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Interceptor buys 3D Realms amid Gearbox lawsuit

UPDATE: New owner: "Our only message is we're not all out of gum yet."

UPDATE 2 - 15:14 - 03/03/2014: Mike Nielsen, the new owner of 3D Realms, has told Eurogamer that he remains determined for the embattled company to continue despite the ongoing lawsuit with Gearbox Software over the rights to make Duke Nukem games.

In an interview this afternoon Danish investor Mike Nielsen said he was unable to go into the specifics of the dispute with Gearbox, but did issue the following message to Duke Nukem fans: "we're not all out of gum yet."

According to Gearbox's complaint, "Interceptor's new game 'Duke Nukem: Mass Destruction' will make unlawful use of Gearbox's IP, including characters, marks, and copyrights in violation of Gearbox's rights under the APA, and federal trademark and copyright law."

Duke Nukem: Mass Destruction is the game Interceptor Entertainment, which Nielsen part-owns, teased last month with the website.

The website included a countdown timer that was set to end on 25th February, and artwork showing an "Original Kick-Ass" flavour of bubblegum, the favourite chewing product of Duke. But the Gearbox lawsuit forced Interceptor to put a halt to the countdown.

The page had asked for 10,000 people to Like the game's Facebook page in order to translate a block of "alien text" with details of the game. But the code - a simple substitution cipher - was quickly cracked by fans. It read:

"The King makes his next-generation debut in Duke Nukem: Mass Destruction. A top-down action role-playing game for PC and PlayStation.

"Duke Nukem kicks ass across planets in an Unreal Engine-powered galactic adventure to save the President from an apocalyptic alien threat."

Speaking to Eurogamer, Nielsen insisted Interceptor had not announced a new Duke Nukem game.

“We have not officially announced anything, other than we're doing a game,” he said.

“We've left some hints online. There have been a few leaks. We were going to announce it on the countdown but due to the lawsuit that has arisen, we have been unable to comment on it. And because of the lawsuit we can't comment.

“The only thing we can say is we're big fans of Duke. That's all I can say. I have to be careful on this subject.

“Obviously the lawsuit isn't ideal. We'd love to see it go away and have a peaceful resolution to it, but it's not something that scares us.

“Our only message is we're not all out of gum yet.”

Nielsen said he intends for 3D Realms to act as a publisher, with Danish studio Interceptor doing development work.

“We would like to use the 3D Realms brand,” he said. “We still think that brand carries an enormous value. I know there has been some controversy, but for me it still stands as a shining beacon with some of the founding fathers of the modern computer game industry. That weighed heavily with us.

“They still have several IPs that are interesting to work with. One of the things we want to focus on is creating new content and new IPs with 3D Realms. It will be a split between those two things, without giving any percentages on what that split is exactly. The focus on new IPs will be a big part of it.

“3D Realms is more in the publishing position right now. The organisation is small. That's all I can say. Going forward Interceptor will be developing a lot of the products coming from the studio - at least the higher end games. That's part of why it makes sense to me as an investor in both of these companies.”

As for 3D Realms co-founders Scott Miller and George Broussard, Nielsen said Miller will continue to work with 3D Realms as a “creative consultant”. Miller is thought to have been heavily involved in Duke Nukem: Mass Destruction.

Broussard's future is unclear, however. Nielsen declined to comment on his status at the company following the sale.

UPDATE 1 - 13:46 - 03/03/2014: The investment firm behind Interceptor Entertainment has bought 3D Realms, it has announced.

That investment firm is called SDN Invest. It's bought 3D Realms, whose legal name is Apogee Software Ltd. It was already part-owner and principal investor in Interceptor, which developed Rise of the Triad.

The new CEO of 3D Realms is Mike Nielsen, who also serves as chairman of the board at Interceptor.

"3D Realms is legendary for its contributions to the gaming industry, as both the pioneer of the shareware model and an always generous partner who has provided both funding and guidance to game studios such as id Software, Parallax Software, Remedy Entertainment, and many others," Nielsen said.

"3D Realms has also developed, co-developed, and co-financed such hits as Commander Keen, Duke Nukem, Wolfenstein 3D, Rise of the Triad, Raptor, Shadow Warrior and Prey. There are only a handful of independent studios with a better track record of original games. Yet even with this stellar track record, we hope we can take the company to new heights."

Interceptor boss Frederik Schreiber added: "3D Realms has always been a defining part the PC games industry. Getting 3D Realms under our wings is a huge step for us and we are extremely excited about the acquisition."

The fate of 3D Realms chiefs Scott Miller and George Broussard remains unknown, but Miller did issue a comment to accompany the announcement.

"My long time partner George Broussard and I are extremely proud of our past, especially as developers who always tried to partner with up-and-coming studios who just needed their break," he said.

"Our history shows we did that throughout the 1990s and 2000s, and I expect the new 3D Realms to continue with this tradition in full force. Our industry needs more good guys, who honor the profession and fellow hard-working developers."

ORIGINAL STORY - 09:00 - 03/03/14: Danish developer Interceptor has bought 3D Realms, its boss has claimed.

Interceptor CEO Frederik Schreiber said on Twitter his company had bought 3D Realms, whose legal name is Apogee Software Ltd.

Despite the mention of Rise of the Triad in Schreiber's tweet, Interceptor does not own the game or its developer. Apogee Software Ltd should not be confused with Rise of the Triad developer Apogee Software LLC.

The news comes amid an ongoing legal battle between Duke Nukem intellectual property owner Gearbox and 3D Realms and Interceptor over the development of Duke Nukem: Mass Destruction.

According to Gearbox's complaint, "Interceptor's new game 'Duke Nukem: Mass Destruction' will make unlawful use of Gearbox's IP, including characters, marks, and copyrights in violation of Gearbox's rights under the APA, and federal trademark and copyright law."

More information on Interceptor's purchase of 3D Realms is expected today.

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