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Shenmue 3 developer agrees to refund Kickstarter backers unhappy at Epic Game Store exclusivity

Shenmue III developer Ys Net has u-turned on its decision not to refund unhappy Steam users that had backed the game expecting it to come to Valve’s client. In a statement on the developer’s Kickstarter page, the studio explained in detail why it had decided to partner with Epic, and promised that despite earlier claims, the studio would honour backer refunds.

Shenmue III is the latest game to become a timed PC exclusive on Epic Game Store. Despite fan disappointment, Shenmue III developer Ys Net said at the time that “refunds will not be granted”. After an angry backlash, Ys Net then promised its Kickstarter backers that it was “listening to their concerns” and asked for fans “to have some patience” as it worked to “assess the situation and together find a way forward to justify the trust [players] placed in [Ys Net]”. Now, it seems it will uphold refunds after all.

“As noted in the updates and survey at launch, we had originally planned for PC distribution through Steam,” Ys Net explained. “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.”

Consequently, backers can now change their preferred platform or cancel their pledge altogether.

Interestingly, Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney jumped on Twitter to clarify that to ensure “refunds won’t reduce Ys Net’s development funding”, Epic would cover the cost of Shenmue III refunds, and intimated that for any further unexpected EGS exclusives, Epic would “coordinate with colleagues at the other stores” or “guarantee refunds”.

“When future games go Epic-exclusive after offering crowdfunding rewards on other PC stores, we’ll either coordinate with colleagues at the other stores to ensure key availability in advance, or guarantee refunds at announcement time,” Sweeney wrote.

Shenmue III was first announced at PlayStation’s E3 press conference in 2015, the same year it was successfully Kickstarted to the tune of $6,333,295 – breaking world records in the process. Since then the original 2017 release has been pushed back several times, moving from 2017 to early 2018, then August 2019, and – most recently – now November 2019.

About Vikki Blake

It took 15 years of civil service monotony for Vikki to crack and switch to writing about games. She has since become an experienced reporter and critic working with a number of specialist and mainstream outlets in both the UK and beyond.

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