Shenmue 3 is an Epic Games Store exclusive, and Kickstarter backers (who paid for Steam keys) are not happy as they are denied refunds.
When Shenmue 3 was revealed at PlayStation’s E3 2015 Press Conference, there were many long-time fans of the series that were tearing up out of excitement. Today, many of those same fans are raging for a different reason. Following the reveal that Shenmue 3 would be moving to an exclusive PC distribution Epic Games Store, backers who funded the game on Kickstarter nearly a half-decade ago are being told to accept the code change. Even worse, any request for a refund based on the change in distribution is being met with a flat denial.
For those of you out of the loop, Shenmue 3 had a fairly strange reveal — while the game was showcased at the PlayStation E3 2015 Press Conference, it was more a platform to announce a Kickstarter campaign. Within hours the game had reached nearly $700,000, the project was funded (at the $2,000,000 target) within nine hours, and the Kickstarter closed at a record-breaking $6,333,296.
With thousands of fans backing the game, backers were given two options to eventually receive the game: PS4 copy or Steam copy.
However, that decision came well before the era of Epic Games Store’s disruption of the PC distribution market. Coming in as a fierce competitor of Steam, it has earned the ire from many gamers due to exclusivity and timed-exclusivity deals negotiated (often through offering more competitive rates to developers and publishers). While new unannounced games being revealed as Epic Games Store exclusives ruffle some feathers, there is definitely some grey areas for previously announced games that suddenly make an about-face — often including games that have been offering pre-orders via Steam previously.
While that “grey area” certainly exists, the situation with Shenmue 3 seems black and white. Developer Ys Net and publisher Deep Silver had previously been advertising the game to backers (who have already paid money for the title) as a digital Steam key; surveys about preference have already went out to the backers of the game saying as much:
So let’s ignore the fact that Steam has gotten both the original Shenmue and Shenmue 2. There are many fans who had paid for a Steam digital key and now have to accept an Epic Games Store key. And yes, this even includes those who requested physical copies:
PC Physical copies will come with a code for the Epic Games Store
— Official Deep Silver (@deepsilver) June 10, 2019
To developer Ys Net and publisher Deep Silver, this does not constitute a material change in circumstance — so much so that they refuse to offer any kind of refunds. Multiple backers (when expressing that they wanted a refund) received stock communications from the Shenmue 3 team ostensibly saying that they were not going to be refunded their backing price:
The email reads:
Thank you very much for contacting us.
The launch was previously planned for distribution on Steam, however it was decided together with Deep silver after much discussion that the Epic Games Store would be the best distribution platform option.
Shenmue III will be distributed through the Epic Games Store and will require the Epic Games Store Client to activate.
We apologize for the sudden change in platform, however, refunds will not be granted for this change.
We thank you for your support and look forward to delivering the Shenmue experience fans everywhere have been waiting so long for.
The Shenmue III Team
As you can imagine, the comment section — which is limited to only confirmed backers of Shenmue 3 — is irate, many of them instructing others to demand chargebacks from the respective credit card companies or report the Shenmue 3 team for false advertising. Regardless of your opinion of Epic Games Store, it’s clear that this situation is being handled with very little grace, and is likely hurting the goodwill that Shenmue 3 and Ys Net has cultivated over the years.
Shenmue 3 will be available for PS4 and PC (exclusively via Epic Games Store) on November 19, 2019.