Epic Games Offers Refunds to Shenmue III Backers Over Steam Key Issue

Epic Games Offers Refunds to Shenmue III Backers Over Steam Key Issue
Credit: PlayStation via YouTube

Back in 2015, Yu Suzuki made a heartfelt appeal to the gaming community for help funding the third installment in his highly beloved game series, Shenmue. A Kickstarter campaign promised thirty-nine different tiers of rewards depending on the backing donation, with the highest being a ten thousand dollar donation to receive the protagonist Ryo’s jacket, as well as dinner with Suzuki himself (or to be inserted into the game as an NPC).

With an asking price of two million dollars, Suzuki’s heartfelt plea ended up receiving over three times that. Nearly seventy thousand people donated over $6,333,295 to thoroughly fund the campaign. Shenmue III was officially on the way.

Of course, this was four years ago, and Kickstarter promises have a reputation of falling through.

Many funders were attracted by the promise of a redeemable Steam key to unlock the game on release. This digital copy was seen by many as a discount for an incredibly early preorder.

Epic Games has since announced that Shenmue will instead be launching on their exclusive platform, creatively named the Epic Games Store, and then launching on Steam a year later. Understandably, this has left thousands of Kickstarter supporters upset, seeing as their reward will now be delayed by a year.

To be fair, Epic Games has handled the backlash rather well. Ys Net originally stated that they wouldn’t be offering refunds over this new development before reneging on that statement in a Kickstarter announcement. Epic Games stepped in to cover this cost rather than let the funds come out of Ys Net’s funding

Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney’s announcement of this came with a genuine statement of doing better in the future.

“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.”

This is far from the first time an anticipated game has suddenly faced a snag after preorders. Metro Exodus met with a similar issue after Epic moved it to an exclusive launch despite having already sold preorder copies on Steam. Phoenix Point was supposed to originally launch on Steam before Epic decided to make it an exclusive, prompting creator Julian Gollop to offer either full refunds or a year’s worth of DLC to backers.

Given that Epic has had this exact same issue happen multiple times, it might be a bit difficult to believe Sweeney’s words of doing better in the future. Either way, Shenmue III’s launch woes seem to have been solved – for now.