June 28, 2019 According to Epic’s CEO, Valve policies prevent crowdfunded games from issuing Steam keys when they’re launching on other platforms.
Steam is the de facto standard for PC game distribution these days, and most crowdfunded projects use Valve’s service to distribute game keys. The latest entry in the Shenmue series is a notable exception. Shenmue 3 will launch exclusively on the Epic Games store, and there are no apparent plans to distribute backer keys via Steam.
According to Epic boss Tim Sweeney, that’s the result of Steam policy. “As far as we and our partners can determine,” Sweeney tweets (via PCGamingWiki), “Valve policy prohibits providing Steam keys for games that aren’t going to be available at launch on Steam. This would make it impossible to deliver Steam keys for a game releasing exclusively on Epic at launch.”
In other words, Sweeney’s saying that Valve isn’t willing to distribute keys for games that are otherwise only available on other platforms. He adds that “Epic would be happy to fund partners paying 30% for Steam keys for backers if Valve were willing to provide Steam keys for a game that’s not actively in release on Steam.”
Naturally, this also wouldn’t be an issue if Epic hadn’t partnered with Shenmue 3 publisher Deep Silver and developer Ys Net for exclusivity. To that, Sweeney says “Epic’s not going to refuse funding worthy exclusivity partners just because a Steam policy change traps crowdfunded projects into either launching on Steam for 30% or offering backers refunds.”
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The folks behind Shenmue 3 plan to “assess the situation” in regards to exclusivity, though whether anything results from that – or if it’s just an inescapable response to the backlash – remains to be seen. For now, all Steam-loyal fans have is the assurance that the game will be available for purchase on Valve’s store in the future.