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Gearbox And 3D Realms Settle Duke Nukem Lawsuit Via Mediation

by Mike Futter on May 17, 2015 at 08:40 AM

The year-old lawsuit over an unauthorized Duke Nukem game has been settled out of court. Gearbox, which brought Duke Nukem Forever to completion after 12 years in development limbo, filed suit against 3D Realms over the announced (and since altered) Duke Nukem: Mass Destruction.

According to filings, Gearbox re-asserted its legal position on May 12. That same day, the court accepted a filing indicating that a mediated settlement had been reached on May 8.

Terms of the settlement are sealed, and unless divulged by the parties are unlikely to be disclosed. Original IP purchase documents hosted via Scribd reveal buyback terms set out in 2010 at the time Gearbox assumed control of the Duke Nukem property. These terms include a provision for 3D Realms to repurchase the IP.

The buyback amount would include the original purchase price, amount of loans made by publisher Take-Two in service of bringing the game to market, and any expenses incurred by Gearbox for the development of the Duke Nukem IP not recovered by revenue earned from sales of Duke Nukem Forever (and any subsequent games). 

Royalties are also included in a variable amount depending on how many triple-A titles have been released between 2010 when Gearbox purchased the IP and the buy-back. The amount is set to depreciate by five percent every twelve months that Gearbox fails to realize $175,000 from the Duke Nukem brand, with a cap at 25 percent. 

Following the emergence of the lawsuit, Interceptor Entertainment (which acquired 3D Realms shortly after the initial filing) abandoned its Duke Nukem title. In place of Mass Destruction is a similarly styled isometric game called Bombshell scheduled for release this summer on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.

We’ve reached out to Gearbox and Interceptor Entertainment for comment. We’ll update should we receive a response.

Update: Interceptor Entertainment has responded to our request for inquiry. The company has indicated it is unable to provide comment to the press at this time.

[Source: Gearbox Asset Purchase Agreement (2010), United States District Court - Northern Texas (1), (2), via NeoGAF]


Our Take
Until and unless one or both of the parties divulge the details of the settlement, it’s unlikely we’ll ever know what happened. However, based on the filings and assertions therein that the defendant acknowledged it was in the wrong, chances are this ended well for Gearbox, which otherwise seemed prepared to litigate in court.