Shenmue III is finally offering Kickstarter backers their refund for not providing promised Steam keys, but the money is coming from a most unusual source.
When Shenmue III made history by becoming the largest video game to ever be Kickstarted, they promised PC backers they’d eventually get a key for the game on Steam. After two years of delays, developer Ys Net then announced that Shenmue III would actually be an Epic Games Store exclusive, which didn’t exactly go over well.
Angry backers started demanding a refund en-masse, stating they only paid for backing under the promise that the game would eventually arrive on Steam. It got so bad that the developer had to post an update saying they were going to “assess the situation” with regards to refunds.
Eventually, after finding out that Valve’s policy prevents them from offering Steam keys unless Shenmue III actually released on Steam, they decided that it would be best to provide refunds as requested, lest angry backers start gathering with pitchforks and torches.
Shenmue III announced that refunds would be provided yesterday with details to follow in a later update. However, now we’re learning that the refunds aren’t coming from the developer, Ys Net, nor are they coming from Kickstarter.
The refunds will be paid for by Epic themselves.
In a pair of tweets sent out yesterday afternoon, Epic Games' boss Tim Sweeney revealed that it was his company that would pay for Shenmue III’s refunds so as to not take away from the developer’s budget. "Epic is funding the cost of all Kickstarter refunds resulting from Shenmue III’s move to the Epic Games store so that refunds won’t reduce Ys Net’s development funding," wrote Sweeney.
Additionally, Sweeney said that future games that were Kickstarted under the promise of keys on other digital storefronts, but later become Epic exclusives, would follow the same policy of Epic providing refunds when asked.
Does this mean that Epic might soften their stance on games that go Epic Games Store exclusive after already selling pre-orders on other digital stores like Steam? So far this plan seems to only apply to crowdfunded games, but it does seem to indicate that Epic is becoming more sensitive to gamer outcry.
Whether this will change their behavior is another matter entirely.
The student who acquired the drive has been given a life sentence and others who watched it will do five years hard labor.