Gearbox acquires Duke Nukem IP

PAX 2010: CEO Randy Pitchford announces purchase of all future rights to 3D Realms' storied action hero; Borderlands free update with raised level cap coming soon.

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Who was there: Gearbox Software claimed the 2010 Penny Arcade Expo as its own on Friday with the shock announcement that it would see Duke Nukem Forever to the finish line in 2011. On hand to discuss the move, as well as the rest of Gearbox's announced development slate, was CEO Randy Pitchford, chief creative officer Brian Martel, creative director Mikey Neumann, licensing head David Eddings, and cinematics director Brian Thomas.

"Always bet on Duke."

What they talked about: Though Friday's revelation that Gearbox would be finishing up 3D Realms' Duke Nukem Forever was perhaps the biggest news out of the Penny Arcade Expo, the studio followed it up with another headline-worthy announcement. Namely, Pitchford revealed in front of the PAX 2010 collective that Gearbox has acquired the Duke Nukem intellectual property, including Duke Nukem Forever and all future developments in the franchise, from 3D Realms. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Explaining how the deal went down, Pitchford noted that he and Martel had actually met while working at 3D Realms, way back in 1997, and Gearbox still had a strong relationship with George Broussard and others at that studio. "I feel like I owe Duke Nukem my career," he said, before bringing up last year's turmoil of 3D Realms' closure and the lawsuits that resulted. "That day sucked, but you can't kill Duke."

He said that even with the game's future grim, about eight or nine former 3D Realms developers continued to work on Duke Nukem Forever, including Allen Blum, who has been working on the franchise since its inception in 1991. The game they were making is the same that is being made at Gearbox, he said, noting that Blum and the others--but not Broussard--are still on the team. He also said that the game is currently in the polish phase and that "arrangements need to be made with first parties and retailers." Apparently, 2K Games hadn't even informed retailers of the game's existence until it was announced on Friday.

"The game that is happening is 3D Realms' game," he said. In an emotional moment, Pitchford went on to say that, "I didn't buy [Duke Nukem] from them; they sold it to me," emphasizing how protective 3D Realms has been of its quintessential action hero.

"Gearbox was the only home appropriate for the Duke Nukem brand," Broussard said as part of a statement. "They are very talented and possess the perfect perspective and understanding of the brand. Their vision for its future direction is exciting and unbelievable. I personally cannot wait for fans to see their unique take on the franchise."

"The Gearbox Software team and I are ecstatic that we have grown to a position to be able to pick up and carry the torch and help Duke rise back to glory in his time of need," Pitchford added. "Fans of the legendary hero and all the incredible talent that have ever helped him all deserve the very best support that we can bring."

For more information on Duke Nukem Forever, check out GameSpot's hands-on with the game from PAX 2010.

As for the rest of what Gearbox has been working on, the team first discussed what was going on with the Borderlands franchise. Namely, Pitchford noted that Borderlands' fourth, and ostensibly final, downloadable content add-on--Claptrap's New Robot Revolution--will arrive on September 28. He also noted that all Borderlands owners will receive a free patch for the game that rebalances it and increases the level cap to 69.

Of that number, Pitchford said that they did not want to alienate Borderlands fans who purchased General Knox for the sake of gaining that DLC's 11-level cap increase. "We realized that if we added eight levels, with the cap at level 61, it wouldn't piss off people who paid for the General Knox DLC." A release date for the free patch has yet to be determined, but Pitchford noted that it should arrive some time around the launch of Claptrap's New Robot Revolution.

Martel then briefly discussed Gearbox's Brothers in Arms franchise, saying that they had nothing to announce today. However, he did emphasize Gearbox's commitment to the franchise, hinting that the series may branch out from the characters established in recent installments. "We'll have some things to talk about soon. We're not ready quite yet to bring it out," Pitchford added.

Martel also didn't have any news about Aliens Colonial Marines, noting that it has been difficult to talk about the game due to involvement from rights owner 20th Century Fox and publisher Sega. However, Pitchford seemed to bend the rules a bit, calling for a rapid-fire succession of screenshots of the game to be shown on the conference hall's big screen.

Though brief, the shots showed a group of marines engaging richly detailed alien drones in what appeared to be a space station's corridors. The shots were highly reminiscent of the tone established by Ridley Scott's 1979 original Alien.

Quote: "Always bet on Duke."--Randy Pitchford.

Takeaway: The next game Gearbox will deliver is the Duke Nukem Forever that has been more than a decade in the making, with many of the original developers still working on the project. Of course, fans of the series probably won't believe it until they see it; a fact Gearbox recognized and promised to do something about as soon as possible.

Discussion

192 comments
Wylen0
Wylen0

Hurray for gearbox, they are really good developers!

Hurvl
Hurvl

When there's no more room in development hell, the dead games will walk the Earth.

ebookerd1
ebookerd1

Gearbox continually bringing the awsome back to gaming!!! :)

Digital_DJ_00
Digital_DJ_00

Well whatever the case, I'm not one bit excited for Duke Nukem Forever considering that all the previous titles were mediocre... "Always bet on Duke" Is that your way of hyping your fanbase after 13 years of waiting? Honestly, I was expecting a much bigger debut for this game after all this wait.... But then again; I wasn't expecting this game to come out at all.

