If you are old enough to remember the name Apogee Software, then the name at the top of the lawsuit will be familiar to you. Apogee is the name of the underlying corporation that originally released Duke Nukem (when he was a cute, cartoonish 2D platformer) and later released Duke Nukem 3D under their “3D Realms” banner. It is 3D Realms that spent literal decades trying to get Duke Nukem Forever out the door and, ultimately, didn’t quite make it.
At that point, they entered into a contract with– wait for it– Gearbox’s Randy Pitchford. If don’t know the name, Pitchford was recently “discussed” widely in the internet as the CEO (Chief Executive Orifice) behind the Aliens: Colonial Marines release.
The suit alleges that Gearbox is in breach-of-contract over the 2010 deal they made with 3D Realms (Apogee) to acquire the Duke property. The deal was not an all-cash-up-front deal, but instead included the assumption of 3D Realms’ $2.9 million debt (working for decades on a Duke Nukem title requires a lot of Mountain Dew), as well as a royalties on units sold.
In addition, Apogee is alleging that Gearbox has blocked an independent audit to assess the actual amounts of royalties due to Apogee.
Gearbox has countered, saying that Apogee/3D Realms was the only party that benefited from the arrangement and that it is Gearbox that has suffered damage– presumably because Apogee held a gun to Pitchford’s head to make Gearbox release the clearly crappy game. It’s also probably entirely a coincidence that Pitchford seemed to tell a similar tale about Aliens: Colonial Marines.