3D Realms closure confirmed, Take-Two retains Duke Nukem Forever publishing rights

[UPDATE 2] Online accounts finger monetary issues in demise of developer, which still owns IP; publisher says arrangement "did not include ongoing funds for development of the title"; DS, PSP spin-offs "unaffected."


In the 12 years since Duke Nukem Forever was announced in 1997, the game's ever-shifting "when it's done" release date became a running joke in the game industry. Today, though, comes news that few will find funny. According to numerous reports, the elusive shooter's developer, 3D Realms, has informed its staff that it is ceasing operations.

Though it did not explicitly confirm the closure, the recently relaunched Apogee Software and its publishing partner Deep Silver issued a statement saying that they were "not affected by the situation at 3D Realms. Development on the [portable] Duke Nukem Trilogy [series] is continuing as planned." The Apogee label was relaunched by 3D Realms during last year's Electronic Entertainment Expo and was billed as a portable-dedicated branch of the company.

[UPDATE2] Unfortunately, it seems that the rank and file of 3D Realms proper were not so lucky. In response to a flurry of shutdown reports on the studio's official forums, longtime webmaster Joe Siegler issued a glum confirmation. "It's not a marketing thing," he said, addressing theories that the news could be some sort of guerrilla PR campaign. "It's true. I have nothing further to say at this time."

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Adding to the clouds above 3D Realms was a report on Shacknews, which has deep ties to the PC shooter community. Citing "a reliable source," the site reports that employees of the studio were told of the closure this afternoon. The report said that monetary issues were the culprit, which has led many to believe that longtime publishing partner Take-Two had cut off funding for Duke Nuke Forever.

[UPDATE] Citing company policy, Take-Two vice president of communications and public affairs Alan Lewis declined to comment on reports of 3D Realms' closure directly. However, he did say that the company "can confirm that our relationship with 3D Realms for Duke Nukem Forever was a publishing arrangement, which did not include ongoing funds for development of the title. In addition, Take-Two continues to retain the publishing rights to Duke Nukem Forever." Lewis also confirmed that the DNF IP is still owned by 3D Realms.

3D Realms' closure marks a cruelly ironic end to the Duke Nukem Forever saga. After being completely restarted from scratch using the Doom 3 engine, the shooter resurfaced in December 2007 in the form of a brief teaser trailer (above). After a quickly retracted Dallas Business Journal report said that the game was coming to the PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3, several snippets were shown on the Web show of former Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment vice president (and now movie producer) Jason "Jace" Hall.

This year, work appeared to be progressing on Duke Nukem Forever. According to 3D Realms studio head George Broussard's Twitter feed, Take-Two was shown the project on January 26 or 27. He made no subsequent updates about the publisher's reaction to the game, the fate of which is now uncertain. As of press time, requests for comment sent to Broussard had not been answered.

To see the original version of Duke Nukem Forever, check out the trailer below from E3 2001.

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Duke Nukem Forever Official Trailer E3 2001

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Avatar image for 3v1LR0n1N

@soul_reaver_vii well in a manner of speaking i was...i love the game

Avatar image for soul_reaver_vii

@3v1LR0n1N guess you were right on that one lol

Avatar image for 3v1LR0n1N

i have a feeling IF and When Duke Nukem Forever is ever released it will be severly disappointing....but i hope im wrong though

Avatar image for Insanitymanitee

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Avatar image for austinite04

Man I'm ticked that we'll never ever see a Duke Nukem game... I am 28 and back when I was 15 DNF was announced. it's been too long.

Avatar image for insanitycheck7

Duke Nukem rocks!

Avatar image for MetallicFPSNut

Eh, they'd been developing that game since I started gaming.

Avatar image for Coolyfett

Interesting, There just needs to be more games about Greek Mythology. I have never played a Duke Nukem, but I have heard they were fun games. oh well, they got the plug pulled on them so thats life. Im sure their employees will land on there feet.

Avatar image for Alex_09

I never liked the first ones, old school FPSs are brutal for me to play. Still, this is lame for the fans. Reminds me of Dark Sector kind of.

Avatar image for moshel_007

other publishers should learn a lesson from this saga............"refrain using the F word in the title"....lol

Avatar image for Leninade223

The fact that these "Forever" jokes are older than the average development cycle for a game speaks for itself. They could've simply released a "meh" game back in 2000 and they could've started over again with a better sequel. No. Instead they chose to continue development on it and look what ended up happening. The footage released looks alright for a game that was in development for 3 years. But this game wasn't in development for 3 years, it's development cycle is 4 times older than that. These guys deserve to be ridiculed with every tired DNF joke in existence, and believe me, there are plenty of those in the 11 years that have passed since their first trailer was released.

