Duke Nukem Forever cost 3D Realms head up to $30 million - Pitchford

Gearbox CEO estimates George Broussard sunk tens of millions into once-vaporware shooter prior to studio's closure.


3D Realms spent a staggering 12 years trying and failing to bring Duke Nukem Forever to market. Though the emotional toll that effort exacted on the studio remains unsaid, Duke Nukem Forever savior Gearbox Software has affixed a price tag to the labor. In an interview with CVG, Gearbox president and CEO Randy Pitchford said that 3D Realms head George Broussard spent $20 million to $30 million of his own money to finish Duke Nukem Forever.

Broussard spent a princely sum in turning Duke into the killing machine that he is.
Broussard spent a princely sum in turning Duke into the killing machine that he is.

"George Broussard is not a poor man but I would estimate that he lost $20-$30 million dollars of his own money on Duke Nukem Forever--I don't care who you are, that's a hell of a lot of money," Pitchford said. "He was committed to Duke to the point of insanity."

Pitchford's comments came as he detailed the events that led to Gearbox's acquisition of the Duke Nukem IP earlier this year. "There was the bad news in May 2009," Pitchford said. "You all saw the stories--3D Realms was shutting down, Duke was dead. That sucked. It was tough being in Dallas, many of my friends lost their jobs.

"I spoke to George Broussard, and he said, 'Randy, this is the worst day of my life,' but you could hear in his voice there was more," he continued. "This was 12 years of his life. Try and imagine what you've achieved in 12 years. Gearbox has made 15 games in that time."

Duke Nukem Forever returned to relevancy in August, when Gearbox trotted out a playable version of the game at the 2010 Penny Arcade Expo. The Borderlands studio went on to announce that it had acquired the Duke Nukem IP in perpetuity, including Duke Nukem Forever and all future developments in the franchise, from 3D Realms.

At that time, Pitchford emphasized that the game being brought to market was one and the same that 3D Realms had been toiling away at, confirming that he had hired many of the original Duke Nukem creators to finish the game. It is currently slated to arrive in 2011 on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC, and demo access is being promised to those who purchase Borderlands: Game of the Year Edition.

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