Duke Nukem Creator Sues Gearbox For Unpaid Royalties

Duke Nukem Creator Sues Gearbox For Unpaid Royalties

Duke Nukem Forever

3D Realms claims that Gearbox owes it more than $2 million in royalties and advance payments on Duke Nukem Forever.

Duke Nukem Forever may have been one of the most embarrassing videogame bombs of all time, but a deal's a deal and 3D Realms says Gearbox isn't living up to its end of the agreement that gave it the rights to the property back in 2010. According to a lawsuit filed earlier this week, Gearbox agreed to pay off a $2.9 million loan that 3D Realms owed to another software company and to pay it a percentage of royalties earned on future Duke Nukem releases; it also agreed not to deduct any of the debt it assumed from the royalties paid. Yet 3D Realms says that's exactly what Gearbox has done.

"Despite the assurance it provided to 3D Realms, Gearbox now claims that it is entitled to first deduct the full amount of the debt it assumed (i.e. the entire $2.9 million Duke loan) before any royalty payments become due to 3D Realms," the complaint says. "Thus, Gearbox is turning the tables."

3D Realms claims it's owed more than $2 million on the game, but Gearbox said in response that the company has already "received the full benefit of its bargain," and also slipped in a shot or two at 3D Realms' inability to complete the game itself.

"Gearbox, in fulfillment of its commitments, enriched 3D Realms, saved 3DR from its debts and rescued 3DR from its failed dozen-plus year attempt to ship Duke Nukem Forever," the studio told Law360. "Everyone wished that 3DR's game was better received by the market for the benefit of gamers and profit to its creators. While 3DR might not wish the reality that the results make clear, 3DR turned out to be the only beneficiary of the deal. Gearbox Software, meanwhile, experienced damage to its credibility and loss of its money."

I can't even imagine how galling it would be to have to fork over seven-figure royalties on Duke Nukem Forever, but regardless of how it works out, it's a far cry from those happier days when 3D Realms boss George Broussard said Gearbox "was the only home appropriate for the Duke Nukem brand."

Source: Law360

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The Ballad of Duke Nukem Forever continues onward still with its next chorus...

I don't know the full terms of 3DRealms' contract with Gearbox, or what monies 3DRealms might have already received from the turn-over. They might have a case, though one would imagine the struggling purveyor of iOS ports might be at something of a disadvantage against the legal department of a relatively healthy games company.

All that said, there's something to this that smacks of selling someone a chicken on the guise that it was a goose that laid golden eggs and then getting angry that you haven't been given your share of the gold.

Borderlands is cool I guess, but Gearbox is sounding more and more like a silver-tongued con man.

Ah Gearbox, you're so controversy free and squeaky clean with the inbetween Borderlands crud-fests that you release for us

If I were the creator of Duke Nukem I'd be too busy erasing my name from all of the paperwork rather than bringing attention to it.

This kind of thing does show the worst side of the corporate section of gaming though. You'd think this kind of thing would have been sorted out in all of the paper-work prior to the game being released.

I don't buy that Gearbox wouldn't be paying off the debt with the royalties, it seems like bad business sense and considering how bad DNF bombed, Gearbox probably needs a way to generate the revenue to pay that off. As for their credibility, I don't consider that a case. You get in bed with someone, you deal with the repercussions, good or bad.

Legion:
If I were the creator of Duke Nukem I'd be too busy erasing my name from all of the paperwork rather than bringing attention to it.

Apparently their reputation is worth less than the approximately $3 million debt they want someone else to pay off.

I'm actually shocked that Gearbox would agree to pay so much just for the opportunity to make DNF. Were they really so sure that it would make money to agree to those terms? Can't blame them for trying to cut their loses when it flopped but they set themselves up for it.

All I can say is... it made enough money to make royalties? Seriously, just walk away dude. Duke spent 13 years in Development Hell and released exactly just that. You really expect money for a shitty game that didn't sell well? It'd be like if Tom Hanks went full retard on Forrest Gump, yet taken the same deal for royalties instead of a set pay, he'd be broke as hell and left without a career.

Wow... this is the second time Gearbox has been sued in the last 3 months, I'm starting to feel bad for them... [looks at Aliens: Colonial Marines box on the shelf] ...I think I take it back...

So....3D Realms wants to be paid a percentage of 0? H-how is that even possible?

Legion:
If I were the creator of Duke Nukem I'd be too busy erasing my name from all of the paperwork rather than bringing attention to it.

This kind of thing does show the worst side of the corporate section of gaming though. You'd think this kind of thing would have been sorted out in all of the paper-work prior to the game being released.

this right here. First off even though 3D REALMS CAN NOT dissassociate from duke by virtue of creating him, it does not change the fact that they sold the girl to wipe away the debt. Gearbox MIGHT have owed them royalties if the game sold enough, but thier argument is legit if they have the paperwork to back it up.

it is like when Interplay sold Fallout, repurchased the rights to make an MMO and then when they could not make a single milestone tried to sue to get the franchise back AND keep the bucketloads of money that Bethesda gave them.

