The October 2011 edition of the Official Xbox Magazine reports that Gearbox Software plans to "reboot" the Duke Nukem franchise once Aliens: Colonial Marines is complete and out the door. The series, which began back in 1991 with the original Duke Nukem PC game developed by Apogee Software, will relaunch "with the long-discussed Duke Begins" on an unspecified date.
Believe it or not, there have been around 18 Duke Nukem-themed titles released on a whole, spanning the PC (MS-DOS), the Nintendo 64, PlayStation, Game Boy Advance, the Nintendo DS, iOS, to the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Windows PC with the recent release of Duke Nukem Forever. Many fans will agree that 1996's Duke Nukem 3D was the most memorable of the bunch, and has since found its way onto more than nine platforms including Google's own Android OS (unofficially).
Gearbox Software was revealed as the developer of Duke Begins, the Duke Nukem prequel project, over two years ago. At the time, Gearbox was brought on to develop the prequel following a 2007 agreement between 3D Realms and Take-Two Interactive in which 3D Realms relinquished its rights to develop the prequel in exchange for an additional $2.5 million to dump into Duke Nukem Forever's ongoing development.
Gearbox was publicly named within Take-Two's answer to a counterclaimed filed by 3D Realms/Apogee Software during the Duke Nukem Forever dispute years ago. Take-Two said that the Duke Begins game was never terminated, and that it didn't need to consult 3D Realms/Apogee regarding to the change in its schedule. The company also denied that the halted development "materially harmed Apogee and/or will necessarily delay the commercial release of the Duke Begins game." Duke Begins was originally slated for mid-2010.
"Under the 2007 Agreement, any modification to the development schedule for the Duke Begins game, following Final Concept Approval (as defined in the 2007 Agreement), is permitted without Apogee's consent provided that both 2K Games and Gearbox (as defined in the 2007 Agreement) consent to the change," Take-Two stated.
3D Realms/Apogee Software retaliated, saying that a delayed release of Duke Begins would "delay any royalty payments...from sales of the Duke Begins game and prevent Apogee from being able to repay the [$2.5 million] advance when it becomes due in 2012."
Of course, since then, 3D Realms has shut its doors and Gearbox Software, along with a few other developers, pieced together the Frankenstein-of-a-game Duke Nukem Forever and published it back in June via Take-Two Interactive. As for when Duke Begins will launch, anything at this point is pure speculation.