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3D Realms Sued Over Failed Duke Nukem Forever Plans 180

Take-Two Interactive has now sued 3D Realms over the cancellation of Duke Nukem Forever . Take-Two did not provide continuous funding for the game, but they did pay $12 million for the publishing rights to the game. A Bloomberg report quotes Take-Two's complaint as saying that 3D Realms "continually delayed the completion date" and "repeatedly assured Take-Two and the video-gaming community that it was diligently working toward competing development of the PC Version" of the game. (The complaint refers to 3D Realms as part of Apogee Software, Ltd., not to be confused with Apogee Software, LLC, the publisher behind the still-forthcoming Duke Nukem Trilogy.)
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3D Realms Sued Over Failed Duke Nukem Forever Plans

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  • by VShael ( 62735 ) on Friday May 15, 2009 @07:39AM (#27964155) Journal

    but they'll never see 12 million dollars out of it.

  • by VMaN ( 164134 ) on Friday May 15, 2009 @07:40AM (#27964161) Homepage

    .. that this ugly business is all a hoax, and they are preparing to release it, but that's probably just me in denial :(

    • yes releasing it very soon.. very very soooonn

    • I was with Duke for twelve years, Dr. Hirnficker. We always made plans to go out at nights, but he always had to work late every night. I know kicking alien scumbag asses is a tough job, but every night?

      One day I found a receipt on the floor; it must have fallen out of his wallet. When I read the "new models" and "better engines" line items, I suspected that his staying late on the job wasn't really for more work. I think he was flirting with other technology.

      But despite what you say, Duke never laid a hand on me, I swear. The bruises are just from walking into doorknobs and cupboard handles. Really, Dr., it's true! Duke was always good to me. He was always my friend, my love and my soulmate. We were meant to be together. Forever.

      • Just for the non-german speakers: "Dr. Hirnficker" aktually means "Dr. Brainfucker". :)

        I still await "Herzog Atombombesie Für Immer" though. (Sadly we have no word for "nuke" in German. Who wants to be the first to coin the new term. You know: For the good of humanity. For the fun. To become rich and fam... aaah, who am I telling this? *walks off the stage*)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    surely 3D Realms don't have any financial assets left after going bust ..?

    • by Dissman ( 997434 ) on Friday May 15, 2009 @08:26AM (#27964543)
      They have the Duke Nukem Intellectual Property, as well as whatever other games 3d Realms has produced over the years. Winning that in court would allow them to produce games, as well as movies or anything else. In the long term, it could be worth well north of the 12 million.
      • You don't actually think that Duke Nukem Intellectual Property is going to be worth anything after this debacle, do you?

        I'd think real estate in Phoenix would look quite favourable in comparison.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          I don't know... When Prey (another 3D Realms title that almost became vaporware) was finished by Human Head, it was pretty damn good, in my opinion.

          I'm seriously hoping that another competent studio will pick up the IP and make something just as worthwhile.
      • Could this wind up to be the makings of SCO 2.0?

        With SCO being replaced by 3DS and Novell being replaced by Take 2?

        And a lawsuit induced bankruptcy?

      • by CAIMLAS ( 41445 )

        Yep. They already likely have a very substantial number of skinned alien models for DNF, as well as their textures and light models. They've got levels, explosions and other rendered things.

        All they've got to do now (I assume) is import all this data into a better render engine, improve the lighting models, etc. and they're likely to have all the special effects they'd need to make a movie. Write, cast, shoot on a bluescreen, and impose Duke (and strippers) into the "game" (movie) world. Voila, you've got a

    • by DragonWriter ( 970822 ) on Friday May 15, 2009 @11:51AM (#27967839)

      surely 3D Realms don't have any financial assets left after going bust ..?

      I believe Apogee Software, Ltd. (the company; "3D Realms" is essentially a brand name under which all of their development was done) has assets (including the trade name "Apogee", and its library of IP, currently licensed to Apogee Software, LLC). A financial judgement against Apogee Software, Ltd., could force them to liquidate those assets to satisfy the judgement.

      Also, Apogee Software, Ltd., is a Limited Partnership, which means it has at least one general partner and one or more limited partners. Generally speaking, the general partner(s) are jointly and severally liable for the debts of the partnership, so if Apogee Software, Ltd., doesn't have assets to satsify a judgement, the general partner(s) will be on the hook for the judgement.

  • Oblig. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 15, 2009 @07:46AM (#27964209)

    It's time to sue everyone and chew bubble gum... and I'm all outta gum!

