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Shenmue III developers refuse Kickstarter refunds for Steam keys, they state Epic Games Store is the "best distribution platform option"

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On June 10th, it was revealed that the Kickstarter-funded Shenmue III, initially marketed as launching on Steam, would be moving to the Epic Games Store, much to the furor of many of its backers. Since this revelation, many backers have contacted Ys Net with inquiries on receiving refunds.

Unfortunately, these requests have been denied as early as June 10th, without providing any reason, with the Shenmue III team simply apologizing for the “sudden change in platform.”

This screenshot, taken by Fireye on Resetera, shows the full Kickstarter backer message.

Fireye.png.7635247d7aa1e75e03414ff972874f23.png

On June 14th, Ys Net released a Kickstarter post entitled “A message from Ys Net, Epic Games, and Deep Silver”

The post reads as follows,

Quote

“Hello Everyone,

We want to make sure that the Backers are aware that we are listening to their concerns. We kindly ask all our fans to have some patience, we are currently at E3 demoing the game and need to get back to our respective offices to assess the situation and together find a way forward to justify the trust you placed in us.

Thank you for your patience and support.”

Ys Net has acknowledged the backlash, yet still provided no statement on the matter.

However, on June 11th, an FAQ section was added to the Shenmue III website, revealing more information on the Epic Games Store exclusivity deal under the FAQ's Pre-Order tab.

Quote

Will Shenmue 3 be released on Steam in the future?
Shenmue 3 will be released on Steam in the future.

Quote

When can we expect Shenmue 3 to be available on other stores?
Shenmue 3 is planned to be available on other stores 12 months after launch.

While Ys Net and Deep Silver are undoubtedly abusing the masses who funded the title with false advertising, consumers who elected to not contribute to the Kickstarter campaign can take solace in an eventual Steam release of the title.

We are awaiting Ys Net's next update regarding this refund issue.

Shenmue III launches on November 19th, 2019. Be sure to check our up to date fixes article when the game is released.

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Crowdfunding in a nutshell.

At least Shenmue 3's Kickstarter doesn't seem to have promised a Steam copy on the page back in 2015 from what I can tell.

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It's nothing personal. It's just business. 

Why are people getting worked up over which store a game initially appears in? We need some strong competition to the Steam store, and Epic is finally providing it. 

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5 hours ago, ZLoth said:

It's nothing personal. It's just business. 

Why are people getting worked up over which store a game initially appears in? We need some strong competition to the Steam store, and Epic is finally providing it. 

That's not what "competition" means. If it were _actual_ competition it would be on Steam and EGS and players would be able to choose the platform that best suits their needs. What Epic is doing is holding customers/games hostage, not giving them more choice.

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, ZLoth said:

It's nothing personal. It's just business. 

Why are people getting worked up over which store a game initially appears in? We need some strong competition to the Steam store, and Epic is finally providing it. 

The problem people have isn't that Epic Games Store is attempting to compete with Steam or which stores games initially appear in. The problem is the strategy Epic has chosen to try and compete. It will bite them into ass in a long run.

At this moment Epic isn't even directly competing with Valve in the quality of the services which is the only thing that should matter. Instead Epic has decided to create a "monopoly" around certain games by bribing developers and publishers to take them off of the open markets to closed and limited Epic Store or at least off from the Steam. This is their first mistake which also influences prices of games in longer run.

 

Second mistake is that Epic's dealings are causing a lots of bad blood between gaming communities and developer/publisher relations. Publishers might have promised that people will be able to have all the titles from the same game series in a single store. However they might switch exclusively to Epic store one week before the release and without any warning breaking their earlier promises and expectations of customers.

People whom already paid for the Steam version thought that they will get a Steam version, with all the benefits Steam provides such as achievements and existing social connections, will in fact not get the game on Steam and might not be able to play with their friends. Publishers and developers whom break their promises like this cause people to grab their pitchforks and torches and it could very well lead to a civil war(s) which might destroy the fabric that holds PC communities together.

 

Epic's third big mistake imo is that they're forcing people against their free will to use what is clearly inferior and poorer service with less features, higher downtime, poorer UI design with usability issues, security and privacy concerns and then some. Even some of the very essential things you'd expect any regular web shop to normally have such as a shopping cart just aren't there (yet). It annoys people to a great extent. Epic should have put work and added at least the bare minimum features we've come to expect before starting their aggressive behaviour.

