Shenmue III developed Ys Studio opts to not give PayPal ‘slacker backers’ Kickstarter rewards, despite backers voting they deserve rewards for contributing.
Sega’s ambitious Shenmue series managed to amass a hardcore fan following that loved the title for its oddball mixture of revenge drama and everyday life simulator. While many were largely indifferent to a series that put so much emphasis on toy collecting and forklift driving, the franchise managed to net itself two beloved entries for the Dreamcast and Xbox. But the hardcore following wasn’t enough to offset the title’s monumental budgets, leading to Sega pulling the plug on the series’ proposed third and final release. Shenmue protagonist Ryo Hazuki seemed doomed to exist solely as a perennial cameo character.
But suddenly Shenmue was back. Announced by series director Yu Suzuki at E3 2015, Shenmue III was gearing up to bring back Ryo and company in an epic game that would finally tie the series together. But there was a twist: if fans wanted to see Shenmue III, they would need to speak with their wallets and contribute on Kickstarter. The game would shatter Kickstarter records by managing to meet its initial target of $2 million in a mere eight hours, later ending the campaign with a whopping $6 million.
But Sega, hoping to drum up more fan money, would open the door for PayPal contributed crowdfunding on September 17th, allowing fans looking to contribute to the title to become “slacker backers.” Fans continued to contribute to the game in droves, with Sega finally ending the contribution drive at the end of 2015. But now developer Ys Net is saying that these late coming backers shouldn’t receive the same treatment as the fans that backed the title through Kickstarter.
The developer opened a poll for contributors that pledged over $5 to Shenmue III, posing the question on whether or not “slacker backers” should be given the same Kickstarter exclusive rewards. The poll closed on January 1st, with 4,670 voting yes, 4,009 voting no, and 6,432 voting that they didn’t care either way.
Despite no coming in last, Suzuki and Ys Studio have doubled down on the idea and opted to exclude PayPal backers from receiving Kickstarter rewards, citing a “strong response.”
The rewards, which include an exclusive desktop wallpaper set and in-game items, were originally promised to “slacker backers,” but Ys Studio will now only reward these items to backers that went through Kickstarter. Since making this proclamation, the studio has yet to offer clarification regarding the rationale behind the decision. As one can imagine, fan reaction has been decidedly negative, with backers lashing out at the company for leaving fans out despite putting the decision to a vote.
While the decision to pull rewards for PayPal backers may leave some steaming, Ys Studio is focusing on the highly anticipated game, with the developer shooting for a December 2017 launch. Should the game require additional funding (as Broken Age did during its Kickstarter debacle,) this sudden shift in backer treatment could lead to fans opting to not contribute, which could lead to problems for the title.