Twenty-two (!) years ago, Duke Nukem 3D released for Nintendo 64, introducing its corny absurdity and over-the-top antics to a Nintendo audience. Since then, ownership of the IP has fallen into the hands of Gearbox Software. In 2016, Gearbox released Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour, which introduced an all-new episode 5 to the experience. That all sounds terrific, but there’s a problem: The game’s composer, Bobby Prince, was allegedly never paid for his music appearing in this revamp, and now he is suing Gearbox, its CEO Randy Pitchford, and Valve.
Prince owns the music he created for Duke Nukem 3D, thus requiring Gearbox to strike a licensing agreement with him in order to use that music again in a revamp of the game. Allegedly, Gearbox used his music without arriving at an agreement or compensating Prince in any way. What makes this all even more egregious is that Prince alleges that Randy Pitchford openly acknowledged that Prince owned the music, and Pitchford allegedly said he would “be taken care of.” If “taken care of” means actively ignored, then yes, Pitchford definitely held up his end of the bargain.
Valve is included in the lawsuit because they have ignored a notice to take down Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour despite being informed of improper licensing.
It seems that wherever Randy Pitchford goes, trouble and controversy follow. Chiefly, earlier in the year Gearbox ex-vice president David Eddings accused Pitchford of physically assaulting him. Blowing off a composer for royalties sounds like something Pitchford could possibly have done. But we have to believe in “innocent until proven guilty.”
On the bright side, Duke Nukem 3D is pretty cool, right?