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Duke Nukem 3D appears set for a 20th anniversary re-release

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Duke Nukem figure close-up Gearbox Software
Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

A new Duke Nukem teaser site hints at a re-release of Duke Nukem 3D — and perhaps other entries in the series — for the game’s 20th anniversary, if you follow the clues.

The fine print on the teaser site mentions a company called Balls of Steel LLC, which is registered with the Texas state government under the same address as Gearbox Software. (The name comes from Balls of Steel, a pinball offshoot of the Duke Nukem franchise.)

Gearbox Publishing, a label under Gearbox Software, is listed as the publisher and distributor of Duke Nukem. The company claimed the full rights to the Duke Nukem brand in August 2015, in a settlement of an intellectual property lawsuit between Gearbox, 3D Realms and Interceptor Entertainment.

Five older Duke Nukem games disappeared from digital retailers such as Steam and at the end of 2015, when 3D Realms’ rights to sell the titles expired. The games in question were Duke Nukem, Duke Nukem 2, Duke Nukem 3D Atomic Edition, Balls of Steel and Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project.

At the time, a representative told Polygon that the company was in talks with Gearbox to bring the games back soon. But it now appears that Gearbox wanted to hold out until it could put together something special. The teaser site sports a banner at the top that reads "happy 20th anniversary"; Duke Nukem 3D was released in 1996, 20 years ago. The Duke Nukem community team has also created or revitalized social media pages for the brand on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

More notably, the teaser site features a countdown clock that expires at 5 p.m. PT on Friday, Sept. 2. That happens to be the exact time when Gearbox’s PAX West 2016 panel ends, so the smart money is on a Duke Nukem announcement coming during the session. The panel, "Inside Gearbox Software," will run from 4-5 p.m. in the Main Theatre at PAX. We’ve reached out to Gearbox to ask about the teaser site, and will update this article with any information we receive.

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