UltimateRAGEX
UltimateRAGEX

This game has been a joke for like forever (pun intended) :)

chilipalm
chilipalm

Thank god Broussard's not on the team. He's the one that held back the development of the game all these years.

e-EqualsMcp
e-EqualsMcp

@Digital_DJ_00 Duke Nukem 3D came out in 1996 not '97. And, yes, Duke Nukem forever was announced in 97, if you can count thats 13 years of development time. Everything mrzero said is correct.

Digital_DJ_00
Digital_DJ_00

@mrzero1982pt2 "forever started out with the quake 2 engine. this was in 1997 when i was beginning high school" The first Duke Nukem came out in 1997...right? Are you saying Duke Nukem Forever was announced on the same year the first Duke Nukem title was released?

mrzero1982pt2
mrzero1982pt2

@Digital_DJ_00 forever started out with the quake 2 engine. this was in 1997 when i was beginning high school. then it jumped to the unreal engine a year later. basically a port to another engine. it jumped from those to being rumored to go to consoles. and these days if a game comes out on pc, it is destined to come out on consoles, so, i am not trying to say you are WRONG, but you should really read up on things too. just enjoy the fact that the game is coming out now

IWKYB
IWKYB

So they are starting from scratch then? 3D realms just took money and did nothing. I want Borderlands 2 more than this hyped dinosaur.

Digital_DJ_00
Digital_DJ_00

@mrzero1982pt2 http://pc.ign.com/articles/088/088645p1.html This is the oldest article I could find concerning Duke Nukem Forever production status... Does it mention that production was delayed due to next-gen consoels? No. If you can find an article or some kind of proof to back up your statement then I'll admit faulty. And yes I perfectly remember Starcraft:Ghost. However, that game wasn't "officially" scrapped due to production delays, it was scrapped because Blizzard CEO's flat-out didn't like the direction it was going in. So they canceled it. After all I don't blame them; they have a staggering track record for award-winning and critically acclaimed games. All of which sold millions. Though their production speed is very questionable...

kvan33
kvan33

Gearbox is a talented shop. Still I have reservations that they can turn this aged franchise into a current gen masterpiece. I don't see multiplayer being anything that can trump CoD or Halo, so it'll need to have one stellar single player campaign...and a boat load of great reviews.

The_Godfather_
The_Godfather_

they finally completely dumped 3D Realms, huh? What a sad ending for 3D Realms..

gbrading
gbrading moderator

The story behind this game gets more convoluted and incredible every time I see it.

jadefury27
jadefury27

all this over a game that wont rate any higher than a 7 on any game site.

PcGamingRig
PcGamingRig

nice so hopefully if Forever is a flop because of its development problems we may see a proper current gen Duke game anyway. :)

SirMordredX
SirMordredX

Well hopefully we'll be seeing a lot more of the Duke now that a [I hate to say this...sorry 3D Realms...] competent developer is working on the franchise finally. @fLaMbOaStiN Duke Nukem 4-Player...Duke and three chicks to save the universe. Sounds good.

ffviiifreak
ffviiifreak

Duke Nukem to be released never. So stop stringing us along.

fLaMbOaStiN
fLaMbOaStiN

I loss excitement for DNF about 5 years ago, but now i'am actually more excited then ever for this game! Gearbox is a awsome company and i'am interested in seeing what spin they put on DNF; even tho they claim the games pretty much 3D Realms it's interesting to see what little touches Gear Box will add.. And it'll defiantly be interesting to see the next Duke Nukem Game after DNF that'll be tottaly developed by Gear Box.. Imagine a Boarderlands / Duke Nukem Hybrid lol :D awsome!

mrzero1982pt2
mrzero1982pt2

@Digital_DJ_00 not really. the game was in development when i was 14. it was scrapped for development for the ps2 and xbox and then ported over to development on the current gen systems(newer pc's xbox 360, ps3). it is common for a game company to stop development on a game for a console to send it to another console. remember starcraft ghost? that was scrapped, but not before there were rumors that it was being held off to be developed for the wii. developers always do it. the game they had at PAX was the same game from what it looks like that were in tons of duke nukem forever trailers last year. so... get your facts straight

Rottenwood
Rottenwood

@Rickystickyman But StarCraft 2 simply took a long time to develop; it never became the complete punchline that Forever has become. DNF is literally the defining term for vaporware now... that's a much different animal, marketing-wise, than 'man, Blizzard takes forever to launch their games.' Once Blizzard announced StarCraft 2, it developed slowly but surely into a future blockbuster. It hasn't died seven times on the operating table like poor Duke. I'd love to be wrong, but it's hard to fight a decade of Internet humor and lost expectations.

ryuz4kee
ryuz4kee

@Rottenwood Definately not true, most of the game (if not all) is already done by now. All Gearbox has to do is test for bugs and polish it up a lot.

PixelAddict
PixelAddict

Wow, I wasn't really thinking about or planning on getting this or any other Duke Nukem game, but with Gearbox now running the IP, I'm interested. After the incredible Borderlands, I'm watching out for anything Gearbox-related.

