3D Realms Anthology
Image: 3D Realms

In 1994, 3D Realms was born. The developer/publisher was behind classic 3D games such as Terminal Velocity, Duke Nukem 3D, and Shadow Warrior, but according to Apogee/3D Realms founder Scott Miller the original label never really existed as a separate company.

Instead, as Miller clarified recently on Twitter, 3D Realms was simply Apogee Software under a different name, not a distinct developer or publisher. It's a misconception that still seems to be pretty widespread among players, with many online often mistakenly believing the two to have been completely separate entities with their own unique setups.

This isn't the first time Miller has tried to correct this misunderstanding. In the past, he's made repeated references to this distinction, even going so far as to write a whole blog post to try and clear up any confusion back in January of this year.

In that post, he details the history of both Apogee and 3D Realms, stating the following about the birth of the 3D label:

"Apogee went on to release dozens of games via shareware and in retail, including Duke Nukem, Raptor, Rise of the Triad and Wolfenstein 3D. But it was clear that the gaming industry was moving in the direction of 3D games, so I wanted to create a new label to reflect this, and I came up with 3D Realms.

"I didn't consider this a great name, btw, but back then 800 numbers were super important for people ordering our games directly from us, and so I wanted a name that also worked as an 800 number, and of all the names I wanted to use only 800-3DREALMS was available, so that's the name that was chosen and trademarked by us as our new label.

"And from that point we began using 3D Realms for our big 3D releases, like Duke Nukem 3D, Terminal Velocity, Shadow Warrior, Blood (which we sold to Monolith during it's production), Descent (we sold the rights to Interplay during production), Max Payne and Prey.

"But really, all along, the company was still legally Apogee Software, and 3D Realms was a trademarked marketing label that we used. (3D Realms was never a legally formed company.)"

What has inevitably made this a bit more confusing is that 3D Realms is now a legally distinct company from modern-day Apogee (now Apogee Entertainment).

How this happened is all a bit complicated, but the jist of it is this. In 2014, a Danish investment firm named SDN Invest acquired the publishing label 3D Realms, relaunching it with Miller's help. Since then, though, a lot has changed, with Embracer Group acquiring 3D Realms, and Miller leaving to relaunch Apogee as an indie publisher. Now, both companies claim a connection to 3D Realms' past online — something that Miller inevitably has some strong feelings about.

In a recent set of tweets, he stated:

"...Now 3D Realms is owned by all-new people in Europe, who have no connection to our past, although they want you to think they do so they make posts about Apogee games they had nothing to do with. All you have to do is look at who has the history for all of this stuff, and who doesn't."

On a separate but not entirely unrelated note, it's worth mentioning that Miller has been sharing a lot of great stuff from Apogee/3D Realms' incredible history on Twitter. This includes old documents, merchandise, and posters. If you're at all interested in the story of either company, we recommend giving them a follow to keep up to date.