In the 12 years since Duke Nukem Forever was announced in 1997, the game's ever-shifting "when it's done" release date became a running joke in the game industry. Today, though, comes news that few will find funny. According to numerous reports, the elusive shooter's developer, 3D Realms, has informed its staff that it is ceasing operations.
Though it did not explicitly confirm the closure, the recently relaunched Apogee Software and its publishing partner Deep Silver issued a statement saying that they were "not affected by the situation at 3D Realms. Development on the [portable] Duke Nukem Trilogy [series] is continuing as planned." The Apogee label was relaunched by 3D Realms during last year's Electronic Entertainment Expo and was billed as a portable-dedicated branch of the company.
[UPDATE2] Unfortunately, it seems that the rank and file of 3D Realms proper were not so lucky. In response to a flurry of shutdown reports on the studio's official forums, longtime webmaster Joe Siegler issued a glum confirmation. "It's not a marketing thing," he said, addressing theories that the news could be some sort of guerrilla PR campaign. "It's true. I have nothing further to say at this time."
Adding to the clouds above 3D Realms was a report on Shacknews, which has deep ties to the PC shooter community. Citing "a reliable source," the site reports that employees of the studio were told of the closure this afternoon. The report said that monetary issues were the culprit, which has led many to believe that longtime publishing partner Take-Two had cut off funding for Duke Nuke Forever.
[UPDATE] Citing company policy, Take-Two vice president of communications and public affairs Alan Lewis declined to comment on reports of 3D Realms' closure directly. However, he did say that the company "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. In addition, Take-Two continues to retain the publishing rights to Duke Nukem Forever." Lewis also confirmed that the DNF IP is still owned by 3D Realms.
3D Realms' closure marks a cruelly ironic end to the Duke Nukem Forever saga. After being completely restarted from scratch using the Doom 3 engine, the shooter resurfaced in December 2007 in the form of a brief teaser trailer (above). After a quickly retracted Dallas Business Journal report said that the game was coming to the PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3, several snippets were shown on the Web show of former Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment vice president (and now movie producer) Jason "Jace" Hall.
This year, work appeared to be progressing on Duke Nukem Forever. According to 3D Realms studio head George Broussard's Twitter feed, Take-Two was shown the project on January 26 or 27. He made no subsequent updates about the publisher's reaction to the game, the fate of which is now uncertain. As of press time, requests for comment sent to Broussard had not been answered.
To see the original version of Duke Nukem Forever, check out the trailer below from E3 2001.