Rickystickyman
Rickystickyman

@Rottenwood I have to disagree, while agree. The game can still be good, and it can still live up to its hype. I mean look at starcraft 2? It took them like 11 years or something and it lived up (somewhat) to its hype. And there isn't a new blockbuster shooter coming out every 2 weeks. The only ones I can think of are Doom. Actually that's it! There have been some straight to DVD but that isn't blockbuster. I think the Duke Nukem game should come out, but they better have something REALLY good or it will fall flat on its face.

Rottenwood
Rottenwood

Just let it die already. The game is basically an urban legend now; a running joke for hardcore gamers. Even if some company DOES manage to finish it (and let's face it; the game has to be re-developed from scratch at this point), there's no way to make a product that can meet the expectations that a decade of hype has raised. Half the FPS audience will have never even heard of the franchise by the time it drops (if it ever does) and with a new blockbuster FPS game coming out every two weeks, it's not like the market is hurting for more Duke. I loved DN3D, but guys, it's over.

BlackPhoenixBG
BlackPhoenixBG

I wish companies would stop rap*ng duke's corpse and let him rot in peace once and for all..

nate2442
nate2442

@Digital_DJ_00 100% Agree...

Digital_DJ_00
Digital_DJ_00

"The next game Gearbox will deliver is the Duke Nukem Forever that has been more than a decade in the making" Let's be realistic here Gamespot, it hasn't been in -production- for a decade, it's been on -hold- for a decade... There's a big difference. As for the news that it's finally back in production status; it's gonna take another year just to get the graphics engine up to par with today's standards due to the enormous delay that this game has suffered.

Black_Adder_
Black_Adder_

Haven't seen it of course, but from last experiences the big franchise names actually bring the big disappointment lately. Fallout 3 looked more like post apocliptic Elder Scrolls, FFXIII had my award of all time stupidest story line and the most boring gameplay. When there will be some pics or trailers then I'll start to think about DN.

lil_luz_10
lil_luz_10

yay!!! so a game that will have connectivity issues if they throw in a MP!!!

Cloud-Zehro
Cloud-Zehro

@dynomitemasta From what I heard, Gearbox pretty much had to start from ground zero, cause everything was such a mess... Personally, I don't think 3D Realms deserves any credit, all they gave us was lies and tom foolery, I bet they weren't even working on the game... They just owned the rights to the name... @zideeq And I quote from the Duke himself... "You're an inspiration for birth control."

P90E21
P90E21

Oh and most importantly lets not forget ALL THE BABES to see and save ^o^. Hail to King again 2011. Welcome back Duke.

P90E21
P90E21

Well they spent the time making it with excuses included on every disc ^^. But I am glad to see some one get it together and give the King another chance at life. I just hope it lives up to the Duke Legacy.

dynomitemasta
dynomitemasta

So Gearbox is only putting on a final coat of wax then.... that's a relief, it would be a shame working on something for that long and then someone coming in and taking all the credit.... it's gotta be a bitter sweet moment for 3D Realms, I know some of the crew has got to be pissed. At least the franchise can move forward now.... and NOT in a Matt Hazard sorta way, I hope.

zideeq
zideeq

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rebel_punk34
rebel_punk34

Well we waited a long time, let's hope this game will be more bang for it's buck. Please let it be worthy of 60$...I beg you gearbox...

Predalien3000
Predalien3000

I don't know about you guys, but I'm glad to see Gearbox pick-up the franchise and not just some random company buy it from 3D Realms and ruin it. I haven't played much of Gearbox's games, but really I thank Gearbox a lot for the Opposing Force expansion for Half-Life.

maxwell97
maxwell97

Gearbox is definitely a good developer, but I'm worried whether this will warrant a purchase. Duke3D is a classic, but most of what made it stand out at the time - environmental destruction, working mechanisms, flashy weapons - have become standard. The only thing that might give it a leg up on a brand-new IP is the character of Duke himself, which is admittedly pretty awesome.

Neo_Sarevok
Neo_Sarevok

@ RiP_ili That's the exact reason why it is taking so long: The developers keep tearing it down and building it back up, but the developers keep getting shuffled around and incur financial complications, so no one can settle on anything. No doubt for Gearbox to release this as soon as 2011 means there was preexisting content - as there should be! Check out the evolution of Duke Nukem: Forever's trailers from its infancy. It gives a great appreciation of how the game has evolved and potentially how many times they've had to tear down and replace their old work: http://videogames.yahoo.com/events/plugged-in/duke-nukem-forever-twelve-years-of-trailers/1409747

parrot_of_adun
parrot_of_adun

@RiP_ili That's actually mostly the reason. It started with the id Tech 2 (Quake II engine), then moved to the Unreal engine, then id Tech 4, and now the Unreal 3 engine.

zaibutzu
zaibutzu

A DOCUMENTARY can be made chronicling the making of this game!!! That would be awesome

RiP_ili
RiP_ili

How does a game take 10 years or more to make? Wouldn't they have to start over at some point due to new hardware and technological advances, just to keep the graphics and gameplay somewhat relevant?

itBit
itBit

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