Duke Nukem Never — Lawsuit Update

Duke is being held prisoner by Judge Loretta A. Preska in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Siouxsie wonders if Duke now regrets his history of misogyny and violence against pixelated strippers

Duke Nukem 3D was one of the most popular video games ever.  It was thought that Duke Nukem was an unstoppable force.  Its sequel, Duke Nukem Forever was one of the most highly anticipated video games of all time.  But Duke is now trapped in what likely will be a lengthy and contentious legal battle, one from which he may never escape.

Although developers quickly began work on a sequel in 1997, and many promises were made about forthcoming release dates, Duke Nukem Forever never surfaced.

In an extensive article (and a highly recommended read), Wired’s Clive Thompson explains that

[s]creenshots and video snippets would leak out every few years, each time whipping fans into a lather — and each time, the game would recede from view. Normally, videogames take two to four years to build; five years is considered worryingly long. But the Duke Nukem Forever team worked for 12 years straight. As one patient fan pointed out, when development on Duke Nukem Forever started, most computers were still using Windows 95, Pixar had made only one movie — Toy Story — and Xbox did not yet exist.

In May 2009, Take-Two Interactive Software sued the video game developer Apogee (3D Realms) over its failure to create Duke Nukem Forever.  Take-Two’s complaint claims that Apogee continually delayed the completion date” for the Duke Nukem Forever and “repeatedly assured Take Two…that it was diligently working toward completing development” of the game.

Apogee filed a counterclaim alleging that Take-Two did not hold up its end of a separate agreement.

Clive Thompson’s article articulates Duke’s fatal flaw —

[i]t’s a dilemma all artists confront, of course. When do you stop creating and send your work out to face the public? Plenty of Hollywood directors have delayed for months, dithering in the editing room. But in videogames, the problem is particularly acute, because the longer you delay, the more genuinely antiquated your product begins to look — and the more likely it is that you’ll need to rip things down and start again. All game designers know this, so they pick a point to stop improving — to “lock the game down” — and then spend a frantic year polishing.

There are lots of names for Duke’s problem:  writer’s block, fear of failure, Chinese Democracy.  Success can be as difficult to handle as failure.  We have all been there.

Perhaps the lesson here is that it may be better to produce an average product in a timely manner, rather than failing to produce anything at all (and getting sued for 12 million bucks).

A copy of the complaint is here.  A copy of Apogee’s counter-claim is here.  At the beginning of this month, the parties agreed to drag out discovery until November 26, 2010. Summary judgment is not due until January 14, 2011.  So don’t look for the Duke to escape his latest battle for at least another year.

Stay tuned.

For your viewing pleasure — Duke Nukem Forever as is.

Photo Credit:


~ by siouxsielaw on December 25, 2009.

One Response to “Duke Nukem Never — Lawsuit Update”

  1. […] Duke Nukem won't answer your questions on Formspring, but George Brousard will. Duke Nukem 3D was one of the most popular video games ever.  It was thought that Duke Nukem was an unstoppable […]

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