Duke Nukem Developer 3D Realms Shuts Down

By Nick Breckon and Chris Faylor, May 07, 2009 10:40am PDT Update 5: More images and some DNF gameplay footage have surfaced. Update 4: Images from 3DR's Duke Nukem Forever have started to leak.

Update 3: 3D Realms webmaster Joe Siegler has commented on the shut down, stating: "It's not a marketing thing. It's true. I have nothing further to say at this time." Siegler's post also reflects the unexpected nature of the situation, as he was unaware of the impending shut down during an interview conducted yesterday afternoon. Update 2: Duke Nukem Forever publisher Take-Two has confirmed to Shacknews that it was not funding ongoing development of the 3D Realms project.

"We 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," said Take-Two VP of communications Alan Lewis in a prepared statement.

"In addition, Take-Two continues to retain the publishing rights to Duke Nukem Forever," he added.

Update: Apogee Software LLC and Deep Silver have issued a statement to Shacknews, confirming that the situation at 3D Realms has not affected the development of Frontline Games' upcoming handheld Duke Nukem Trilogy. "Deep Silver and Apogee Software are not affected by the situation at 3D Realms," a representative for the companies told us. "Development on the Duke Nukem Trilogy is continuing as planned."

Original story: A very reliable source close to Duke Nukem Forever developer 3D Realms today confirmed to Shacknews that the development studio has shut down. The closure came about as a result of funding issues, our source explained, with the shut down said to affect both 3D Realms and the recently resurrected Apogee. Employees of both entities have already been let go.

Phone calls and e-mails to various 3D Realms veterans have thus far gone unanswered, with 3D Realms publishing partner Take-Two and Apogee partner Deep Silver likewise unavailable for comment. One 3D Realms spokesperson declined to comment when reached. 3D Realms was founded in 1987 by Scott Miller and George Broussard, and was best known for its Duke Nukem series of shooters starring the titular, bubblegum-lacking hero. The studio had infamously been working on Duke Nukem Forever, the next flagship franchise entry, for over 12 years.

A final push to release Duke Nukem Forever began in 2007, marked by a short teaser starring the in-game hero that was released late that year.

As recent as January 2009, company steward George Broussard wrote on his Twitter feed that he was visiting Take-Two to show off the title.

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  • Well, I had given up on DNF. It was originally announced when I was going through engineering school. Since then, I finished, got a good job, played lots of video games, stopped playing video games, stopped reading the shack, started going outside, lost 80 lbs, met a women while hiking whom I came to love, turned 30, we bought a house, and lately I was thinking that I might someday play the demo of DNF with my as-yet unborn, unconceived son in about 16 years on the 10th (and final) engine choice, on the holo-display, through a mind-interface, and then burst out laughing when the first robotic frog jumped across the screen. But it looks the Duke will not be in this picture.

    Alas poor Duke, I knew him Gordon Freemen.

  • I'll admit that I was surprised to hear this. Yes it makes sense, but it would have made even more sense to occur sometime ago. To go 12 years to just give up at this stage seems hard to believe... but, then again, I suppose the economy collapsing was the final straw for them.

    I think 3DR's failure is representative of a generic problem that has plagued the industry for far too long now. It's improved significantly in recent years, but nowhere near enough:

    The problem is that you have programmers and artists running multi-million dollar businesses, without any sort of business sense or ability. This is not to say, obviously, that technical/artistic people are incapable of successfully running a business... simply that having the ability to come up with and implement a successful video game does not qualify them to take on the responsibility of managing a business. It's a different skillset that is required, and when that skillset is lacking, you end up with business horror stories like this (or that id designer guy who screwed up in Texas).

    A management revolution is needed in the games industry. We need to keep the technical/artistic people doing what they do best, and leave the responsibilities of business to those who know what they're doing. As we've seen, time and time again, people's jobs depend on it.

    Of course, then the worry is that game designs will suffer and companies will end up churning out carbon copies of each other's (and their own) ideas over and over again (which, to an extent, IS happening already). Indeed, I think it will take a significant technological revolution before we ever really start to see widespread and consistent innovation in our game designs. I like to compare the games industry to the film industry 40-60 years ago: a handful of large corporations dominating the marketplace, and indie developers are forced to work with them if they want a large distribution (for the most part). Until ONE person, with the technical know-how, can go from start to finish on a project that can compete with the top projects released by the large corporations (i.e. an analogy might be how Tarantino came upon the film scene) then we're stuck in this stagnant cycle we have now. XLBA games (and the like) are a step towards that... but they're not competing on the same level as some of the professional titles. Even making a MOD these days, on your own (bringing along a FEW others to help with the odds and ends), simply requires FAR TOO MUCH time. Every aspect of MOD'ing needs to be available to designers/artists... coding, as it is now, needs to become a thing of the past. Imagine how many fewer Tarantino's there would be in the film world if everytime they made a new movie, they had to physically engineer the camera they were going to shoot with!

    Just my opinions. RIP 3D Realms. I had been looking forward to DNF.

  • Independent of another the statements of employees are overlapping. Some of you may have had an eye on Georges Twitter blog (http://twitter.com/georgeb3dr). A few days ago, George of 3DR consulted Take2, to, according to Twitter, show them the game and development status (see twitterpost).
    The Reason for that was, in all probability, that 3DR in spite of all inconsistencies has been BADLY(!!) needed money for completion and the payment of employees. According to a 3DR-Insider the financial crisis even hit the concern really hard, too.
    According to his statement, George has needed 5 Million Dollars to get the game finished for release. T2 ask for consideration time. George Broussard and Scott Miller had been sure, that Take2, as publisher would surly put money in one of the biggest titles in game industry and has hold (confident in a positive decision of T2) a BBQ for the staff (see Twitterpost).
    2 - 3 days ago, T2 reported back to 3DR with a complete different offer no one had assumed. T2 do not wanted to put further money in the duke, according to insiders, T2 doubted strongly in the finishing, do not believed George and were in between nerved by his arrogant appearance. INSTEAD(!!) and that is what probably broke 3DRs neck, 3DR could buy the publishing rights of DNF for 30 Million Dollars back.

  • The buck stops with the management @ 3DRealms. After 10+ years there is almost nothing to show for their product. It is not the developers fault... especially if what I have read about them having to contrantly scrap and rework the same maps over and over again because someone in management kept stopping progress.

    If there is a problem you fix it. I can't belive this game could not have come out in 10+ years. 10+ YEARS. The people who are payed to make the decisions apparently didn't and the company bled dry. Nobody knows how complete the game is. 10%? 50%? 90%? It's all speculation because little has been shown.

    And I doubt we will see anything now because if the game was still not near completion it would make the people in charge a laughing stock.