Current owner of the Duke Nukem IP Gearbox Software has filed suit against Apogee Software and Interceptor Entertainment over the companies' intentions to release Duke Nukem: Mass Destruction.
Earlier this month, Interceptor Entertainment, the developer of the recent Rise of the Triad remake, and 3D Realms launched a teaser website for Duke Nukem: Mass Destruction, a top-down action role-playing game for PC and PlayStation. The site was counting down to Feb. 25, but the countdown clock has since been obscured with a fake emergency broadcast signal.
3D Realms, whose logo appears on the website, exists today in name only, after being effectively closed in 2009. The studio's legal name is now Apogee Software.
The suit, filed in Texas, shows that Gearbox is seeking damages for trademark and copyright infringement, which “stems from efforts to illegally exploit Gearbox’s intellectual property rights in the Duke Nukem video game franchise.”
“You and 3DR are colluding with other, equally-unauthorized parties to develop a new video game based upon the Duke Nukem IP,” Gearbox’s lawyers said in a cease and desist letter to 3D Realms’ CEO Scott Miller. “No developer reveres Duke Nukem and its fans more than Gearbox; it’s why Gearbox committed so much to rescuing Duke back in 2010. As you well know: 3DR’s rights were reduced under the terms of that rescue, not expanded.”
3D Realms’ Scott Miller and George Broussard responded to the letter with a signed document that acknowledges Gearbox’s rights for the Duke Nukem IP. But unless we’re supposed to understand the emergency signal on the teaser website as a cancellation notice, it seems as if Duke Nukem: Mass Destruction is still going forward.
Gearbox’s Steve Gibson told Polygon that the current lawsuit is simply a formality and that he's confident Gearbox will succeed. “We tried to avoid court,” he said.
In 2010, the Borderlands developer announced it acquired the rights for the Duke Nukem IP. It helped see Duke Nukem Forever to the finish line after more than a decade in development, and announced plans to develop other games in the franchise.
"Gearbox was the only home appropriate for the Duke Nukem brand," Broussard said at the time. "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."
In 2013, 3D Realms sued Gearbox alleging unpaid Duke Nukem Forever royalties, but then abandoned its claim, and apologized for what it called a “misunderstanding.”