Duke Nukem Forever: The Biggest Hoax In Video Game History?
Reminisce with me for just a sec: I remember working in EB - yeah, it was still Electronics Boutique at the time, and GameStop was the primary competition - and trying to help a customer who had asked for a release date for Duke Nukem Forever. Of course, the computer had a listing but nobody believed it, and we kinda laughed about it. When the customer left, the other employees and I joked that the game would absolutely never come out. ...this was 11 years ago.
Ever since then, what may be the single most elaborate and expensive ongoing hoax in entertainment history has continued. The very epitome of "vaporware," 3DRealms' supposed title garnered worldwide attention and somehow managed to snag any and all gamers who were fascinated with the phenomenon. How could a hotly anticipated blockbuster game avoid intense scrutiny that would expose the ruse? Well, it's a combination of things, really. At just about the time the rumor begins to die down - it has happened every other year or so over the past decade - somebody somewhere, perhaps posing as a 3DRealms employee, releases a "leaked" screenshot. Or maybe they provide some "inside info." Last year, they ensured that DNF (in sports, this stands for "did not finish") would have a solid start in a new generation by hinting that it might show up on the new consoles. Then there's the freshly gathered quotes that say things like, "development is going along smoothly," and, "we expect to move on to the next phase shortly," which keep all of us ensnared in this amazing hoax.
DNF. "Forever." "Did Not Finish." "Duke is Now Fu****." Interpret it any way you please, but based on all concrete evidence, the intelligent, rational human can't possibly come up with any other logical explanation. It's just impossible. On the other hand, let's just say for the sake of argument, that we're wrong. Let's say that Duke Nukem Forever is indeed in the hopper and nearing completion. ...can you imagine what the expectations are going to be? Dear mother of God. Remember the hype generated for Daikatana? Oooh, that crashed and burned, huh? And if DNF doesn't instantly become the single greatest FPS ever created, it's going to be considered a colossal letdown, and hence, even if the game does exist, we might have to recommend that the devs scrap this thing. Seriously. Cut your losses before this explodes with the force of 500 nuclear warheads.
But of course, nobody has to worry about that. The hoax is exactly that, and it will continue so long as the media continues to lend an ear. And yeah, we're gonna keep doing that. It's fun for us. It's fun because we know it's a hoax. But the question is, is it still fun for you?
11/9/2008 Ben Dutka