Avatar image for idnut

In the words of Duke Nukem himself: "This sucks."

Avatar image for venasque

I know I will sound harsh saying this, but I'm not exactly surprised. 12 years is a stupid long time to be waiting for one game. It's also a long time for a studio to be unprofitable. They can only make themselves and a publisher money if they actually release a completed title. Until they do they only cost someone money to run and maintain and even a basic understanding of business will tell you when expenditures are higher than income, it can only last for so long. Looking at the above 2001 E3 trailer I am a little confused. That trailer had a lot of work done in it. It wasn't a 20 second teaser, it was showing a lot of finished gameplay elements and environments. Why didn't they just finish that and release it? Why scrap it all and start all over again? Seems such a waste and if it had been released maybe this wouldn't have happened. Maybe we'd all be excited about a new Duke Nukem game that would be coming out, rather than a 12 year long legend, that would never live up to our expectations (look at Too Human). It's a shame though. I hate to seeing studios closing and talented people losing their jobs. =(

Avatar image for KrAzY_Croat

While this news comes bitterly ironic, it's also very unfortunate. As one of the many waiting (forever waiting) to see Duke Nukem shine again, I hope someone else may pick up this project.

Avatar image for Cloud737

@ nappan Yes, and what does that have to do with who has the rights to the IP? I'm guessing you either haven't read the article, forgot about it, or don't know what IP means. :P It means no studio can make a game with elements from Duke Nukem (especially the character) without 3D Realms' permission. Since I'm guessing 3D Realms won't license their IP to someone else, no else one is allowed to make a game off it. Sure, Take-Two still has publishing rights... but the only one that was allowed to make Duke Nukem games has gone under. So, Take-Two has publishing rights for... nothing. Take-Two really can't assign the game to one of it's studios, so publishing rights is really worthless now...unless there is still a possibility that 3D Realms can transfer the IP rights even after it goes under.

Avatar image for SnuffDaddyNZ

i remember this trailer back in 2k1, it looked good, mistake not to release it in 2002.

Avatar image for soupa_mario

@gangsteric No they probably wont.

Avatar image for Ripper_TV

Mmm, people, do you really think they played WoW at work instead of working? Oo

Avatar image for Ripper_TV

plm3d_basic, you got a very reasonable point here, actually. Let me give only one remark.. "Duke Nukem 3-D, which was nothing more than a one trick pony and a ripoff of the Evil Dead series and Doom." Ultimately EVERYTHING is a rip-off. DK3D was a great rip-off, excellent compilation of ideas of others.

Avatar image for LordKevas

omg... It just took like forever to make this game and in the trailers the game looked pretty good. Why the heck were they not able to finish it? XD. Instead they stop the developement and the game will forever known for its lazy frickin developement team who couldn't finish a game but had to re-do it over and over again. And instead of working they played WoW. I love Duke!!! Take 2 gotta do the Duke Forever game some day maybe... whatever happens I will not wait anxiously. I will be happy if they do it. And when they announce that I will once again wait a lifetime for it to be released =)

Avatar image for TheKokopelli

This is not surprising - DukeNukem Forever has been through more changes and rewrites than the US tax code.

Avatar image for gangsterjc

Good now take 2 will finish it.

Avatar image for maverick_76

Man I wish I could have done this in the real world. Manager: Where are my TPS reports? Are they even done!!!!! Me: When its finished I will get it to you, maybe another 10-15 years. Manager: OK, don't worry, we will pay you for all that wasted time too. See you when its finished!

Avatar image for chappy_man

this has been a long time coming, but i have to say no surprise here. a game 10 years in development and always being restarted and never making dates, its just faulty business models, this was bound to happen.

Avatar image for Rottenwood

Yet another story that highlights my mixed feelings regarding software development. Creative citing "when it's done!" is simply unacceptable when there are people investing money into the development of their product. While you can't rush brilliance, you can't leave your backers on the line either. This isn't a charity, it's a business loan. My buddy worked at a development house that just got shut down, and while I feel bad for the lost jobs and projects, I couldn't help but notice that half his work stories revolved around playing 360 games in the common room. With both the business and economy starting to slump, backers aren't going to pay for nerd-boy slumber parties anymore. It was nice to make $70K to play games with your buddies and call it 'U.I. research,' but the Reaper was going to come eventually.

Avatar image for ratm247

i just saw this: << LINK REMOVED >> if this is what it took them 12 years to make, in my opinion its pathetic, and they should be ashamed of themselves. how did they ever expect that to be the best game of all time?

