UPDATE: Publisher Deep Silver has moved the embargo on Shenmue III back to its release day on November 19th. Original story follows.
Shenmue III’s review embargo doesn’t lift until after the game has already been released.
Shenmue III has been a game filled with controversy from day one. First, it was about delays that pushed the game back 2 years past its initial release date. Then it was the sudden move to become an Epic exclusive title on PC even though the Kickstarter campaign had promised backers a key on Steam.
After finally getting that squared away with refunds to anyone who wants them, Shenmue III is rocked by yet another controversy mere days away from the game’s release date.
Shenmue 3 release date - November 19. Shenmue 3 review embargo - November 21. That’s a new one.— Kirk McKeand (@MckKirk) November 16, 2019
According to VG247 editor Kirk McKeand, the review embargo for Shenmue III doesn’t lift until after it’s November 19th release date. A later tweet further clarified that this appears to be the case for the UK (and possibly all of Europe), but the review embargo for North America will be November 19th as usual.
Review embargoes aren’t necessarily a new feature in games, but they have been getting set closer and closer to release day in recent years. Before, reviews would often could out several days before the game does in order for potential customers to decide whether they want to buy it. But as games development becomes more make-and-break than ever, with day one patches designed into the development process, review copies that accurately reflect the state of a game on release day are basically impossible.
These days review embargoes are typically set for the same day as a game’s release to account for those day-one patches. However, pushing them back past the release day is unheard of.
Reddit has already weighed-in, saying this doesn’t bode well for the quality of Shenmue III. A day-one patch has already been confirmed to be 14.5 GB and will fix many bugs and balancing issues with the game. Although that’s not the biggest initial patch we’ve seen, it’s certainly up there.
Shenmue III comes out tomorrow on the PlayStation and Epic Games stores. We’ll see if it’s worth the wait then.