Tucked away in an update to Kickstarter and Fangamer backers with their E3 trailer, Ys NET and publisher Deep Silver revealed to backers that the long-awaited Shenmue III would now be an Epic Games Store exclusive on PC when it releases on 19th November. Cue internet outrage.
In the statement, Ys NET say:
We are happy to announce that Shenmue III for PC will be will be an Epic Games Store exclusive. Development for Shenmue III has been moving forward using Unreal Engine and the support we have received from Epic has been excellent. But most importantly, in looking for the most enjoyable experience on PC, it was decided together with Deep Silver after much discussion that the Epic Games Store would be the best distribution platform option.
However, building on the previous waves of outrage at timed exclusivity and Epic’s brute force business model for launching the store, people are decidedly unhappy whenever Epic Games Store exclusivity is announced. In this case, as in so many others, it’s timed exclusivity and the game will eventually be coming to Steam.
Epic Games aren’t winning themselves any friends in the gaming community through their aggressive policy of buying up timed exclusive deals for game releases on PC, but it probably won’t matter much to them. They’re carving out an increasingly large slice of the PC gaming pie, and developers and publishers signing these deals know exactly what they’re getting: a big boost to their coffers at the cost of some easily forgotten bitterness over a business decision. It’s not exactly stopped games like World War Z from being a resounding success.
However, similar to the contentious decision for Outer Wilds, we’re seeing this problem rear its head with a crowdfunded game, where backers were, at one time or another, promised a version of the game on Steam. For Shenmue 3 that promise came much, much later. The original 2015 Kickstarter page makes absolutely no mention of Steam, just Windows PC, and it’s only later on when it appeared on Fangamer and backer surveys went out to ask about platforms and reveal system requirements that Steam was mentioned.
The problem for disgruntled backers is that they can’t get their money back as Ys NET will not be offering refunds. Strictly speaking the backing is not directly linked to a particular reward (you can fund a project more and pick a lower tier, if you want), and even then they’re still going to send out rewards for the platforms promised, if not the marketplace. They’re just not doing themselves any favours in not offering refunds, is all.
For more news from E3 this year, make sure to keep tabs on our E3 hub.