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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  • 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.

    Thread Truncated. Click to see all 2 replies.

    • You're right in that the guys who ran 3DR (and ran it into the ground with the fiasco over DNF) were not the best businessmen. And there are indeed lots of stories of companies founded and run by the technical types and failing, since just because you're a good programmer/inventor/whatever, doesn't mean you can run a business worth a fuck.

      But there are also lots of stories where this worked out fine. Microsoft for one. Sometimes you can be a technical genius and shrewd at business, as well. I'd say id Software falls into this camp - when you hear Carmack give a talk he clearly gives as much attention to the business aspects of the business as he does to the technical aspects.

      A lot of us work in organizations where the sales force is just plain annoying, and we think they're overcompensated. I'm a programmer. If I had to switch jobs with sales, I could do their job, but they couldn't do my job at all. But I couldn't do their job as well as they can. Not nearly as well. And the fact that they do their job as well as they do is the reason there's enough business coming through the door to pay me and everyone else. The reason my boss is not a techie is because he doesn't need to be.

      I agree that bringing in business people will fix some companies - it's not like Microsoft didn't start hiring people to do just this when they could - but sometimes you do get lucky. id Software is lucky. Gearbox is lucky (yes they had layoffs, they're still huge and occupying three floors of a huge bank building in Plano), 3DR wasn't lucky.