Back at E3, Shenmue III developer Ys Net and publisher Deep Silver revealed that the PC version of the highly anticipated sequel would be available exclusively on the Epic Games Store. That upset many of the game’s Kickstarter backers, who were promised during the 2015 Kickstarter funding effort that the game would be available through Steam (they were also given an estimated “December 2017” delivery, but at this point we don’t know. we’re all worth what Kickstarter promises).
Following initial reports that Ys Net declined refund requests after the move, the company announced in a Kickstarter update today that it will indeed offer refunds to affected donors who request them. The developer writes that it originally still planned to offer a Steam key option to satisfy those backers, but “coordination with the sales policies of the companies involved has been untenable, and as a result we are unable to to make one day one distribution option for Steam keys available.”
“The fact that at the time of the game’s release we won’t be able to offer Steam keys for Kickstarter rewards is a great [disappointment] and inconvenience to the donors they expected to receive,” the update continues. “We sincerely apologize for the turmoil caused by the announcement.”
Epic CEO Tim Sweeney came in on Twitter to note that Epic will provide money to cover any refunds requested so that they “will not reduce Ys Net’s development funding.” Sweeney also promised that “when future games become Epic exclusives after offering crowdfunding rewards in other PC stores, we’ll either coordinate with colleagues in the other stores to make sure the keys are available in advance, or we’ll issue refunds.” will guarantee at the time of announcement.”
A temporary problem?
Shenmue III isn’t the first game to go through the grueling process of transitioning from Steam pre-sales to an Epic Game Store exclusive release. Deep Silver itself ran into almost the exact same problem back in January when it announced it: Metro Exodus would move to the Epic Game Store after months of pre-order availability on Steam. In that case, Deep Silver provided a Steam version of the game to those pre-orders and promised that future DLC for the game will also be available on Steam.
Ubisoft has never offered pre-orders for The Division 2 on Steam, but it did post an info page for the game on that platform in June 2018. That page came out when The Division 2 however, officially became an Epic Game Store exclusive in January.
With the passage of time and the Epic Game Store seemingly established as a viable and long-lasting competitor to Steam, developers and publishers are increasingly avoiding this kind of awkwardness by simply choosing a platform and sticking with it from the moment they go public with it. their plans. Shenmue III is hampered in this case by the long lead time between the launch of public crowdfunding in 2015 – when the Epic Game Store was probably barely an idea – and the expected release later this year.
With the Epic Game Store barely six months old, we’re still in this weird time when some publishers decide to publicly change their PC release plans from Steam in light of Epic’s financial incentives. Going forward, these decisions are likely to take place behind the scenes, without any public backlash or doubt.