Duke Nukem's All Out of Gum and Legal Options as Another Lawsuit Looms Over the Game's Storied Franchise

Alien ass-kicker and record-breaking misogynist Duke Nukem has gotten into a lot of scrapes over the years, whether it was preventing a race of aliens from using their spawn to take over the planet or getting back at them for daring to take the Earth's babe resources. He's been relatively successful at keeping them at bay (depending on whom you ask and how much patience they have) but apparently there is one enemy even a roided-up egomaniac like Duke can't escape, no matter how many RPGs he fires at it: the court system.

The troubled video game franchise is in trouble again, this time from the Plano-based studio that helped bring the big lug back to life after a 13-year absence. Gearbox Software filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Northern District of Texas court against 3D Realms and Interceptor over their latest attempt to bring us a Duke Nukem game that doesn't suck.

According to Polygon, Gearbox claims that the upcoming game tentatively titled Duke Nukem: Mass Destruction violates Gearbox's intellectual property rights over the character and its various contents. Interceptor planned a big reveal of the new game on February 25, a title that plans to give a role-playing twist to the storied first-person shooter franchise. However, the lawsuit seems to have stalled that plan since a phony "emergency broadcast system" message appears on the countdown website with what sounds like a scuffle between some evil aliens and panicky humans going on in the background.

Like most of the franchise's problems, this latest wrinkle stems from 3D Realms and Gearbox's agreement that led to the completion of Duke Nukem Forever. Basically, 3D Realms found itself floundering financially with a multimillion game on their hands that famously went unfinished until Gearbox stepped in and agreed to help finish it as part of an acquisition of the franchise that they described as a "bailout package." 3D Realms claims that the deal didn't give Gearbox exclusive rights to the character. However, they have done other projects with the Duke Nukem label and there seems to be some unresolved gray area between the two regarding how much of the character each side owns.

You can read the full legal filing below to fulfill your legal curiosity about the franchise's latest legal problem.


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Danny Gallagher has been a regular contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2014. He has also written features, essays and stories for MTV, the Chicago Tribune, Maxim, Cracked, Mental_Floss, The Week, CNET and The Onion AV Club.