Epic should give people a better option by being the shop which replicates all the features Steam has and then some and offering higher quality service. At least they should have made their store have the essential features first before taking this current strategy which has cost them their reputation. I can iterate these points more if you want.

 

Finally let us also not forget that Steam already has lots of competition in form of Origin, UPlay, Twitch, Bethesda Launcher, Battle.net, GOG Galaxy, Discord, etc. but they all have issues and aren't providing service with as high quality as Steam. The very reason Steam is successful is because they're providing the best service(s) currently.

Valve is not perfect and Steam does have some genuine issues such as customer support being garbage half the time. But they're still the best service provider on the market and Valve does support and think of their communities and customers even if it always doesn't seem to be the case. Epic is currently doing the very opposite by breaking things down.

Edited by Kellovesi
I forgot to add the final point I had in my mind.

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23 minutes ago, rain3x said:

If it were _actual_ competition it would be on Steam and EGS and players would be able to choose the platform that best suits their needs. What Epic is doing is holding customers/games hostage, not giving them more choice.

How is this any different than pre-order DLC, CDs, or DVDs that are exclusive releases to a particular retailer? Or TV shows/movies that are available only on a specific streaming platform?

What I'm suspecting is that Epic is giving the publisher a higher percentage of sales in exchange for a exclusive release window. I don't see anything that says that title XXX is never going to show up on Steam, just not at release date. 

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14 minutes ago, ZLoth said:

How is this any different than pre-order DLC, CDs, or DVDs that are exclusive releases to a particular retailer? Or TV shows/movies that are available only on a specific streaming platform?

What I'm suspecting is that Epic is giving the publisher a higher percentage of sales in exchange for a exclusive release window. I don't see anything that says that title XXX is never going to show up on Steam, just not at release date. 

You're attempting to compare apples to oranges. If Comcast paid Netflix to disallow people that aren't on Comcast from being able to stream their content, it would be much closer to this situation. Now you're shoehorned into Comcast as an ISP if you want to watch Netflix. 

I mean, I could continue to point out the fact that Epic is controlled by Tencent, a Chinese company that has been caught spying and stealing information previously. The fact that the EGS harvests data off your computer without your permission, the same way more malware does and the dozens of other scummy actions Epic/EGS have been implicated in recently, but based solely on "competition" aspect Epic has done nothing but bully gamers into using their lackluster, borderline virus, storefront with money they scammed off users to begin with. Lack of choice is _NEVER_ competition.

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23 minutes ago, ZLoth said:

How is this any different than pre-order DLC, CDs, or DVDs that are exclusive releases to a particular retailer? Or TV shows/movies that are available only on a specific streaming platform?

What I'm suspecting is that Epic is giving the publisher a higher percentage of sales in exchange for a exclusive release window. I don't see anything that says that title XXX is never going to show up on Steam, just not at release date. 

In the DLC, CD, DVD, BR, etc. scenario you can still buy the product from any other store, you're just not getting all the pre-order bonuses unless you pre-order several copies each from different store but you are able to get the product itself. In the case of Epic Store, there are certain games which might never appear on other stores (at least for now, like you pointed out). Or will drop the Steam specifically only to get some of the Epic money.

The TV Shows and Films which appear only on specific Video Streaming platforms tend to be almost always funded and created by the said Video Streaming Platform. Netflix and Amazon have their own studios creating their own content only for them. The trouble with Epic is that they're not making their exclusive content themselves or even funding other studios to create new exclusive content for them. Almost no one is complaining about Fortnite being an Epic Store exclusive. There weren't many complaints when Valve put their own content exclusively to their own platform. Epic gets these complaints because they purchase out games people got interested and after they were announced to Steam and other places. They're behaving like a bully.

As far as I know EGS has both actual real exclusivities, private timed-exclusivities, publicly timed-exclusivities and then open market titles. Epic is giving both pure cash injections and also higher percentages for publishers and developers, if I've understood it correctly. They were also giving plain money for people to that way get the set prices of new games artificially lower.

That cheapens out the value new games which actually hurts the developers but can marginally (if even that) benefit big publishers e.g. in form of boosting initial sales figures (which makes market investors and speculators happy and rises stock prices of publicly traded gaming companies) with negative effect of lower long-period sales (which hurts developers in a long-term more than the publisher). Check the recent Epic Summer Sale scandal for more information on that. It resulted several developers pulling their games out of Epic Games Store or at least breaking the exclusivity and timed-exclusivity deals they had made.