Avatar image for plm3d_basic

3-D Realms deserve to go bankrupt. They haven't developed a single game since Duke Nukem 3-D, which was nothing more than a one trick pony and a ripoff of the Evil Dead series and Doom. They've only published or produced games like Prey, Max Payne, Wolfenstein, and Commander Keen, where they were not directly involved with any of them and thank God. They developed absolutely NOTHING! These people are the ultimate procrastinators who probably go to work drunk or stoned if they even go to "work". Over twelve years and no product. That's a freakin embarassment. To put those years into perspective, The Beatles formed, released every single one of their albums and broke up. During this time they also toured the world several times. Led Zeppelin released 7 albums, 9 singles, and toured around the world, crossing international borders 27 times (not counting mainland Europe.) The United States' entire program to put a man on the moon, from Kennedy's challenge to the landing. Wars: The American War for Independence The United States Civil War World War I The United State's involvement in the Vietnam War World War II and the entire Manhattan Project Bill Clinton finished his presidential term, George W. Bush was elected and re-elected. -- And then the US elected the first Black president. Valve created the original HL, then Steam, HL2, ep1, and ep2 in less time. That like going from first grade to college. These guys shouldn't be praised. They should be ridiculed for the rest of their life and mocked at in the gaming industry for...hmmm let me think.......FOREVER. They failed their fanbase, they failed their investors, and they failed themselves. EPIC FAIL! I love how their last leaked video was two of the lead founders joking around acting like stoners from some Kevin Smith movie and making dumb*ss excuses why they're taking so long, ie "hookers, parties, WOW level 70 character." What a bunch of losers. And to think that they will continue to receive funding from Take Two after that footage. To the employees at 3-D Realms, when you're typing up your resume for another job it would be wise to not list "worked on Duke Nukem Forever" as one of your attributes. LMAO!

Avatar image for necronaux

DN for the touch screen DS... bring it on already!

Avatar image for JackHoleFace00

I hate to sound crass, but in some ways I don't even feel sorry for them. "When it's done it's done"? It'd be one thing if this was a game like one of Blizzard's titles (StarCraft, Diablo, etc.) or Halo, where sometimes it takes more time and what not. But 12 years??! Starting over from scratch like 3 times?!! At some point the 3D Realms needed to stop being cocky and actually release the game. This is a business. They had one breakout game (Duke Nukem 3D), but even that wasn't like one of the biggest blockbusters of all time, to the point where you could justify such a ridiculously long development cycle and become one of the longest standing jokes of the gaming community. I mean, since they first announced it, I graduated from highschool... and college... and have been working for years... and the game still isn't out. Gotta draw the line somewhere.

Avatar image for shemrom

Man, this isn't good

Avatar image for poorisaac

I am going to pick up my copy of Duke Nukem Forever right after I pick up my tickets for the Halo movie at the theater.

Avatar image for Damnation_6

I saw some footage on destructiod of a more recent version of Duke Nuken Forever.....it looked pretty solid. A studio should just buy what was created of Duke Nuken Forever and finish it. Come on...someone buy it already xD

Avatar image for dwanewil

I recall an in in-game comment playing duke with a reference to, I ain't afraid of no quake". I laughed out loud and continued to play the best game to date. Not because it had the best graphics, but because the game play and character was just over the top! I laughed, I got angry, I enjoyed the banter......I don't know why 3d Realms got so caught up in the public reception of the first title and lost focus. It was a great game! However, it was not the graphics that made the game! It was about the attitude! 3D could have released the game, sans cutting edge, "graphics". The game was fun, period. I recall a recent experience of playing GTA 4, and for the most part, the detail of the environment and character models lacked when compared to other titles at the time of release, but the game was fun. I just wish George B. would have realized playing Duke did not have to be on cutting edge of graphics, but excel on gameplay. I think the company got lost trying to be on the cutting edge of graphics and character detail, they forgot the attraction of, "Duke".

Avatar image for BladedNuiasnce

wait if 3d Realms still owns the IP then... they could either choose not to sell it, effectively ending Duke forever, after these handheld games are all release, or pitch it to another publisher... I wish there were more specific details on what EXACTLY is going on! 3D Realms might be closing, but how many times have we seen a studio close, then have 95% of employees start up a new studio under another name... Hopefully they start a new studio then buy the IP from themselves and pick up where they left off (very unlikely)... I was so excited about DNF, huge let down!!!!!!!!!

Avatar image for Theman3006

How come they have so much f****** footage but no God dam game like WTF!!!!

Avatar image for alixkid

So meny good times playing Duke, I hope somehow DNF comes out. Long live the Duke Nukem Legacy so meny games have tried to live vup to him, but none really have. DNF!!!

