Epic Games Offers Refunds For Shenmue 3 Backers Angered by Steam Delay
For many, this headline might've been seen from a mile away. Shenmue 3 has come under a lot of fire post-E3, due to the announcement that the game had been signed on as an Epic Games Store release exclusive for the first year. This means that those who backed the game on Kickstarter expecting Steam keys have been royally screwed over, now forced to wait until late 2020 to actually be able to play it. To make matters worse, developer Ys Net went on to explain that refunds would not be provided. The whole situation is quite the mess, with things only just beginning to simmer down after the latest news. Epic Games has now stepped in on the controversy, revealing that they will provide full refunds to Steam backers (though some exceptions may apply).
"We had originally planned for PC distribution through Steam," explains Ys Net in the latest posting on Kickstarter. "In response to backers who have requested Steam keys for their rewards, we discussed offering the keys on the day of release. However, coordination with the sales policies of the involved companies was untenable, and as a result, we are not able to make a day one distribution option for Steam keys available." Basically, signing on as an Epic Games Store launch release caused frictions with Valve/Steam. Unfortunately, this isn't the first case of this happening. Similar problems have cropped up over the past year, with games that were originally going to release on Steam hopping over to the Epic Games Store side, such as Metro Exodus. It's only gone on to anger a good portion of the PC gaming community, creating a more hostile market and one that messes up pre-orders that were already in place.
Epic's decision to provide the refund money to those affected is to ensure Ys Net maintains the development money they've already earned and are putting forward into the project. Tim Sweeney, Epic's CEO, discusses this on his recent Twitter posts; he also reveals the key detail that they'll be doing the same thing if similar situations crop up with other games going forward. So where does this leave Shenmue 3 backers? According to the Kickstarter, you've got three options: Wait the full year for the 2020 Steam release, switch to a PS4 copy of the game (either digital or physical), or simply get your refund. More on the refund process will be revealed in a future post, and various stretch goals have now been changed to reflect all of this.
While it's good that people can finally get the refunds deserved, this sadly doesn't fix the main issue of the delayed Steam release. It's led to many a hot debate over the pros and cons of this PC storefront exclusivity that's been flying around lately. Shenmue 3 will serve as the long-awaited continuation to the Shenmue series, which has been very dormant since its cliffhanger ending in 2001's Shenmue 2. The series hasn't been able to continue due to poor sales, along with a very high development budget. 3 went on to break some records with its Kickstarter campaign following E3 2015, quickly surpassing its minimum funding goal in no time. To say fans have been waiting a while for this game would be a vast understatement. Shenmue 3 will be available on PlayStation 4 and Windows PC (via the Epic Games Store) on November 19th this holiday season. Check out the game trailer below, or head to its Kickstarter page to see more on the news.