3DRealms is currently being paid EXACTLY what that game is worth.

They were idiots for trying to "rescue" the Duke in the first place.

CriticalMiss:

Legion:
If I were the creator of Duke Nukem I'd be too busy erasing my name from all of the paperwork rather than bringing attention to it.

Apparently their reputation is worth less than the approximately $3 million debt they want someone else to pay off.

I'm actually shocked that Gearbox would agree to pay so much just for the opportunity to make DNF. Were they really so sure that it would make money to agree to those terms? Can't blame them for trying to cut their loses when it flopped but they set themselves up for it.

and i repeat myself again: the DNF we got was "finished", I believe, around 2009. 3DR and co. were polishing it up and etc. Gearbox bought the Duke rights, funded the devellopers - (3D Realms (aka Triptych Games) and Piranha Games (mp). What Gearbox did for the devellopment I have no clue. The only thing I suspect is that they re-designed Duke (in the 2009 version he was much more manly).
Like a guy said above: Gearbox seem to be more and more of sharlatans.
And I really liked DNF. I got BallsOfSteel on the 360 day1, then got it for steam during a sale. Still have tons of fun!

It would be in the contract, if its not then they wont get a penny. But what actually did Gearbox do to DNF. Because that thing looked a complete wreck.

I can think of a different game that killed Gearbox's credibility.

CriticalMiss:

Legion:
If I were the creator of Duke Nukem I'd be too busy erasing my name from all of the paperwork rather than bringing attention to it.

Apparently their reputation is worth less than the approximately $3 million debt they want someone else to pay off.

I'm actually shocked that Gearbox would agree to pay so much just for the opportunity to make DNF. Were they really so sure that it would make money to agree to those terms? Can't blame them for trying to cut their loses when it flopped but they set themselves up for it.

$3 million is a small price to pay for an IP like Duke Nukem. Or at least it would have been if they had done it five years sooner. It's probably still pretty small change for that kind of product, but the Duke had been out of the public eye for so long that there wasn't much chance of a new release doing well, especially one that didn't absolutely knock everyone's socks off.

It's hard to say who is right here without seeing physical contracts. That said with "Duke Nukem Forever" there is the big question of how much money this game made. To be honest for all of it's critical panning it seems like a ton of people bought it, especially considering all of the sales. Sort of like the point that can be made about "Plan 9 From Outer Space", say what you want about Ed Wood or the movie itself, but it's endured longer than most things, and has consistently made money at a trickle (especially after his time) ever since it was created. In today's more aware world, you can see how someone is going to want their share of even the "Plan 9" of video games.

Also to play devil's advocate, it's surprisingly debatable about how bad "Duke" actually is, unlike say "Colonial Marines". To be honest most complaints about DNF seem to revolve around accusations of sexism and how Duke's persona didn't age well in their mind. This eclipses complaints about the actual game, and frankly is arguably a matter of Gearbox delivering the property they were given pretty much as it was originally. It's by no means a good game, but again, one has to ask whether it's that bad at the same time, and consider how many people were content after buying it for like $6 during a Steam sale, not to mention the pre-orders, and how many people jumped on the Collector's Editions with all the epic Duke-themed swag. While heralded as a failure I've long wondered how much of that is playing to media sentiment, and how much is true, I'd be curious to see the actual books on it's performance rather than what was relayed to the media. If my suspicians are correct on this point, I'd probably be miffed if I was 3DRealms too.

I get the feeling that Gearbox run on the kind of logic as some of the people in this thread. "Screw the contract; this game sucks. Its creators don't deserve squat." "Aliens is a shovelware franchise anyway. Nobody will care or even notice if we steal 90% of the budget and put it into making a new Borderlands game." It's shady as hell, but there's a certain logic to it that goes beyond merely "We want more money and we'll screw over whoever we feel like to get it." It's more like "We want more money and some people deserve to have it taken from them."

Just because the game sucks, doesn't mean 3DR aren't entitled to their pay, assuming they have signed legal documents with Gearbox stating what they are claiming.

Just because DNF sucked, doesn't mean that all the money it got should go to Gearbox. It's not the first time Gearbox were accused of scamming people out of money either: they scammed Sega out of fuckload of money they were supposed to spend on Colonial Marines, then outsourced the game to some nonames, while spending the money on Borderlands 1 and 2.