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3 minutes ago, Kellovesi said:

Epic's third big mistake imo is that they're forcing people against their free will to use what is clearly inferior and poorer service with less features, higher downtime, poorer UI design with usability issues, security and privacy concerns and then some. Even some of the very essential things you'd expect any regular web shop to normally have such as a shopping cart just aren't there (yet). It annoys people to a great extent. Epic should have put work and added at least the bare minimum features we've come to expect before starting their aggressive behavior.

If you don't like it, don't spend the money.

The total amount I have spent at the Epic Store: $0. Zip. Zero. Nada. Part of this is because I feel that spending $60 on a game is too much when, in a few months time, the price decreases to a more acceptable point, part of this is because I have too many unplayed games

Steam also launched in September, 2003. There was no such thing as achievements or cloud saving which is taken for granted nowadays. They did, however, have a janky backup utility where you can back up to CDs or DVDs (!!!) which hasn't really been improved for the modern environment where I have a FreeNAS server with 27TB of storage sitting in my closet. Game backups were really important to me when the best I could do in download speeds was 20Mbps, and some of the games are HUGE. Can I easily backup a game using Uplay, Origin, Battle.net, GOG, or Epic? Nope. (Note: I moved to an area that has Gigabit download speeds, so I'm no longer backing up my game downloads). 

The same complaints I hear about the Epic store is the same complaints I have heard about Origin (EA Games) and UPlay (Ubisoft). In those cases, I suspect that Origin and UPlay were set up partially to appease the big retailers who were hesitant about carrying PC software which sets up a competing storefront, and partially to avoid the Steam tax. 

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2 minutes ago, rain3x said:

You're attempting to compare apples to oranges. If Comcast paid Netflix to disallow people that aren't on Comcast from being able to stream their content, it would be much closer to this situation. Now you're shoehorned into Comcast as an ISP if you want to watch Netflix. 

I mean, I could continue to point out the fact that Epic is controlled by Tencent, a Chinese company that has been caught spying and stealing information previously. The fact that the EGS harvests data off your computer without your permission, the same way more malware does and the dozens of other scummy actions Epic/EGS have been implicated in recently, but based solely on "competition" aspect Epic has done nothing but bully gamers into using their lackluster, borderline virus, storefront with money they scammed off users to begin with. Lack of choice is _NEVER_ competition.

I just have to point out that the EGS harvesting information was partially BS, IIRC. Yes, they were accessing your Steam friends list by very dubious means but apparently the information didn't go further than Epic. Of course that's also wrong since customers weren't giving their consent by opting in (rather than having to opt-out) by default and we cannot actually know that for sure so assuming worst is probably ok thing to do.

I'd doubt the claims that they take and upload your hardware information and software information without your permission and share it with Tencent since they could get into deep shit with U.S. officials for doing that like Electronic Arts did when they did something similar. (There was a case of EA's Origin actually taking a lot of information about you and how & when you use your computer and then just running with it.) So this is the one point were I'd hold my horses at least somewhat.

At least because of that incident we started to get information about how Epic mistreats their employees by making them do over time and work during the weekends without proper compensation. I'd say that is far bigger scandal at this time. This ties into the problem of EGS breaking down PC gaming communities rather than building them which I mentioned before along side the privacy and security issues (such as stolen accounts and weak account protections).

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13 minutes ago, ZLoth said:

If you don't like it, don't spend the money.

And therein lies the crux of the problem. people who "don't like it" as you put it got bait and switched into an EGS release effectively taking the choice they were promised out of their hands. No wonder they are pissed, i would be. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

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49 minutes ago, ZLoth said:

If you don't like it, don't spend the money.

The total amount I have spent at the Epic Store: $0. Zip. Zero. Nada. Part of this is because I feel that spending $60 on a game is too much when, in a few months time, the price decreases to a more acceptable point, part of this is because I have too many unplayed games

Steam also launched in September, 2003. There was no such thing as achievements or cloud saving which is taken for granted nowadays. They did, however, have a janky backup utility where you can back up to CDs or DVDs (!!!) which hasn't really been improved for the modern environment where I have a FreeNAS server with 27TB of storage sitting in my closet. Game backups were really important to me when the best I could do in download speeds was 20Mbps, and some of the games are HUGE. Can I easily backup a game using Uplay, Origin, Battle.net, GOG, or Epic? Nope. (Note: I moved to an area that has Gigabit download speeds, so I'm no longer backing up my game downloads). 