  • Hope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lord Lode ( 1290856 ) on Friday May 15, 2009 @07:50AM (#27964251)

    I really, really, hope that the current work of DnF is not lost. That all the data, code, levels, ..., are going to be released somewhere. Or better, finished into a playable state.

    Isn't it possible to find a different developer that can take it over?

    • Re:Hope (Score:4, Insightful)

      by writermike ( 57327 ) on Friday May 15, 2009 @07:56AM (#27964291)

      I really, really, hope that the current work of DnF is not lost. That all the data, code, levels, ..., are going to be released somewhere. Or better, finished into a playable state.

      Isn't it possible to find a different developer that can take it over?

      I'm wondering if there is any code. I think all we've seen up to this point is some nicely rendered scenes, but are they in-game?

      Ah, cynicism.

    • If 3DR has gone bust, then presumably all the IP is just sitting around and will be acquired by another company. Unlike most games companies that fold, it doesn't seem 3DR was up to its neck in debt or anything like that, so it won't be handed over to some cold-hearted administrators and will more likely than not get snapped up by a rival.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mxs ( 42717 )

      You are, of course, assuming that "all the data, code, levels" actually exist. It does not take much cynicism to believe otherwise.

      • Given the amount of "leaked" footage we've been seeing the past week or so, I'd say that there's at least something there. 2 years ago, I'd be right with you that there was never actually any DNF game, but not so much recently.
    • I really, really, hope that the current work of DnF is not lost. That all the data, code, levels, ..., are going to be released somewhere. Or better, finished into a playable state.

      What makes you think any of that stuff even exists? They've released a few dozen pieces of concept art, a few game play movies (that could easily have been faked in other engines with modding tools), and-- well that's it.

      My guess is that the only thing Take Two has to show for their $12 million is a really high score on the 3DRea

  • by hyades1 ( 1149581 ) <> on Friday May 15, 2009 @08:00AM (#27964315)

    3D Realms threw a handful of bills at Take Two Interactive's bitch lawyers and said, "Wanna dance?"

  • by ipX ( 197591 ) on Friday May 15, 2009 @08:03AM (#27964339)
    Dear sirs, I hear the underpants gnomes have some distribution rights for sale... I'd be happy to negotiate a deal on their behalf with Take-Two.
  • Forever indeed (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Drakkenmensch ( 1255800 ) on Friday May 15, 2009 @08:05AM (#27964359)
    This story simply refuses to die, much to the enjoyment of gamers everywhere. I guess it's reasonable for us to get some schadenfreude mileage out of it, considering we've been fed the same when it's ready line for 12 years now...
  • by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Friday May 15, 2009 @08:13AM (#27964417) Journal
    3D Realms don't have $12 million. If they did they wouldn't have gone belly up. A game developer has virtually no tangible assets. Computers will add up to the tens of thousands at most, devkits are owned by the console manufacturers, offices are leased. The IP is typically not going to have anyone wanting to buy it.

    The only exception to that last point is Take Two. They have a vested interest in making this game a reality. Presumably the point to this is that they become creditors and so will have a claim on the aspects of DNF that have been completed.
    • But getting rights to finish developing the DNF game could be worth more. Currently, the name alone, would sell like hotcakes. Not to mention, I would venture a guess that some fans would purchase to support the franchise, to make sure it continues.

      In other words, duke in take two's hands is the best thing that could happen to both take two, and the fans, at this point.
    • by Miltazar ( 1100457 ) on Friday May 15, 2009 @10:59AM (#27966777) Homepage

      It's not about money. Take 2 did agree(albeit verbally) to give 3DR $5 million. However they later decided not to, and instead to pay 3DR $30 million if they sold the IP to Take 2. They declined, and thus closed.

      I think this is another attempt to get Duke Nukem. They sue them for money which they don't have, and instead demand that they be given the rights to Duke Nukem.

  • by Idaho ( 12907 ) on Friday May 15, 2009 @08:16AM (#27964449)

    ...they should just go to the 3D Realms headquarters, rip their heads off and shit down their neck.

  • by soupforare ( 542403 ) on Friday May 15, 2009 @08:26AM (#27964555)
    I wonder if they're bringing this suit to try to scare GB into handing over all Duke IP. This comes awfully soon after their offer to purchase it outright for $30M.
    • by Nick Ives ( 317 ) on Friday May 15, 2009 @11:04AM (#27966873)

      T2 did not offer to buy it for $30m. They offered 3DR $5m for continued development if they handed over all the rights in return and said if 3DR didn't like it they could get the publishing rights back if they paid them $30m, meaning any other publisher would have to come up with $35m to see the game finished.

