The music composer for Duke Nukem 3D is suing Gearbox and Randy Pitchford for unpaid royalties from the game.
You’ve probably never heard of Bobby Prince, but he’s the guy that wrote some of gaming’s most iconic music. Doom, Doom 2, Wolfenstein 3D, and Commander Keen are all works from Prince, as well as the Duke’s last good game, Duke Nukem 3D.
It’s that last game that Prince is taking issue with. He’s suing Gearbox, CEO Randy Pitchford, as well as Valve for unpaid royalties from Duke Nukem 3D’s sales since the release of the 20th Anniversary World Tour edition back in 2016.
Court documents were submitted in US District Court of Eastern Tennessee and accuse Gearbox of not ponying up for 16 original works that were included in the first Duke Nukem 3D developed by Apogee. At the time, Prince had a deal with Apogee that said he got $1 for each copy of Duke Nukem 3D sold. Since the game eventually sold around 3.5 million copies in 2002, this made Prince a very rich man.
Sadly, those sales didn't seem to help Apogee which ran into money troubles requiring they auction off some of their IP in 2010. Gearbox swept in and grabbed the rights to The Duke and then proceeded to make Duke Nukem Forever, a shining example of corporate folly if there ever was one.
However, Gearbox also created a remastered version of Duke Nukem 3D called the 20th Anniversary World Tour edition. It adds some new content, spruces up the 1996 visuals, and primes a new generation for The Duke's special brand of racy (and horribly misogynistic) humor.
Unfortunately for Gearbox, they forgot about Prince. According to the court docs (courtesy of PC Gamer), "The electronic files for the music within Duke Nukem 3D World Tour include text specifically stating that Mr Prince owns the copyright to the music and has reserved all rights to the music’s use, yet Gearbox incorporated the music into the game without ever contacting Mr Prince and without clearing the rights expressly mentioned in the electronic files."
The docs later go on to describe how Prince tried to settle the situation outside of the courts by ringing up Mr Pitchford and telling him he owes some back payments. Pitchford said that he would “take care of it,” but never did. Pitchford has a bit of a habit of not paying talent for their work.
Valve is also named in the suit as a takedown notice was sent to remove the 20th Anniversary World Tour from Steam, but the game remains there to this day.
We don’t know how many sales the 20th Anniversary World Tour made on Steam since 2016, but it’s apparently enough to warrant Prince issuing a lawsuit. Gearbox and company have 21 days to respond.
(source: PC Gamer)