The same complaints I hear about the Epic store is the same complaints I have heard about Origin (EA Games) and UPlay (Ubisoft). In those cases, I suspect that Origin and UPlay were set up partially to appease the big retailers who were hesitant about carrying PC software which sets up a competing storefront, and partially to avoid the Steam tax. 

I think you might be moving the goal posts now from "what are the ways to get certain games" into "are we absolutely forced to buy things from EGS". I might have been bit unclear with my initial text, sorry. But yes, I do agree with you that we aren't forced by the gun point to buy stuff from EGS and there are simply too many games for most people to even notice and play on the market right now (which is a problem and EGS probably might be part of the solution in that case).

One of the things of EGS is that game prices probably will not decrease as fast as they do on Steam because AAA and AA and middle market B category games don't have to compete against unfiltered unrestricted torrent of garbage titles and visibility at Steam. Of course this isn't proven yet but we have good reasons to estimate that this will be the case.

Comparing Steam (and its lack of features we've come to expect nowadays) from 2003 to EGS 2019 is bit dishonest, in my opinion. The comparison should be done from 2003 Steam to its competitors at the time. Steam wasn't the first on the market but they were the best by providing customers with features like shopping cart, a backup utility, global pricing and many community features such as forums. Many of these things were not provided by Direct2Drive and other digital game stores back then. All major digital game shops these days provide additional features such as achievements and have done so since they were released. However in 2019 Epic didn't even bother to make any of these their priority and still haven't done them.

Also I think that person shouldn't use oneself as an primary example (or exception to a general trend) when having a discussion of something else such as digital gaming stores and the diverse & global PC gaming community. Most people on the globe are likely to not own high speed and low latency internet connections which we can see from the statistics. In 2018 there are still people who have to go to a public library or their friend's place to download a large size games into external HDD so that they can come home and install it. Steam's backup utility is a great benefit for them. I kind of like how you're proving the point I made that almost all Steam competitors don't provide as good quality service. And there are good reasons for that.

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8 hours ago, ZLoth said:

It's nothing personal. It's just business. 

Why are people getting worked up over which store a game initially appears in? We need some strong competition to the Steam store, and Epic is finally providing it. 

The issue isn't being on the Epic Games Store. The issue is that Ys Net has been telling backers for years that it would be releasing on Steam, and refusing refunds to people who have an issue with the current EGS exclusivity revelation.

Had this game not been crowdfunded, I would not consider the store switch to be an issue.

I feel competition is definitely welcome and should be supported.

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3 hours ago, ZLoth said:

What I'm suspecting is that Epic is giving the publisher a higher percentage of sales in exchange for a exclusive release window. I don't see anything that says that title XXX is never going to show up on Steam, just not at release date.  

From what we can gather based on the few tidbits here and there, Epic basically guarantees a number of sold units, as in regardless of whether the title actually sells a number of paid copies or not developers will still be paid as if they did.

This is good for developers if e.g. Epic guarantees 500 000 copies sold, as that means devs will be paid as if 500 000 copies were sold even in cases where they might not have sold as many copies.

Quote

"If we had to refund 100% of currently pre-orders, we'd still be in the black," they say. "In the black" is a retail term meaning one turns a profit. So doing the math, Epic has promised Snapshot Games well over $2 million to be exclusive.

The community manager went on to clarify the terms of the deal, saying that Epic's promise didn't come in the form of a single paycheck. Instead it was "for a minimum guarantee - which means Epic will guarantee that we will sell X number of copies. Even if we don't hit that number, they still pay us."

Source: https://www.thegamer.com/epic-store-2-million-sales-exchange-exclusivity/

That developers and/or publishers enters an agreement with Epic isn't weird when faced with the alternative. It's basically a guaranteed income for a timed (non-Steam) exclusive window vs. an uncertain income for that same period of time. Sure, some titles might've seen the same sorts of income on the Steam platform, or even higher, but the flood of titles releasing on Steam every day makes it much harder to differentiate oneself from the competition and reach the possible audience.

While I don't like Epic's platform, nor this way of garnering timed exclusives to build an audience and platform, I can at least see the value of it from the perspective of publishers or developers. It is therefor understandable why many titles choose to go timed exclusive on Epic when faced with the choice.

At the end of the day game development is a business first and foremost from the perspective of corporate game studios.

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