      This is clearly a tactical move by T2 to acquire the Duke rights.

      • Not entirely surprising. They've had the $12m for over a decade now. Inflation-adjusted since 1997 that's $17m in today's money. It would only have needed an 8% interest rate in an investment to be $30m by now. If they'd invested the money in other games then they'd be quite likely to have made at least that. All Take Two are doing is saying that, if 3D Realms wants to treat the $12m as a loan then they have to pay interest on it.
    • by Plug ( 14127 )

      Other versions [] of that story suggest that Take Two demanded 3D Realms pay $30 million to buy back the publishing rights for DNF, which they paid $12 million for.

  • 12 million!? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by happy_place ( 632005 ) on Friday May 15, 2009 @08:31AM (#27964587) Homepage
    Dang! Someone give me 12 million dollars to simply MAKE a game, and I could get it done in ten years. By myself... Finding it hard to have pity for 3D Realms...
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jsnipy ( 913480 )
      But in ten years how relevant would it be? inb4halflife2 inb4teamfortress2 inb4starcraft2
    • Re:12 million!? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by owlstead ( 636356 ) on Friday May 15, 2009 @09:29AM (#27965169)

      Not possible anymore (for a while now). Look at the credits of any major 3D action game. You are going to do that all on your own? Good luck with that. Maybe you can do an initial version of Wolfenstein (2.5D) on your own, anything requiring more game code and/or graphics is off limits for a single developer.

      • Dude, seriously, I just pull up the build engine, and I can put together 50 levels in like.. 3 weeks. So seriously.. what's the deal?

        ...that is all there is to it, right?? /sarcasm
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by MoldySpore ( 1280634 )

        All that work by yourself in a respectable amount of time? No.

        All that work in 10+ years? It's at least POSSIBLE. You'd think with a handful of people (like 3-5) you'd be able to do it in 3-5 years. Look at all the indy developed games out there: most of them have teams smaller than 10 people. 3D Realms had 10 years and barely had a trailer out for us to watch. Granted the leaked footage shown recently shows a game that is a bit more finished than even I thought was done, but still...I don't think it is out

      • Well, who says that? I think it's entirely possible. You just do not have to blow up the graphics like crazy. The sole fun, and balancing, and game mechanics, etc? For sure!
        Just use a well-made engine. It already has nearly all of it. Start with the most basic 1-hour-in-3dsmax models, and some basic rooms, to test out the concepts.
        Then gradually improve the game. Do not focus on high-res stuff. That's what eats up nearly all of the resources. You see, most modern shooters are not much more complex in terms

    • I would love to hear this story from someone on the inside. I can't imagine that you pilfer away $12m and nothing happens. I know they must have had numerous redo's but to not produce anything for a million dollars a year in production is just unthinkable!

    • by Zebedeu ( 739988 )

      I also find it hard to have pity for Take-Two interactive.

      "Here's 12 Million. Sure, no problem that you have no real work plan. Take your time, we won't even check on you until it's ready."

  • Honestly. I'm not so disappointed about the game being turfed now with all this great news about the horrendous clusterfuck the entire production was. It's more interesting just to read about how this train wreck went down. Much much better than if 3Drealms just said 'welp, we've decided to cancel production and move onto something else'.
    Least in this scenario fans are getting *something* entertaining in an abstract sense.

  • by Rary ( 566291 ) on Friday May 15, 2009 @09:54AM (#27965579)

    What?!?!? You mean to tell me that there is someone in the world who not only actually believed that DNF would be finished someday, but they believe it so strongly that they were willing to invest $12 million into it?!?!?

    Where do I meet these people? I can "build" far bigger and better vapourware than DNF for half that price! Please, give me a call.

    • by ergo98 ( 9391 ) on Friday May 15, 2009 @10:41AM (#27966453) Homepage Journal

      You mean to tell me that there is someone in the world who not only actually believed that DNF would be finished someday, but they believe it so strongly that they were willing to invest $12 million into it?!?!?

      They paid that money 9 years ago. Yeah, most people believed the game might be someday finished 9 years ago. Even 7 years ago it was "soon". 5 years ago it was "gotta be sometime in the next couple of years". 3 years ago it was "are they actually still working on it?"

