Update: Not that it makes things better, Epic Games’ CEO Tim Sweeny has gone on record, stating that Epic Games will be handling the Kickstarter refunds. This way YS Net won’t have to make any changes to their plans or lose any money over this. Which is what I was fearing. I suppose this is a nice gesture from Tim. Still, it’s Epic Games’ involvement as to why this is even happening.
Epic is funding the cost of all Kickstarter refunds resulting from Shenmue III’s move to the Epic Games store, so that refunds won’t reduce Ys Net’s development funding. https://t.co/mSGdbzYPJ5
— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) July 2, 2019
During E3 2019, Deep Silver and YS Net announced that Shenmue, a game that was slated to release on the PS4 and PC had a change of plans.
Instead of going to Steam, the game would now see a release on the Epic Games Store, due to an agreement with Deep Silver and Epic Games. As you can imagine, this caused a huge uproar amount the PC gaming community and for good reason. Since then, YS Net stated they going to look into an alternative solution and would let us know during June 2019. Well, that didn’t exactly happen, however, they did finally announce a solution today and one that may seem favorite to backers. Which could cause issues for the Shenmue series going forth.
Today YS Net announced that they will allow backers of Shenmue 3 to request a refund. Previously, Deep Silver stated this wasn’t going to be an option, but thankfully cooler heads prevailed. Now you can refund a full refund and receive that, as long as you backed the digital tier for the title. For those who requested a physical media as it was part of the original Kickstarter (like myself) will likely get partial refund. Or you can switch from a PC version to a PlayStation physical or digital or a physical PC edition with a digital code from Epic Games. If by some chance you don’t want to refund the game but still want a Steam key, you can wait for the year exclusivity to wear off. I’m not sure why you’d want the latter unless a fund refund won’t be granted.
You can read the entire announcement here.
Regarding the recently announced Epic Games Store exclusive, all of us here at YSNET, Deep Silver and Epic are taking the matter with utmost concern and would like to clarify the circumstances leading to the decision and offer backers options for moving forward.
As noted in the updates and survey at launch, we had originally planned for PC distribution through Steam. Taking publishing and sales considerations into account, YSNET and Deep Silver agreed to our partnership with Epic Games Store on PC version distribution. As a publishing partner, Deep Silver has greatly contributed not only to sales and marketing, but to scaling up the game so there is more Shenmue III to begin with. Also, Epic Games has been with us from the start of the project when we adopted Unreal Engine 4 for development, and have given us their support throughout the development process.
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.
That we are not able to offer Steam keys for Kickstarter rewards at the time of the game’s release is a great disappointed and inconvenience for those backers who were expecting to receive them. We deeply apologize for the unrest caused by the announcement.
So, where does it leave the status of the game? Well, for backers, they can finally get their refunds. As for YS Net, this could affect their ability to support Shenmue 3 in ways they originally stated they would. Which really stinks as they’re the ones that are ultimately affected by this. Deep Silver has its money from Epic Games. Though I’d love to know how this recent turn of events affects that. While YS Net will likely need to make some changes to their original plans.
I have this sinking feeling that if Shenmue doesn’t sell well on EGS, this could spell trouble for the game. Sure, things could turn around when it hits Steam but will those who were looking forward to the game even care at that point? Or could it end up on the Microsoft store or GOG, as Metro Exodus did?
Either way, this messy situation has just gotten even messier, despite refunds now being offered. We’ll continue to monitor and report on this as it develops.