Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic Games, has announced that Epic will cover the cost of all Shenmue 3 Kickstarter refunds for players upset that the game will be an Epic Games Store exclusive at launch. Originally funded back in the summer of 2015, Shenmue 3 will finally be released August 27 of this year.
Sweeney’s comments addressed a controversy that’s been roiling since early June, when Ys Net and Deep Silver, the game’s developer and publisher, revealed that it would be an Epic Games Store exclusive. The Epic Games Store didn’t even exist when Shenmue 3 was funded on Kickstarter, and backers were initially told that they would receive Steam codes for the PC version. With the switch to Epic exclusivity, PC players were told that they would get Epic codes instead, and there was no confirmation that refunds would be an option.
A little less than a month later, Ys Net has confirmed that refunds will be available, and Tim Sweeney announced on Twitter that Epic is footing the bill. On top of that, Sweeney has pledged that Epic will see to it that future crowdfunded games don’t suffer the same problems if they become Epic exclusives after their funding campaigns. According to Sweeney, Epic will either work out a deal with other stores to ensure that their keys are available at launch if promised during the funding campaign, or cover the cost of refunds if that isn’t possible. Of course, that’s also a tacit confirmation that Epic will continue to court developers to make their games exclusive to the Epic Games Store after their Kickstarter campaigns.
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
According to Ys Net, the developer actually tried to negotiate with Epic and Valve to allow Steam keys on release day. Without saying exactly why that didn’t work out, Ys Net wrote in a Kickstarter update that “coordination with the sales policies of the involved companies was untenable.” Backers do have the option to switch from a PC copy of the game to a PS4 copy if they don’t want a refund, but those who accept an Epic Games Store key can also opt to receive a Steam key when it launches on that platform next year.
The new policy is a smart move from Epic, which would probably prefer if people stopped talking about the company as if it were the Borg trying to assimilate as many games as possible, and it may provide some cover for developers that want to work with Epic but are afraid of the fallout from their customers. However, a look at the comments on Sweeney’s tweet or Ys Net’s Kickstarter update shows that one thing it’s not likely to do is appease irate Shenmue 3 backers.
Source: Tim Sweeney/Twitter