Gearbox has revealed that it's not just finishing Duke Nukem Forever, it's bought the full rights to the brand and "all future projects" featuring the Duke.
The theoretical possibility that Duke Nukem Forever might actually be translated from legendary internet meme to real-live videogame at some point within the next 12 months or so is exciting, albeit perhaps somewhat ironically so, but for die-hard fans of the franchise (and is there any other kind at this point?) this news is even better: Gearbox Software isn't just picking up after the Duke, it now owns him.
Gearbox was "hand-picked as the new home for Duke Nukem," according to 3D Realms co-founder Scott Miller, "because of their continued passion, commitment and long-time heritage with the brand and 3D Realms." Gearbox co-founder Randy Pitchford began his career at 3D Realms, working on the Plutonium Pak expansion for Duke Nukem 3D in 1996 along with the somewhat less-well-received FPS Shadow Warrior.
"Gearbox was the only home appropriate for the Duke Nukem brand," added Miller's 3D Realms partner George Broussard. "This will be a win-win situation for everyone involved, especially the fans."
The only "win" for gamers at this point is the fact that the world's foremost alien ass-kicker is finally in the hands of a studio that can actually finish a game. Beyond that, it's impossible to say where this non-stop debacle is headed; Gearbox appears to have big plans, referring to DNF as "the first product to be available under the Duke Nukem brand," but first they have to salvage enough interest in the game to make sure it's also not the last. Duke Nukem Forever is expected to launch sometime in 2011 for the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, but I'll believe it when I see it.