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Duke Nukem Forever fallout continues

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Fail to the king

The curse that has plagued Duke Nukem Forever over its infamous 14-year development cycle is adding new victims.

Less than a week after its release, the game has torpedoed a PR firm and dinged the stock of a publisher whose investment was minimal. And, in a sad, ironic twist, it's still likely to qualify as a hit.

The trouble for Take-Two Interactive started Tuesday. As almost universally bad reviews for the game began to flood in, investors got worried and began selling their shares. The company's stock has fallen 5 percent since the launch of the tasteless shooter.

That's curious, since Take-Two's investment in the game is minimal. In fact, the company's decision to NOT give original Duke developer 3D Realms additional money is what resulted in the apparent death of the game in 2009. (Gearbox Software eventually bought the franchise from 3D Realms and announced the game's revival a year-and-a-half later.)

For Take-Two, the chief financial exposure is in the game's marketing, which has been heavy, but not excessive. That's not calming nervous investors, though.

Those bad reviews have also sent the game's long-time publicist over the edge. Jim Redner, who runs The Redner Group, an external public relations company that helped promote Duke Nukem Forever, took offense to the particularly harsh tone of some reviews -- and in a fit of passion tweeted "too many went too far with their reviews...we r [sic] reviewing who gets games next time and who doesn't based on today's venom."

The threatened blacklisting prompted immediate outcry from online game sites. Redner quickly apologized and recanted, but it was too late. Take-Two terminated its relationship with him and his company immediately.

The real irony in all of this? Duke Nukem Forever is a game that's likely to be critic-proof. The series is one of the most famous in gaming, and the curiosity factor given the long, LONG development cycle could prompt action fans to pick up a copy regardless.

Arvind Bhatia, an analyst with Sterne Agee, says he expects the game to sell between 1.5 - 2 million units. That's actually higher than the company's internal projections.


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