Epic Games kicked up a storm when it announced its own Epic Games Store with a not so subtle challenge at Valve’s Steam and, more importantly, industry business practices. But while it presented itself as a champion of developers and gamers, both camps chided Epic Games for pushing developers and publishers to put their games exclusively on that store. Nowhere has that clamor been more audible than with the Shenmue 3 Kickstarter who will now be refunding backers who don’t feel like supporting Epic Games in any way whatsoever.
It has been four years since the crowdfunding for the long-requested sequel to the Shenmue series launched on Kickstarter. Back then, there has only been one default distribution platform for digital PC games. Naturally, the campaign pledged that PC gamers would get Steam keys on the day of the game’s launch, whenever it will finally be.
Then came Epic Games Store and backers’ world was turned upside down. Shenmue 3 developers Ys Net and publisher Deep Silver changed course and said that the digital PC version will be an Epic Games Store exclusive. Not Steam and Epic Games Store but Epic Games Store and Epic Games Store only. Unsurprisingly, there was no small amount of backlash over the surprising decision.
Now the developers are trying to clear the air by offering refunds for backers who don’t want to make the journey to the Epic Games Store. That said, it’s not like Shenmue 3 won’t be available on Steam at all. It’s just that it won’t be launched there on Day One as promised in the Kickstarter because of the period of exclusivity. Steam keys, however, will be distributed one year after launch but backers have to explicitly opt into that option.
That refund will be shouldered by Epic Games who, also unsurprisingly, is pointing the blame in Valve’s direction. Outspoken CEO Tim Sweeney refers to Valve’s policy prohibiting distributing Steam keys that aren’t launching on Steam just yet, even if it means it will be launching on another distribution platform. But, then again, that’s what exclusivity means anyway.