Despite the reviews, the disappointing sales and the ridiculously protracted 14-year development cycle, Duke Nukem Forever has officially made a profit for its publisher, Take-Two Interactive. That's according to CEO Strauss Zelnick, who is right to sound pleased after enduring one of the roughest rides in gaming history. But this financial viability also means a big green light for more Duke Nukem projects. And that's where our previously waning enthusiasm becomes piqued once more…
First-off, let's just clarify that this isn't some miraculous 1:1 attach ratio of console and PC owners buying DNF and generating enough cash to cover the whole 14 year project. The game's original developer 3D Realms itself put a lot of funding into the game off its own back, meaning Take-Two's input and investment would have been comparatively modest (not to mention the entire wodge of cash that was allegedly written off the publisher's books as a loss when the game failed to show up again). So in terms of the publisher's own expenditure and sales, it probably does, incredibly, add up to a figure in the black.
Above: Yeah yeah yeah, but what's stage 2? 'Hand development over to Gearbox', presumably
Whichever way the profit is worked out, the outcome has been worthwhile for Take-Two, which means the franchise is still financially viable. So what's next for the series?
The first part of the plan is to release DLC for Duke Nukem Forever. The game has already received a patch to make it work a bit better since its release (which just goes to show that a game's development doesn't necessaily have to end when the thing is on the shelves. 'When it's done', eh?) But with more substantial DLC for the game on the horizon, some more modern-feeling Duke gameplay might be closer than you'd think.
The second phase is expanding Duke outward into other media. Zelnick has stated: "If we can take some of our intellectual property and bring it to another medium in an extraordinary high quality way, that delights consumers and represents an interesting commercial opportunity for us, we will." An extraordinarily high quality way? Erm, we'd still like some of that Duke Nukem on our gaming consoles, please. Because, to be honest, we'd be happy if the current game is left as it is so the franchise can move forward.
Above: The basic premise of Duke is something worth playing, which is why it topped the charts upon release
We're pleased we got to play Duke Nukem Forever in the end, even though it wasn't very good. But we still like Duke. The character and idea behind the game is still strong, despite the aged cliches and jokes littered throughout DNF's script. All it needs is bringing up to date and a 2-years (max) development cycle for a sequel, and a new Duke game could be truly great. Profit for DNF shows we're not alone - people want to like it.
A word of advice, though - call it something like Duke Nukem Today. Definitely NOT Duke Nukem Eternity. If you know what I mean.
09 Aug, 2011