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3D Realms has hired Justin Burnham as chief creative officer to level up the company’s indie-oriented action games.
Aalborg, Denmark-based 3DRealms is known for creating original shooter franchises like Duke Nukem, Max Payne, and Prey, 3D Realms said. (Note a dispute over this list of titles).
With over 16 years of experience in the video game industry, Burnham’s knowledge and expertise, coupled with a well-defined vision, will solidify 3D Realms as a leader in heart-pumping action games.
“They were trying to find the right person to reboot the brand,” Burnham said. “We are redefining triple-A as action, attitude and adrenaline,” Burnham said in an interview with GamesBeat. “We want to build it big again, like it used to be when you went to events in the 90s and early 2000s. The big news came from 3D Realms and id Software.”
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Over the years, Burnham has helped transform Devolver Digital and Good Shepherd Entertainment into the gold standard for indie and double-A games. He also helped evolve ESL DreamHack into a global gaming lifestyle brand, created digital worlds and innovative physical experiences at Subnation, and assisted companies like Game Jolt, The Mix and Skystone Games in strategic development.
Burnham started his career at the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences in 2007, helping to elevate the D.I.C.E Summit into the renowned showcase event it has become. He then went on to bring gaming to South by Southwest (SXSW), where it quickly became one of the fastest-growing aspects of the festival. Burnham’s expansive career now promises to evolve 3D Realms.
Founded 30 years ago, 3D Realms was the publisher, developer, and creator of many legendary gaming franchises, most still going strong, including Wolfenstein 3D, Duke Nukem, Shadow Warrior, Max Payne, and Prey.
In 2014, the Danish company SDN Invest acquired 3D Realms. And since then, 3D Realms has published six titles by its team in Aalborg, Denmark. Embracer Group acquired 3D Realms in August 2021.
“We are thrilled to have Justin join our team. I’ve known Justin for years, and 3D Realms was a perfect match,” said Frederik Schreiber, CEO of 3D Realms, in a statement. “Justin and I have great chemistry, and share a greater vision for the company. His extensive expertise in the video game industry will be invaluable to 3D Realms as we continue to grow and expand our portfolio.”
As the CCO at 3D Realms, Burnham will oversee growth areas such as brand direction, portfolio strategy, production execution, release roadmaps, event activations and other integral marketing campaigns. He will also play a role with Slipgate Ironworks, 3D Realms’ internal development sister company. 3D Realms has 12 people, while Slipgate Ironworks has 80.
“I’m very excited about the internal studio,” Burnham said. “It’s a phenomenal opportunity.”
On his new role, Burnham said, “3D Realms holds a special place in my heart, having grown up playing their games and inspiring me to want to be part of this industry.”
Burnham will be in charge of all internal projects as well as external signings, branding, marketing campaigns, and events. At its core, Burnham sees 3D Realms as a shooter game company.
“There are plenty of publishers that are doing fantastic work, and they’re finding their own style. Some publishers really focus on the cinematic narrative element. And some publishers really want to focus on having a message. 3d Realms is just about focusing on the fun, going back to the roots of why a lot of people played games back in the day. The game is just simple fun.”
Burnham is the harbinger of an exciting new portfolio for 3D Realms, with multiple games spanning various genres coming out in the near future. From tearing alien parasites out of monstrous creatures with your trusty pet gun in the co-op body horror game Ripout to fighting for survival in a world devastated by nuclear war in the classic real-time strategy Tempest Rising, 3D Realms’ evolution as a publisher and developer has only just begun, the company said.
Other games in the upcoming portfolio include Combustion, a diesel-punk action RPG inspired by the PSX-era, and Phantom Fury, an adrenaline-fueled journey around the USA with the infamous Shelly ‘Bombshell’ Harrison, known from the 3D Realms smash hit Ion Fury. With Burnham at the helm of their creative endeavors, Realms Deep 2023 promises to usher in a new age for 3D Realms.
“It’s awesome to have Justin here, as his wealth of experience and innovative ideas promise to invigorate and strengthen the legacy of 3D Realms,” said Tim Willits, CCO of Saber Interactive and director at 3D Realms, in a statement. “With unwavering confidence in his abilities, we are excited for what the future holds and we eagerly anticipate collaborating with him.”
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