Saturday, January 22, 2011

Blog Post: Duke Nukem Forever releasing May 3, but will anyone buy it?

Well, it's finally happening. The game that was announced (this April) 14 years ago will finally be released this May. When longtime series developer 3D Realms closed last year, many had assumed the worst for this game, but as it turns out, Brothers in Arms developers Gearbox Software took over and finished the project, with collaboration from its initial developers. So this is sort of a big deal, I guess, as one of the longest-running jokes in the industry is finally about to come to an end.

I'm sure that with all the press the game has received over the course of its development, expectations are high for it to sell, but I honestly wonder if this type of game will be taken seriously in today's marketplace. Not that Duke Nukem demands to be taken seriously, of course, this character being a spoof of those "action hero" types, but I'm wondering if a lot of gamers today will care about this 1990s video gaming icon. Even the boxart just screams "90s!" and it looks pretty dated.

It's funny to think that we're only really talking about a little more than a decade here, but then again, it's amazing how much the times, not to mention the video game industry and its sense of humor, have changed since then. When Duke Nukem was first created, video gaming was still somewhat of a niche industry, more than willing to laugh at and make fun of itself, pretty different from nowadays, when it takes itself so seriously. These games were considered revolutionary at the time because of how they took social taboos and pretty much just threw them onto the screen for humor and shock value. Nowadays, though, will any of this be really shocking? Will anyone except the video game press and die hard fans of the series (those of them who are still playing video games, of course) actually care that this game is finally releasing?

Plus, the more important question: after the years of time this has spent in development, after the many times the game was likely scrapped and started again, after the developer changes, staff departures, studio closings, engine switches, and publisher conflict, will the game be any good?

I guess we'll find out for sure in May, and by June, we'll actually know how well it's sold. With the game's lengthy and conflict-filled development cycle, it's definitely been one of the industry's biggest myths/jokes, but I wonder if this will actually translate to sales. I can't help but look at the boxart and be reminded of Snakes on a Plane, a movie that seemed to have the internet crowd laughing at its trailers and Youtube videos based on its idea, yet, when the movie actually came out, evidently nobody felt like paying to see it in theatres. Another example, Guns N' Roses' Chinese Democracy album, which spent a similarly ridiculously long time being made and talked about, only to have it only sell "okay" when it was finally released.

Have video gamers really been begging for this game for the last 14 years? Or has it just been a fun thing to joke about? We'll find out in May. Unless, of course, it gets delayed again. Now that would actually be pretty funny.

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