The legal dispute over the rights to the Duke have been settled, and Gearbox Software has been declared the owner of the Duke Nukem IP.

3D Realms and Gearbox Software have announced they have settled their litigations over the rights to the Duke Nukem franchise. In early 2014, 3D Realms and Interceptor launched a teaser site for a project called Duke Nukem Mass Destruction. Gearbox Software sued in response, citing that they own the rights for any upcoming Duke Nukem title. In return, 3D Realms sued Gearbox back, claiming they still had the rights to develop a new Duke Nukem title and that they were the owners of the franchise.

“When Interceptor acquired a license to develop Duke Nukem Mass Destruction (Duke Nukem Survivor) from 3D Realms, we did so in good faith and were not aware of any conflict. We never intended to cause any harm to Gearbox or Duke, which is why we immediately ceased development after Gearbox reached out," said 3D Realms CEO Mike Nielsen. To secure the future of Duke, 3D Realms has agreed with Gearbox that a single home serves the IP best. And as big Duke fans, we’re excited to see what Gearbox has in store for the ‘King.’ As for our own games, we’re eager to complete development of the ‘Bombshell’ game and get it in the hands of our fans.”

In order to facilitate the launch of the horribly delayed (and downright horrible) Duke Nukem Forever, which Take-Two Interactive and 3D Realms had been trying to develop since 1997, Gearbox Software acquired the rights to the franchise in order to help publish the game (Take-Two Interactive was facing legal problems due to how long Duke Nukem Forever was taking).

Here's what 3D Realms Vice President and Founder/President of Interceptor Entertainment Frederik Schreiber had to say about ending the lawsuit:

I’m really happy that the lawsuit between Gearbox, 3DR, and Interceptor has come to an end. Right now, I, along with my Interceptor colleagues, are busy making the finishing touches on Bombshell. We can’t wait until you guys can play it!

Now that the lawsuit is over, I’d like to say a few things about my history with Gearbox, and hopefully clear some things up. I’ve been a huge Duke fan for many years, and the original Duke Nukem 3D was a big influence on me and my career in this industry that I love.

I want to express my deepest gratitude to Gearbox for allowing me to work on Duke Nukem Reloaded. I decided to cease production of Reloaded in 2011 to establish Interceptor and work on Rise of the Triad.

I want to make it clear now, once and for all – It was my own decision to pull the plug on Duke Nukem Reloaded, even though we were fully allowed to continue development. I respect Gearbox for supporting a young developer, and I’m glad we can now put this behind us.

I look forward to completing development on Bombshell and — as a long-time fan of Duke — I’m excited to see what Gearbox has in store for the ‘King’!

What's in store for the Duke? Who knows. While almost anything could be better than Duke Nukem Forever by this point, I really hope that Gearbox Software doesn't outsource development on the next Duke Nukem title to multiple studios and actually work on it themselves, as having too many studios involved over so many years was a big reason why Forever was a mess. The Borderlands series proves that Gearbox's in-house development team is certainly capable of the first-person shooter gameplay mixed with comedy needed to do the Duke justice.

“I genuinely appreciate Mr. Neilson’s and Mr. Schreiber’s statement and sincerely offer my best wishes to Interceptor Entertainment and 3D Realms towards their future success." said Gearbox Software President Randy Pitchford. "As someone who was part of the 3D Realms team when Bombshell was first imagined, I am excited to see what they have in store for us with their game.

Duke Nukem Mass Destruction has redesigned as Bombshell, which is expected to launch for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC by the end of the year. Just last month, Randy Pitchford admitted that he would like to make another Duke Nukem title.

100 Video Game Facts You May Not Know