      • by Rary ( 566291 )

        They paid that money 9 years ago.

        Ah, good point. I hadn't considered that.

        Nine years ago, I thought DNF would arrive someday. By 7 years ago I think I was pretty skeptical, and 5 years ago I figured it was all just a big joke.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by elrous0 ( 869638 ) *
          4 years ago I started wondering why their investors didn't sue for obvious fraud. Guess they finally did.
  • by CHK6 ( 583097 ) on Friday May 15, 2009 @11:20AM (#27967157)
    Hopefully in the suit, this forces 3DRealms hand to over the Duke Nukem Forever IP rights, so Take2 can finalize the the product and release the game in hope to recoup the funds lost in the investment.

    It's sad for 3DRealms if they have lost their rights to their flag ship IP because they have no more funds, but they were milking the cow for way to long and this is business. Eventually you have to provide a product and not feel strung along. In this case I think Take2 patiently waited through the good economic times, and now it was time for them to recoup their investment.

    Also their is no light on what the secondary funds were from Take2 to 3DR. 12 years is an insanely long development time. And if 3DR's funds dried up and the close up shop, then Take2 has to sue!
    • by mqduck ( 232646 )

      Hopefully in the suit, this forces 3DRealms hand to over the Duke Nukem Forever IP rights, so Take2 can finalize the the product and release the game in hope to recoup the funds lost in the investment.

      Yeah, that's what we need, DNF to finally be released as some slapped together pile of tech demos by Take Two code monkeys. The only hope of a worthwhile release that I can see, and it's a very long shot, is that what currently exists of the game is released to Duke Nukem fans, who hopefully make up for in love and enthusiasm what they lack in expertise, to make something out of.

    • A link for those wanting to watch the lawyering: NY court info []

      A preliminary injunction has been filed, I would guess to keep the IP from being idly sold off in the bankruptcy, but no lawyers for 3DRealms has been noted on the site. "Disposition deadline" is in August 2011. How swift is that?

      Take Two may be using this suit to establish a claim it can take to the bankruptcy court. Once there, however, it'd have to swim with the other creditors in the pool and fight for whatever morsels it thinks is coming

    • by CAIMLAS ( 41445 )

      Hopefully all the rights go to T2, including the 3DR name. If DNF actually, you know, gets finished, it'd feel almost wrong for there to not be the "3drealms" logo at the start, right before the nuclear symbol.

  • by shineyboy ( 840750 ) on Friday May 15, 2009 @11:29AM (#27967357) Homepage

    What most people don't realize is that Take 2 NEVER paid 3D Realms directly for development on DNF. 3D Realms self-funded ALL 12 years of development. The money they're suing them for was for publishing rights purchased from GT Interactive and Infogrames several years ago. This is completely separate from 3D Realms.

    Most people assume this is a typical publisher-developer relationship, but it's not. Take2 doesn't own the rights to the game or any of the content in it... only the rights to publish it whenever it's done. 3D Realms ran out of money, asked them for some, were denied, and had to close down for lack of funds and all their employees are now looking for new employment in a horrific economy.

    It's a shame 3DR couldn't have gotten it together sooner.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by qzak ( 1115661 )
      "It's a shame 3DR couldn't have gotten it together sooner." It's a shame 3DR couldn't have gotten it together.
  • -So where's all that money now?

    • Well going by what George Broussard said in an interview last year; a WoW subscription is fairly cheap, so that's about $11,999,800 spent on "hookers and blow"
  • Collateral damage (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BtRB_Ver2 ( 1555445 )
    In all this, I wonder what will happen/has happened to the Shadow Warrior ip? After DNF, was there going to be a Shadow Warrior remake? Who want'sa some Wang?
  • Here's the plan:

    (1) GeorgeB and the 3DR crew go to Microsoft; and,
    (2) They tell MS that for $10 million they will make DNF run only on Windows 7 with a release date to exactly coinside with Windows 7 release date; and,
    (3) Take-Two still has sole publishing rights, so they're happy.

    Everyone wins, the game comes out, MS get's an exclusive to their new OS, making people upgrade to Seven if they want to play DNF, Take-Two gets their money's worth in sales, and 3DR doesn't die the laughing stock they wou
  • I've always thought the name derived from a happy hour exchange between developers and marketeers, "Wouldn't it be nice if we could keep working on Duke Nuken? "Yeah. Like Duke Nuken, forever..."

All laws are simulations of reality. -- John C. Lilly