It appears that Ys Net is attempting to break the record for worst treatment given to a group of Kickstarter Backers with the release of Shenmue 3, which has been plagued with issues for months. This week they reached a new low by informing its backers that they will not be getting any pre-order content for the game. The backers will need to pay full price for it, despite being the earliest financial supporters of the project.
The news came to light when user Antonio Miranda posted a response by Ys Net to the Kickstarter comment section— which was mostly in regards to a question about the season pass— and added the following:
“Standard and deluxe versions released through retail sales are not affiliated with the crowdfunding campaign, so will not be included with backer pledges, however, they will be available for sale separately. Kickstarter Backers will receive the Kickstarter version, Slacker Backers will receive the Slacker Backer version. Both have unique content respective to their versions not available in the retail versions.”
When fans sought clarity to the statement, a correction was was added:
“Edit @ 18:03GMT – On the pre-order content, as it seems people are unsure what the pre-order content is, it is as follows as can be found on the PlayStation store or on gamepreorders.com:
Pre-order Shenmue III digitally to receive the ‘Blazing Kick’ Advanced Technique Scroll, Kenpogi Training outfit, and a Peking Power Starter Pack.”
And there lies the problem. Those who believed most in the project at its inception and paid their hard-earned money to see the game become a reality are being cast aside. In the strictest sense, nothing wrong has been done - as the Kickstarter backers were never promised pre-order content - but in the spirit of things, it is a kick in the gut. The backers were the ones who made this project possible in the first place, after all; the act of asking them to pay more money to access content that they have already paid to make possible in the first place seems egregiously ungrateful, at best.
It is, as many would call it, a jerk move. They could be forgiven if perhaps this was a single, unfortunate occurrence, but as it stands it's only the most recent scandal in a string of scandals. First, they ditched Steam to become an Epic exclusive, then they were unable to provide Steam keys to backers who had already been promised that they would be given—at which point Epic needed to step in and offer refunds to those who requested it.
Overall, this is another step in the wrong direction for the project. Kickstarters that meet and exceed their goals are fueled by the faith that fans have in the vision of the project. After the spectacular debacle that Ys Net has made out of the release of Shenmue 3, it's unlikely that they'll be able to crowdfund another project ever again.