Hmm... as I see it. Gearbox pullsed a lovely order of obligation stunt here. See they paid off 3dR's debt and they will be paid 2 million worth of royalties... once the game generates that much royalties :p

Seriously though 3dr should have been happy just to walk away with their debts cleared I mean a 12 year dev cycle... they saw their own market trumped right before their eyes. I mean Serious Sam was already considered the spiritual successor to DN3D, and be damned if those games weren't better than the now embarassingly failed DN4E

Duke Nukem actually made a profit

And Pritchford said back in 2012 that there would be a sequel

http://www.destructoid.com/take-two-there-will-be-more-duke-nukem-204247.phtml

Sure Forever was pants, but i for one enjoyed it (probably cause i bought it for a tenner and the laugh)

I'd check out a sequel... 3D Realms are probably killing that right now with this though :(

Duke Nukem Forever was shit, but if it were not for Gearbox, it would not have even been released (for better or worse). 3D Realms calling Gearbox cheats is like getting hate mail from Hitler: 3D Realms spent over a decade conning and swindling money by producing what was essentially vaporware to fund their fucking WoW addiction. I'm serious on that last one - they spent more time grinding in WoW than actually working on DNF.

Gearbox as of late has also been a dirty little pile of shit with the release of Aliens: Colonial Marines, but at least they were actually fucking competent enough to actually release the game instead of leading fans on and on for a decade or two.

Uh, to make this clearer: I see this as fight between a giant douche versus a shit sandwich. They're both bad, but the douche is at least useful for something.

If it wasn't apparent enough - I'm disappointed in Gearbox, but I have little to nothing else but pure vitrol for 3D Realms. Gearbox has my support (if it ever mattered), but only in the sense that I find 3D Realms undeserving of any reward or compensation.

Andy Chalk:
Gearbox Software, meanwhile, experienced damage to its credibility and loss of its money."

And who is to blame for that? Because every time they try to pull off that excuse (like they didn't even saw the state of the game they attached their name to), I feel sick...

Wow. It's like a train spent 13 years going off the rails, building itself up for a spectacular crash. And then it crashed into a mountain so hard that it bounced clean off and then crashed again into another mountain. I'm not sure where I'm going with this, but I think we'll all need popcorn.....

RT:
Just because DNF sucked, doesn't mean that all the money it got should go to Gearbox. It's not the first time Gearbox were accused of scamming people out of money either: they scammed Sega out of fuckload of money they were supposed to spend on Colonial Marines, then outsourced the game to some nonames, while spending the money on Borderlands 1 and 2.

This is exactly what really pissed me off, especially after playing Borderlands 2 I was expecting A:CM to be even better and had faith in GB but no we got the truth that they fucked us gamers and SEGA and the other parties over so their own two games could be made (Remember Borderlands original art style before they ripped it off?) and because of that they have earned my eternal hatred for ruining one of my favourite game movie franchises.

All I can say now is I'm happy someone else is stepping up to sue the shit out of them and I hope GB suffer for it.

Chimichanga:
Duke Nukem Forever was shit, but if it were not for Gearbox, it would not have even been released (for better or worse). 3D Realms calling Gearbox cheats is like getting hate mail from Hitler: 3D Realms spent over a decade conning and swindling money by producing what was essentially vaporware to fund their fucking WoW addiction. I'm serious on that last one - they spent more time grinding in WoW than actually working on DNF.

Duke Nukem Forever was entirely self funded by 3DR (using the fortune they made off Duke 3D, Shadow Warrior, Max Payne, and selling the Prey license) up until around '07 at which point we started hearing about the dev's financial troubles and the whole Gearbox thing started. I don't know where you get the kind of foundation to say they 'seriously' spent more time grinding than working on their game, because a single joke on the Jace Hall show doesn't count as consolidated fact.

DNF was not a great game, but if Gearbox signed a contract and didn't compensate 3DR to the degree that they agreed, and were legally obliged to, they are in the wrong. That is how the law works.

Well Gearbox, maybe that'll teach you to make a deal before you know how good the game is. It's not in the contract that you get to do whatever you want if DNF bombs, apparently, and maybe it should have been.

I can't believe Duke Nukem Forever even made 2.9 mil. If it did it must have been from people wanting to experience the worst game ever created.

Well . . . assuming 3DR is telling the truth about Gearbox promising to pay for the debt and pay the royalties separately, 3DR would seem to be in the right, shitty of a deal as it is and shitty of a game as DNF was. Gearbox's lawyers should probably not have let them do it, but a deal is a deal.

That said, I take issue with this remark:
"3DR turned out to be the only beneficiary of the deal. Gearbox Software, meanwhile, experienced damage to its credibility and loss of its money."

So, let me get this right, Gearbox . . . you lost money because you made a bad deal and an even worse game, so that somehow reflects on how shit of a company 3DR is?

I got $20 on the Duke, saying he he re-arrangess Gearbox hardcore. Any takers?

BigTuk:
Hmm... as I see it. Gearbox pullsed a lovely order of obligation stunt here. See they paid off 3dR's debt and they will be paid 2 million worth of royalties... once the game generates that much royalties :p

Seriously though 3dr should have been happy just to walk away with their debts cleared I mean a 12 year dev cycle... they saw their own market trumped right before their eyes. I mean Serious Sam was already considered the spiritual successor to DN3D, and be damned if those games weren't better than the now embarassingly failed DN4E

you know that DNF turned a profit by the end of summer, right?

Someone should smack Randy Pitchford...

not in relation to this specific event, but just in general.

 

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