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Duke Nukem developers in legal squabble

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The epic saga of Duke Nukem has taken another unexpected twist.

3D Realms, the creator of the iconic gaming character, is suing Gearbox Software, saying it is due $2 million in royalties over sales of Duke Nukem Forever.

Gearbox was something of a white knight for the game, which many thought would never see the light of day. 3D Realms spent 12 years on Duke Nukem Forever, but was forced to lay off the entire development team when publisher Take-Two Interactive Software pulled all support for the game, having run out of patience for the constant delays.

What was shaping up to be a very ugly legal fight was averted when Gearbox bought the rights to the franchise, the result of a conversation that started in a poker game attended by Gearbox’s Randy Pitchford and 3D Realms’ George Broussard.

Today, though, 3D Realms alleges Gearbox “refused and failed to make substantial royalty payments” that were due as part of the purchase agreement. 3D Realms also accused Gearbox of blocking an independent auditor from verifying royalty amounts.

At the heart of the matter is a $2.9 million loan 3D Realms had to repay. 3D Realms says Gearbox has promised not to subtract the amount of that loan (which it repaid) from the royalty payments, but did so anyway.

Gearbox, in a statement, denied the charges and said that it had, in fact, suffered a reputational hit from the game, which was thoroughly panned by critics.

"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 company said. "3DR turned out to be the only beneficiary of the deal."

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