A few weeks ago, Shenmue 3 became the subject of controversy when Ys Net announced that Shenmue 3 would be an Epic Games Store exclusive. Many were outraged, and demanded refunds because it was originally promised to be on Steam. Today, they have released an update on the situation:
Go read that first, the rest is my own takeaway.
There's two main things here I want to discuss. The first is that they're giving full refunds.
"Along with Deep Silver and Epic Games, we have agreed that should the above proposal not be acceptable to backers, refund requests will be honored."
This actually surprised me. I didn't think that they would give in to the refund demands, or even be able to. Maybe they're confident that not many will actually request them. I don't know.
The second, and more important, issue is regarding the exclusivity.
"If selecting either the PC Physical or PC Digital version, an option to also receive a Steam key one year later will be available. Backers must manually select this option in the survey to receive the Steam key."
So the Epic Games Store exclusivity is only a one year timed exclusive, not permanent, and will be available on Steam thereafter. You may think that this is a new decision in response to the controversy, but it actually was the plan from the beginning. Buried in the FAQ of the Shenmue website, it did indeed say that the EGS exclusivity was for only one year, and that it would available on Steam as well after that. (I think that they have since changed their website, so I can't find this anymore. You'll have to take my word for it.) However, it wasn't completely clear that Kickstarter backers would be able to wait a year for the Steam version, so it is nice to have that clarified.
Does it suck that Shenmue 3 will be an Epic Games Store exclusive for the first year? Yes. Was it wrong to do so after initially promising the game would be on Steam during the Kickstarter campaign? Absolutely. But the timed exclusivity should never have created anywhere near as much anger as it did. That was clearly an issue of poor communication on account of Ys Net. Their original announcement said nothing of timed exclusivity, and made it entirely sound like the EGS exclusivity was permanent. Their original post should have made everything abundantly clear, like they did in today's post. And after they saw the fan outcry, they should have immediately clarified, instead of hiding the issue in the FAQ and waiting weeks for a proper response. In the end, this isn't that bad. But damn this whole episode could have easily been avoided.