Take-Two will likely publish more Duke Nukem games despite its most recent title, Duke Nukem Forever, being one of the most disappointing games of the year according to critics.
It’s a risky move, considering that most gamers might ignore sequels to a game that started with a bad piece of intellectual property (IP). That’s prompted many game developers to kill budding pieces of IP and stick to more reliable franchises like Call of Duty or Mass Effect. But Duke Nukem is one of the most iconic franchises of all time, so it might be worth losing millions of dollars trying to churn out another successful version of the game for Take Two. The company is largely in the shadow of super-publishers Electronic Arts and Activision-Blizzard when it comes to first-person shooter (FPS) games.
Ubisoft also opted not to kill a piece of intellectual property, Assassin’s Creed, when the first game was a flop. Despite the many positive elements in the game, it was bloated with repetitive missions and was fairl;y disappointing with gamers. Ubisoft was forced to take a chance with the Assassin’s Creed franchise, not knowing how successful it would be. The gambit proved successful, and it has spawned a number of spinoff titles in addition to the series’ main trilogy. Assassin’s Creed has since become one of Ubisoft’s most popular pieces of intellectual property — after taking a chance that many game publishers probably wouldn’t take today.
The Duke’s latest adventure has earned a score of 50 out of 100 across 19 reviews on review aggregation site Metacritic for the Xbox 360 version. It has a score of 58 out of 100 across 9 reviews for the PlayStation 3 version and a score of 63 out of 100 across 8 reviews for the PC version. Most critics have hammered the game for being a mediocre shooter that wasn’t the in-your-face attack on modern FPS games that everyone hoped it would be.
In the original 1996 game, the main character Duke Nukem was a studly, cigar-chomping, and highly weaponized bad ass and struck a chord with rebellious young gamers. The game was extremely violent and was controversial for its depiction of women as sex objects. It became a bit of a cult phenomenon, and expectations for a follow-up were extremely high.
The planned sequel, Duke Nukem Forever, was trapped in developmental hell for more than ten years under Scott Miller and 3D Realms. While originally responsible for Duke Nukem 3D and the rest of the series, the game studio just couldn’t settle on what to do with Duke Nukem Forever. The game was plagued with delays due to changes in the game engine and other issues. It was finally stripped of a release date, and the last gamers heard from the testosterone-bleeding Duke was a teaser trailer in 2007.
Take-Two Interactive Software — the publishers behind the Grand Theft Auto series — picked up the rights for Duke Nukem Forever from 3D Realms and handed the keys over to Gearbox Software, the company responsible for first-person shooter Borderlands. The turnaround time was pretty quick for Gearbox, which released a playable demo at the Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle in September. The game, which was one of the most iconic vaporware titles of all time, finally got a release date and went gold last month (and we’re pretty sure hell froze over around the same time).