money on this game ...

leeko_link
leeko_link

Will considering some of the ideas kept in this not-so finished game were original 3D Realms, perhaps they do deserve some royalties in there. This situation would either had a positive or negative outcome depending on if Gearbox wanted to share the royalty or not.

iMpLuX
iMpLuX

This article makes me cry :(

To this day I still don't think I've sunk as much time into a game as I did DN3D in the late '90's. Had it for PC, PS1 and N64.

I wholeheartedly thank 3DR for selling the IP to Gearbox and Gearbox for releasing the game, as crappy as it was.

And LOL @ Gearbox saying it was DNF that hurt their Cred. Pretty sure their cred disappeared last February long before this lawsuit hit. Also Gamers already forgave Gearbox for DNF at launch since it 'technically' wasn't their game. Gearbox just doesn't want Sega to sue. Let 3DR do whatever they want.

pszone
pszone

I don't think 3D Ralms should get money because let a lot people down and so has Gearbox for making game short and rip people off so there are bad each other.

drgribb
drgribb

Wow, what a way to repay the people that straight up rescued your company and its game and actually paid to ship it and ate all the costs, including those  from when the game performed more poorly than expected... :'(


To be honest, I loved the game.  I actually bought the special Ball's of Steel edition and everything.  I know that makes me part of a very small minority that didn't hate the game, but whatever- I always bet on Duke :)  This news is pretty disappointing though :'(

shadgrindk
shadgrindk

Top two most pathetic law suits of all time:

1.) Elgin Baylor sues the Clippers for wrongful termination.  A 20 year total failure as a basketball GM blames his LONG overdue termination on the owner's alleged racist reasons. 

2.) The closer than I ever thought would happen runner up is 3D realms saying 2 million is owed to them for Duke Nukem Forever.  I didn't even know 2 million dollars were spent for this game, I guess it's hard for there dead company to further embarass itself, but they stuck to working hard at it and found that they could make me laugh at their demise with this one last self-centered  display of insanity.  If I was George Broussard or any of these 3D realms idiots I would consider ritual suicide. 

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

Gearbox is a bunch of thieves.  I hope they are forced to pay.

FlameBoyBen
FlameBoyBen

This gearbox.. they are an extremely dodgy company

Mr_Big_Boss
Mr_Big_Boss

Hopefully this will be the end of Gearbox!

hadlee73
hadlee73

Unfortunately I also know much of Scott Miller's past with the courts. Suing people appears to be his hobby.

deth420
deth420

if only we could all get paid to fuck up!

ghost590
ghost590

its  stupid  when they saved ur game 

inaka_rob
inaka_rob

thats a joke. If not for gear box, duke would have never seen the light of day and 3D would just be remember for spening 10 years on a game that never saw came out. 

cornbredx
cornbredx

Wow.

What a fascinating and strange turn of events.

The DNF legacy continues to be mind boggling and crazy- despite the game itself being somewhat mediocre and stagnant in its appeal.

hatieshorrer
hatieshorrer

How much in royalties could their be last I saw the game was saling for $10.00

TheKemosabe
TheKemosabe

Gearbox's only saving grace is Borderlands at this point

megatronx2
megatronx2

You (gearbox ) went in, saw opportunity to cash in on recognisable brand, snatch it and when it didn't sell well you're blamed 3DRealms. Sure 3DRealms blew up the game, but you guys made a decision to buy it and finish it off.  You knew what you're getting. You had a chance to rebuild the whole game. But you didn't. Cause you're lazy. If contract stated that they are obligated to the royalties, then that's how it should be. Between this and Sega the message you're sending is pretty clear: Gearbox you are bunch of opportunistic bitches. 

yearssomuch
yearssomuch

@dujubear Maybe if they didn't embezzle the money from DNF and ACM into the development of other games, these games would've seen proper development. Pitchford is a liar and a thief, period.

91210user
91210user

@hyksiu yeah, I believe many more to come! It's going to be in the news 'forever' I suppose! I don't like it myself!

yearssomuch
yearssomuch

@Ripper_TV Why, because they made the majority of the game, handed it over to Gearbox, and haven't seen a dime for it?

