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Duke Nukem Lawsuit Ends, Gearbox Emerges as "Full and Rightful" Owner

The Borderlands developer settles its lawsuit with 3D Realms and Interceptor Entertainment.


The long-running and much-publicized lawsuit between Gearbox Software, 3D Realms, and Interceptor Entertainment regarding the rights to the Duke Nukem franchise has finally ended. The smoke cleared this week, and Gearbox Software has emerged as the "full and rightful" owner.

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All three companies have issued individual statements regarding the culmination of the legal proceedings.

Terms of the settlement are being kept private, but the joint statement explains that all parties "voluntarily" ended the litigation between each other.

Interceptor boss Frederik Schreiber said: "I'm really happy that the lawsuit between Gearbox, 3DR, and Interceptor has come to an end." He said he's busy with his team right now working on their latest title, the isometric action game, Bombshell.

In 2010, Schreiber announced a new Duke Nukem game called Reloaded. But this game was later canceled, a decision that Schreiber said was his own choice.

"It was my own decision to pull the plug on Duke Nukem Reloaded, even though we were fully allowed to continue development," he said. "I respect Gearbox for supporting a young developer, and I'm glad we can now put this behind us."

3D Realms CEO Mike Nielsen, meanwhile, said in his statement that the company "never intended to cause any harm" to Gearbox or the Duke Nukem franchise.

"When Interceptor acquired a license to develop Duke Nukem Mass Destruction (Duke Nukem Survivor) from 3D Realms, we did so in good faith and were not aware of any conflict," he said. "We never intended to cause any harm to Gearbox or Duke, which is why we immediately ceased development after Gearbox reached out."

Interceptor announced Mass Destruction, a top-down action role-playing game for PC and PlayStation consoles, in February 2014. Just days later, Gearbox sued Interceptor for attempting to "illegally exploit Gearbox's intellectual property rights in the Duke Nukem video game franchise."

Earlier this year, the first footage of Mass Destruction appeared, revealing it had transitioned to become Bombshell. As part of this process, Duke was replaced as the main character by Shelly "Bombshell" Harrison.

Nielsen went on to say that, in an effort to protect and ensure that the Duke Nukem series lives on, it was decided that "a single home serves the IP best," referencing Gearbox.

Finally, Gearbox's statement included a comment from CEO Randy Pitchford, who thanked Nielsen and Schreiber for their words and said he's personally looking forward to Bombshell.

“I genuinely appreciate Mr. Nielsen's and Mr. Schreiber's statement and sincerely offer my best wishes to Interceptor Entertainment and 3D Realms towards their future success," he said. "And, as someone who was part of the 3D Realms team when Bombshell was first imagined, I am excited to see what they have in store for us with their game."

The most recent core Duke Nukem game was 2011's maligned Duke Nukem Forever.

In his 3.5/10 Duke Nukem Forever review, GameSpot critic Kevin VanOrd wrote about the game, "The bland and ugly Duke Nukem Forever turns a famous gaming icon into an embarrassment."

More recently, just last month, Pitchford said Gearbox had started production on a all new, "head-turning" Duke Nukem game.

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