Some backers of action game Shenmue III’s multimillion-dollar Kickstarter campaign are upset that it will launch exclusively on Epic’s Games Store, scuttling plans for a launch on Steam. Developer Ys Net revealed Epic’s exclusivity during E3’s PC Gaming Show today. Almost immediately, backers who had specifically requested a Steam key flooded Ys Net’s Kickstarter announcement, with some requesting refunds.
Shenmue III will launch November 19th on PlayStation 4 and PC. As SavyGamer founder Lewie Procter noted on Twitter, Ys Net previously listed Steam as a requirement for playing the game on PC. Later, however, the studio and its publisher Deep Silver decided that “the Epic Games Store would be the best distribution platform option.” Backers can get a digital or physical copy of the game, but, either way, they’ll need to activate it through Epic. That’s put Shenmue III in the crosshairs of Steam fans who oppose Epic’s recent push for exclusive games.
The game’s Steam page is still live, and its publisher could theoretically still distribute Steam keys to backers and sell the game through Epic more generally. However, the update specifically mentions requiring Epic’s software. We’ve reached out to Deep Silver to confirm what’s going on.
Games like Metro Exodus and Borderlands 3 have previously been announced as timed Epic Games Store exclusives. Some angry Steam fans responded by review-bombing Borderlands 2 so badly that Steam intervened to stop them from influencing its overall score. Critics give several reasons for hating the Epic Games Store. Some dislike the software’s overall interface, others objected to an invasive tracking feature that shipped with early versions, a few have offered unsubstantiated claims that Epic is controlled by the Chinese government, and many simply don’t want to install yet another launcher to play their games.
We don’t know what percentage of Shenmue fans really care about the exclusivity. Today’s Kickstarter announcement currently has around 430 comments, the vast majority of them angry, but nearly 70,000 people backed the project when it launched in 2015. We also don’t know whether Shenmue III’s developers will be offering refunds. And we don’t know how people will respond to the game itself, which has been delayed several times but may finally be on the verge of a release.