Shenmue III’s launch is going to be a mess

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Shenmue III, the long-awaited finale to Yu Suzuki’s forklift operator, delivery service, karaoke, faff-about simulator, is launching on November 19th and the whole thing has turned into quite the drama. First, there was a Kickstarter in 2015 that raised over $6.3 million. Then, Deep Silver swooped in right after the crowdfunding campaign ended and snatched up the publishing rights, causing a ruckus with fans that feared developer Ys Net was giving up their independence. Last month, Ys Net announced the PC version of the game would launch as an Epic Store exclusive for a year, greatly angering fans that had expected a Steam key for their pledge on the release date. Today, the developers, Epic Games, and Deep Silver confirmed that refund requests would be honored – in most cases. Unfortunately for folks that pledged to tiers that included physical rewards, they won’t be getting full refunds since those tchotchkes are in production. PlayStation players remain unaffected by the commotion.

Although the original Kickstarter reached many stretch goals, Ys Net also clarified that some promised features were cut, while other goals that were never reached will be implemented. The biggest miss is an “Expanded Character Perspective” system, but players will get a much larger open-world structure for key areas of the game.

All the news has resulted in the usual griping and Steam discussion flurry with some players vowing to never trust Deep Silver or Ys Net again, others opining on Epic’s business practices, and everyone proclaiming support for their favorite flavor of digital store. It’s a microcosm of the Epic Games Store debate. It’s a gloriously divisive and emotional mess that Shenmue fans should appreciate.