Avatar image for Princess_Rectum

I die a little inside when I see kids cracking 5-year old jokes about Duke Nukem Forever ("lolol its called forever cuz its taking forever to come out!! GET IT?!?!??!"). They're like those guys that show up late to a rally and pretend that they were in on the cause the entire time. I'm sure their first console was the Playstation 2, and I'm sure they didn't really give a damn about DNF anyways. I doubt 90% of the people cracking jokes would have played the game even if I wasn't "delayed" for well over a decade (It is possible for a game to CEASE development for awhile... not like it was constantly in development for 12+ years..) I mean yeah, it was pretty f'ed up that the game was supposed to come out over a decade ago, and still hasn't (probably never will). Seeing kids on message forums crack the same copied and pasted jokes, is like watching a 14 year old talk about how much Green Day sucks to try and look cool. For them it's more about a trend as opposed to any real personal feelings. Anyways, I guess I could have understood why they kept scrapping then restarting the game. Duke Nukem 3D was awesome, exceeded our expectations, etc. Duke Nukem forever was delayed, put on hiatus, etc. so many times that our expectations were anything but low. If the game was even slightly "meh" in any way, people would be whining, saying about how "a game in development for 12 years shouldn't be like this"

Avatar image for hobotech64

All of a sudden, all those DNF jokes don't seem so funny anymore. I just hope the developers land on their feet somehow, and if DNF must truly bite the dust, at least the Duke Nukem name lives on (Duke Nukem Trilogy, whatever that is, hasn't halted)

Avatar image for arfo

I think for Duke Nukem Forever, I have to wait forever !!!

Avatar image for arfo

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Avatar image for Hillsy_

I remember when they said they were using the Quake 2 engine, then Unreal 1, Unreal 2.. then it seemed Doom 3. They should have just released it, then they could have concentrated on a sequel later. Such a shame. I remember seeing the 2001 video for this, it was shorter than the one shown here, but I thought it was really good. Why didn't you release it then 3D Realms? Too much pride, everything to perfection? I agree with Joshua250 and dark_surge, a pity. I do also hope to see Duke Nukem Forever in some shape or form in the future, if at all possible.

Avatar image for Joshua250

The problem with that is that they didn't have to keep updating and restarting the game just to keep up to date. If everyone did that, we'd never have games. It is impossible to constantly keep up with new hardware changes and develop a game in the timeframe before hardware is updated again. It didn't take 12 years for Crysis to be developed, and that pushed hardware to their limits when it was released. I do hope that we can see Duke Nukem Forever in the future developed by a company with better management than 3D Realms.

Avatar image for dark_surge

I can't believe how many people believe it was a hoax. I just saw a video of unfinished gameplay as well as a show-off of the enemies and I can (sort of) see how it has been taking so long. For example, watch the video, and look at how fluidly the enemies interact with the enviroment. The problem, I think, is that 3D realms was trying to make the game too great...Duke Nukem is their baby, and they didn't want to "fudge" it up. Not to mention that it's hard to finish a game when you have to update the textures, physics, and whatnot to the next generations "standards" every time technology gets better. I have little doubt that the game would have been awesome if it were released. They just simply bit off more than they could chew. Their lofty dreams were greater than their budget. Given time, it would have come out. Hopefully they release a biography of DNF's "life" so we can see what happened from conception to present time...even if only on Youtube. I just scrolled down before hitting "submit" and I saw mide25 gave a link to the video a few posts below. Check it out!

Avatar image for nappan

@mide25: If that is real, I am astounded at how little 12 years got Broussard. "Die b***"?? That isn't satire... that's a shadow of its former self. If it's real.

Avatar image for nappan

@Sangman: Wow, I've never seen someone in clinical denial over a game before. lol. I guess that's a testament to Duke's following. ;)

Avatar image for Joshua250

It looks like 3D Realms is all out of gum. I dunno why anyone is surprised about this news. I like the Duke Nukem series, I played most of the games including the side scrollers, but 3D Realms isn't that smart. They kept restarting the game every few years on different engines. Plus, they had almost nothing to show for it. They should have stuck with what they had in 2001, which looked like it'd be a great game and do the Duke series justice.

Avatar image for King_Jeremy_77

Man, i want DNF!

Avatar image for Sangman

I don't know, I've read some posts from people who think this is all a marketing trick after all and I can understand where they're coming from. Until official statements/that Apogee Twitter Duke Nukem-related update comes I'm gonna keep hoping that this is all a "joke".

Avatar image for mide25

<< LINK REMOVED >> Real footage from DNF if you don't click it to see what it is you will be severely disappointed. This is what Take Two turned down.

Avatar image for nappan

@supatips: I think we can all agree on that.