Epic vows to cover Kickstarter refunds for exclusive titles following Shenmue III mess

Epic vows to cover Kickstarter refunds for exclusive titles following Shenmue III mess

Games giant Epic has promised to fund the cost of refunds for consumers who are unhappy with a Kickstarter project they backed being an exclusive on the Fortnite firm's storefront.

In a post on Twitter, the North Carolina-based company's CEO Tim Sweeney (pictured) said that Epic would be covering the cost of refunds for customers who backed the eagerly-anticipated and long-awaited Shenmue III and are unhappy about the PC version only being available on the Epic Games store.

Not only that, Sweeney's firm would be doing the same for any future crowdfunded titles that make their way to the Epic Games Store as an exclusive. The exec also said it didn't want refunds to cut into developer Ys Net'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," Sweeney wrote.

"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."

Developer Ys Net has also said on the Shenmue III Kickstarter page that it would offer alternative versions of the game for those who don't want to play the title on the Epic Games Store.

"As noted in the updates and survey at launch, we had originally planned for PC distribution through Steam," the company wrote.

"Taking publishing and sales considerations into account, Ys Net and Deep Silver agreed to our partnership with Epic Games Store on PC version distribution. As a publishing partner, Deep Silver has greatly contributed not only to sales and marketing, but to scaling up the game so there is more Shenmue III to begin with. Also, Epic Games has been with us from the start of the project when we adopted Unreal Engine 4 for development, and have given us their support throughout the development process.

"In response to backers who have requested Steam keys for their rewards, we discussed offering the keys on the day of release. However, coordination with the sales policies of the involved companies was untenable, and as a result we are not able to make a day one distribution option for Steam keys available.

"That we are not able to offer Steam keys for Kickstarter rewards at the time of the game’s release is a great disappointed and inconvenience for those backers who were expecting to receive them. We deeply apologise for the unrest caused by the announcement."

Shenmue III was announced on-stage at PlayStation's E3 2015 conference, with a Kickstarter campaign kicking off then and there. That Kickstarter push brought in $6.3m from 69,320 backers before it closed.

PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.