As I've said multiple times in this thread, Gearbox assumed a $2.9 million debt from 3DR when they took over on DNF, and as part of the contract between the two, Gearbox wouldn't recoup the cost of the loan from the $2 million in royalties that 3DR was owed. NOW, Gearbox is claiming they don't owe 3DR a dime until the loan has been covered.

Face it, Gearbox tried to steal the game and take credit for it, then it turned out to be a giant flop, and now they're trying to weasel their way out of paying what they're contractually obligated to pay.

parrot_of_adun
parrot_of_adun

@leeko_link 3DR pretty much made the whole game. Gearbox just got it working into working order, and Piranha games ported it. 3DR did  indeed get royalties, as they should have, but that's not the issue. The issue is whether they were payed *in full*.

yearssomuch
yearssomuch

@drgribb You're misinformed. Gearbox assumed a $2.9 million debt from 3DR when they took over on DNF, on top of the $2 million they owed to 3DR in royalties. 2.9 + 2.0 = 4.9 million. Now, they're unlawfully ignoring their contract, refusing to pay them the royalties they're owed until the loan has been covered.

Yes, if not for Gearbox, the game would've never released. But that doesn't change the fact that 3DR did most of the work, gave the game to Gearbox to touch up and finish, and now Gearbox is claiming they 'saved' 3DR? Give me a break.

Gearbox needs to go out of business already.

Xtasy26
Xtasy26

@drgribb Agree. I too liked DNF mostly because it was the last hurrah of the 90's type shooter and also because I was waiting 14 years for this game to come out even since I was a kid. 3D Realms should be glad that Gearbox saved their a$$es and brought DNF to market. Duke Nukem 3D was probably the game I spent the most time in back in the 90's.

I am also glad that the Duke Nukem franchise is out of the hands of 3DR or else would have to wait ANOTHER 14 years for the next Duke game. LOL.

debryson
debryson

@shadgrindk Elgin Baylor deserved to be fired. BUT the owner did have racist tendencies. The stuff that came out during that whole thing was unreal.

Gravity_Slave
Gravity_Slave

@FlameBoyBen 

They obviously can't do anything right...Gearbox systematically ruins the coolest stuff of the past

Reuwsaat
Reuwsaat

@deth420 the combination of your post and your avatar made me lol so much

debryson
debryson

@inaka_rob Thats not what its about. I have not personally seen the terms of the contract, but if there was a breach then its in their legal right to pursue those monies. Save a game or not is irrelevant. Its about duty to uphold the contract. Im not saying Gearbox is in violation b/c i don't know, but its how it is and any real business person would do the same.

erix43
erix43

@Strider8009 

Word Up! The new Wolfenstein may give me what I want from that era, right around or close to the Duke Nuke Em days for now though... Good times, immature blood baths, what else could a sexy man like myself ask for? Screw Chuck Norris. 

nanorazor
nanorazor

@TheKemosabe The game is actually made by the Core Studio, instead of a support studio with some Noob devs

deathblow3
deathblow3

@yearssomuch @Ripper_TV are you tripping are what? 2 mill in royalties that game didnt make 2 mill and this crazy contarct that you speak of where they pay a person before his assumed debt is insane. you will need to produce a copy of said contract stating gearbox will assume 2mill in debt but pay royalties before paying the debt.

yearssomuch
yearssomuch

@parrot_of_adun @leeko_link And they weren't. Gearbox refuses to pay 3DR's royalties in full due to the $2.9 million debt Gearbox assumed when they took over on DNF, as part of the contract. It didn't make nearly enough money on the game to cover this contract, so now they're basically telling 3DR to go screw themselves, and that they won't give them a dime until the loan has been covered.

But guess what? Gearbox took the debt, and they're legally binded to it.

deathblow3
deathblow3

@SpartanIVrunner @yearssomuch @dujubear there is no proof of that and gearbox out sourced acm because they couldn't do the whole thing by themselves with their staff size. and dnf  was finished by them they didn't re-image the game just finished what 3dr started 20 years ago.