Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: fans are upset that an upcoming new game is an Epic Games Store exclusive, and the developers have to react. This time it’s Shenmue III, whose creators said today that any Kickstarter backers displeased with the state of things will be able to get a refund.
Last month, the makers of Shenmue III announced that the game will be a timed exclusive to the Epic Store on PC, a move that angered quite a few people who had helped crowdfund the game. After all, when Shenmue III first launched on Kickstarter in June 2015, the developers had offered Steam keys as a reward option. When the game comes out in November of this year, however, Steam keys won’t actually be available. It’ll be on Steam in November 2020.
Steam, of course, is the ubiquitous store-slash-platform that hosts the majority of games you can play on your computer. The Epic Store, which launched last year, has been racking up exclusives thanks to lucrative deals for publishers and a developer-friendly revenue split. Epic only takes 12 per cent, while Steam takes 30 per cent. It’s an ecosystem that has led to lots and lots of vitriol, sparked by the Epic Store’s lack of features among other fan concerns (and occasional conspiracy theories). There’s no extra cost associated with switching between the two PC launchers, so for those who are upset, this appears to be about convenience and principles.
Those who backed Shenmue III in 2015 and wanted Steam keys for their efforts have a few options. One is to take an Epic Store key. Another is to switch platforms. A third is to get a Steam key one year after launch, once the exclusivity window is up. And a fourth, the developers said today, is to get a refund.
“In response to backers who have requested Steam keys for their rewards, we discussed offering the keys on the day of release,” the developers said in a Kickstarter update today. “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 apologise for the unrest caused by the announcement... Along with Deep Silver and Epic Games, we have agreed that should the above proposal not be acceptable to backers, refund requests will be honoured.”
More details on how to get a refund “will be announced in a following update,” the developers said, although they also warned backers that if they picked one of the tiers including in-game content that’s already been implemented into the game, a full refund won’t be available.
Meanwhile, you can expect these Epic Store controversies to continue at least until Valve relents on that 70-30 per cent split, which might affect their yearly company-wide Hawaii vacations but would probably make game developers’ lives a whole lot better.