Shenmue III appeared at the PC Gaming Show at E3 this year with lead designer Yu Suzuki in tow to show off a new trailer. More importantly, the announcement that Shenmue III would now be an Epic Games Store exclusive was also revealed during the show. This change in policy was later confirmed via a Kickstarter update, which sent many of the original Shenmue III backers into a furor. Per the update, this move seems to be due in part because of the relationship with publisher Deep Silver:
We are happy to announce that Shenmue III for PC will be will be an Epic Games Store exclusive. Development for Shenmue III has been moving forward using Unreal Engine and the support we have received from Epic has been excellent. But most importantly, in looking for the most enjoyable experience on PC, it was decided together with Deep Silver after much discussion that the Epic Games Store would be the best distribution platform option.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95UGztD5_jM
This, unfortunately for backers and those expecting to see the legendary life simulation RPG appear on Steam, has caused quite a stir. During the original Kickstarter campaign, backers were promised Steam keys, as it was the only viable distribution platform four years ago. Now that the market has changed, it seems that those original backers will be given Epic Games Store codes in lieu of Steam ones. Some of the comments on the Kickstarter page are clamoring for refunds, which, given the vocal opposition to Epic Games Store, is to be expected. Considering the comments are only in the hundreds, and nearly 70,000 people backed Shenmue III, those looking for refunds appear to be in the minority.
Some users are threatening legal action, if the tone of a popular Reddit thread is to be believed. Unfortunately for their anger, it's unlikely that any sort of legal recourse would come out of Shenmue III moving to another distribution service; false advertising and the like require definitive proof that Ys Net and Deep Silver were actively selling Shenmue III on Steam while working to move to Epic's store. As Shenmue III wasn't even available for purchase, the internet's rage will, unfortunately, have no target.
While the Steam page is still up for Shenmue III, one would expect Deep Silver and Ys Net to move to take down the page before long. Without taking preorders, it's much easier for Deep Silver and Ys Net to pull out of the platform than, say, what happened with Anno 1800 and Metro Exodus. Still, regardless of your feelings about the Epic Games Store itself, this move is an unusual one, as there's no way to buy Shenmue I & II on Epic's store currently. You can see the next installment of the Shenmue saga when it releases this fall, on November 19th.
If you want to know more about this and other announcements happening at E3 then be sure to check out our E3 2019 Coverage Hub.