Tuesday, June 11, 2019

PC Version is a Timed Exclusive for Epic Games | Kickstarter #102

The release of a new Shenmue III trailer was not the only news coming out of the PC Gaming Show on Monday: it was also announced that the PC release of Shenmue III will be distributed exclusively on the Epic Games Store. (However a Steam version will still be coming, as detailed below).

Epic Games is the developer behind the development software used to make Shenmue III, Unreal Engine, and they opened a digital store front in December 2018 as a competitor to Steam.

Although it was not explicitly stated in the announcement, a FAQ on Deep Silver's Shenmue III site confirms that this is a timed exclusive:  the game will still be released on Steam, but at a future date

The Shenmue III Steam page release date now reads "Planned Release Date: coming soon" from its earlier November 19th date.

And accordingly Shenmue III now has a a new page on the Epic Games store:

While the announcement does not reveal details the reason behind the decision (although a note is made of their excellent level of support from Epic during the development), however potential factors that are may have had bearing are:
  • Epic Game's exclusivity involves a combination of "marketing commitments, development funding, or revenue guarantees", as outlined by executive Tim Sweeney in a PC Gamer article last year. Hence Epic may have injected some additional funding into the project, potentially together with a guaranteed level of sales revenue.
  • Another factor may have been the lower cut of revenue that Epic Games takes (12%) from its clients, compared to Steam's 30%.
  • Tencent, who will be managing the distribution of Shenmue III for the PC in China, are a 40% shareholder in Epic Games.
This news of the Epic Games exclusive has unfortunately generated some intense level of backlash online from a section of PC players, who backed or pre-ordered with the expectation of a Steam-delivered version at the release date.
  • Related link: A look at why the Epic Game Store has been on the receiving end of criticism in the past can be found in this US Gamer article.
However this issue mustn't swamp the big picture: the fact that Shenmue III is nearing completion and will be playable on modern systems by the end of the year. Yu Suzuki and the development team have made many sacrifices to bring this game to us.

Given that the game will indeed still be coming out on Steam - albeit at a future date, we hope that Deep Silver continues to address and handle feedback around this issue proactively to help mitigate the concerns.

June 12 Update:
A Deep Silver spokesperson has confirmed that the length of exclusivity to Epic will be one year. On possible backer refunds: "[Deep Silver] hear what people are saying, and they're looking into it." [PC Gamer]

Link: Announcement at Shenmue.link
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  1. Even if there is a later release to Steam, what about the KS folks like myself that were promised a Steam key? I get the decision to release on Epic but at least the original promise for Steam should be fulfilled to backers.

    1. The Twitter account of the official ambassador for Shenmue 3 (Ali Novin) has tweeted that YS Net is aware of feedback on this issue, and to "stay tuned". We'll post on the blog if there are any developments on this.


  2. You guys haven't answered the question whether backers will receive their steam copy of the game on release date.

    1. Currently, release-day keys will be for the Epic Games Store. But if there's any change regarding this, we'll update on the blog.

  3. It's nice that you went back with the exclusivity deal with Epic and now it will be released on Steam again, only later... BUT, about the physical copy, the FAQ says:

    Physical copies will come with a code for the Epic Games Store."

    And that's fucked up. On June of last year I answered the Backer Survey about what physical version I wanted and it was as follows:

    "Which Kickstarter version of Shenmue III would you like?:
    Physical Steam Disc (Kickstarter Exclusive Case)"

    The pledge I choose on the Kickstarter, which was the U$120 one, included the U$100 reward that said the following:

    "Your choice of a digital copy of the game for PC or PS4, or a physical copy for PC + A digital copy of the trial version for PC + Your name in the credits. BE THE FIRST ANYWHERE TO PLAY SHENMUE 3. Get the real word straight from the development team."

    Putting it all together, it means that I was told that I was going to be able to be "the first anywhere" (that is, on the launch day) to play it on Steam, NOT on Epic...

    What is going on? I want to play it day one on Steam. I don't care if you are only going to release it later on Steam, but I want my Steam keys and preferably on day one. It's what I was told when I bought the game, it isn't right to change it on the fly without warning us first. If not, what was the use for that survey?!

    1. I agree with you that the change went against expectations for Steam set in the backer survey, although the survey pages did note that all the PC requirements (including the Steam one) were "subject to change".

      Earlier today, Deep Silver said they are looking into the feedback, so there may be further developments to come.

    2. Yeah, but let's be honest: When we read about "System Requirements" we thought about things like HD space (which was changed from the obvious placeholder 100GB to 60GB) and such, not the place where I will download and play the game. I mean, they specifically asked were I would want to download it and there were no "Epic" option there, yet they changed it abruptly ignoring what they themselves asked and promised before. No matter how you see it, it's obvious a scam, and that's why the it generated a global backlash from everywhere. It already scratched the image of the game and the publisher, not counting the trust of the dedicated fans that have supported this game for so long... Truly a shame

  4. I don't know what kind of deal Ys Net and Deep Silver made with Epic Games Store, but I think if they had negotiated that one year exclusivity deal for they're support with unreal engine 4 in Shenmue 3's development and a partial funding of Shenmue 4; I guess that fans and the PC gamers in general wouldn't have become so mad and this whole situation wouldn't have escalated the way it did, also this would have helped to maintain Deep Silver and Ys Net's reputation intact and even a future Shenmue 4 crowdfunding possible.