Epic Games' continued efforts to leap into competition with Valve's Steam remain stalwart as changes have been made to Epic Games Store policy following a recent controversy. Shenmue 3 fans grew angry following the announcement that Shenmue 3 would be an Epic Games Store exclusive on PC, a shift away from a promised release on Steam made during the game's Kickstarter crowdfunding. Initially left without recourse, Shenmue 3 fans will now be eligible for a refund.
Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic Games, confirmed the change in plans on Twitter. Epic will be "funding the cost of all Kickstarter refunds" stemming from the game's new exclusivity deal with the Epic Games Store. Steam keys will also be offered to Shenmue 3 supporters who stick around, following the duration of the game's 1-year exclusivity contract. Alternatively, PC Shenmue 3 supporters can opt to receive a PS4 code instead.
Sweeney then went a step further and revealed this also marked a change in Epic's policy going forward. Any Epic-exclusive game brought to the platform after offering support for other platforms like Steam through a crowdfunding campaign will have guaranteed refunds for users who want them. Refunds will be offered immediately following any such exclusivity announcement.
Epic also states that it will make a larger effort to coordinate with other storefronts to "ensure key availability in advance." In other words, Epic will try and offer keys based on original promises made during a Kickstarter/crowdfunding campaign while also maintaining future exclusivity to the Epic Games Store. One would assume this meant that Shenmue 3 Kickstarter supporters could have still gotten a Steam key if they wanted, but Steam keys wouldn't otherwise be sold for the duration of the exclusivity.
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.— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) July 2, 2019
Epic is, of course, not making any changes to plans to offer exclusive games via the Epic Games Store. The company has made clear that this is what it believes is necessary to compete with Steam and it's not going back on that. However, it is learning from its mistakes and is continuing to improve the process. The process just, unfortunately, started in a very rough place and Epic is having to make up a lot of ground very quickly.
Shenmue 3 releases August 27 on PC and PS4.