Nothing feels worse than having a game retailer or big box electronics store rip you off, and knowing that they'll get away with it in the end. For many fans of the Duke Nukem franchise, this is a pain that they've had to live with for years. After Duke Nukem 3D, the next installment of Duke spent over a decade being "in production." While many understood sooner rather than later that a game being released before the troubled studio 3D Realms went under was unlikely, others were more optimistic. So optimistic, in fact, that they put money down to make sure they had a copy of the game long in advance.
Sadly, the inevitable happened, and 3D Realms is no more. But as we now know, Gearbox Software, creators of the smash-hit Borderlands, have purchased the rights to the Duke name and are doing everything they can to release Duke Nukem Forever next year. So while Duke's fans now have a game to look forward to, they will always be the victims of their own optimism, and many retailers made out like bandits.
Gearbox Boss Randy Pitchford however, has stepped up, and announced that they are looking into the pre-orders, and doing what they can to see them honoured. In an interview with VG247 at a press event in London, Pitchford explained how the situation is coming along, and how difficult it may be to arrive at an agreement:
“There are a lot of people who pre-ordered the game...We’ve been starting to talk with retailers because we didn’t take them directly, and 3D Realms didn’t take them, it was all retailers going ‘I’m going to take this guy’s money.’
“We’ve started to engage them, saying ‘Hey, you’ve got customers who you made a promise to, and any bad feeling they have will reflect on us, so can we work together to do something for those people?’
“I don’t know what we can do yet, but something should be done for the people who pre-ordered.”
So there is still hope that things may be made right with the universe, on the condition that game retailers are willing to play ball. Either way, it's comforting to know that in the mind of those at Gearbox, buying the rights to the Duke Nukem name mean that they also bear a responsibility. Embracing a franchise and the fan base it holds hasn't been seen to this extent in quite some time, and offering access to the game's first demo was a smart move on their part.
Gearbox is following in the footsteps of EA's extension of an olive branch to burned APB subscribers, and hopefully this trend of companies treating their fans with respect will continue. Now we know that it can even be more profitable. So if you purchased a pre-order of Duke Nukem Forever, and still have your receipt, hang on to it. Gearbox may still make things right.
Were you one of the many who dropped money on a game that until recently, you never thought would see the light of day? If so, let us know in the comments.