In a bizarre twist of fate, the developers of Shenmue III have decided to revoke select crowdfunding rewards for the “slacker backer” PayPal contributors.
To the surprise of many, Shenmue returned after a nearly 15 year absence with a teaser trailer for the third installment, shown during Sony’s 2015 E3 conference. However, Shenmue III would only happen if fans were willing to contribute to a Kickstarter campaign to aide in funding the development of the title. Not only did Shenmue fans successfully fund the third installment, but the Shenmue III Kickstarter campaign became the highest-funded Kickstarter campaign for any gaming-related project.
While fans have much to rejoice about, the crowdfunding campaign was constantly under fire due to the secretive nature of outside funding and misleading data: As it was not previously stated within the Kickstarter, it was revealed that Sony would also help fund the game, but only if fans showed interest through contributing to the campaign; in the closing days of the Kickstarter, Director/Producer Yu Suzuki also claimed that the proposed funding goal would not be sufficient enough to create their fully-realized vision of Shenmue III.
At the close of the campaign, Shenmue III developer Ys Net announced that fans would still have the option of contributing via PayPal as a “slacker backer”. Even though these participants would not technically be part of the Kickstarter campaign, PayPal contributors would still receive rewards based on their contribution tier. Ys Net held a Kickstarter-exclusive poll during the final week of December, with the purpose of deciding whether or not post-campaign contributors should receive the same tier rewards. From the 69,320 Kickstarter “backers”, only 15,111 individuals participated in Ys Net’s poll. The proposed question and results are as follows:
Should Kickstarter Exclusive Rewards be made available on the PayPal page?
- (30.90%, 4,670 votes) “Yes, please make the Kickstarter Exclusive Rewards available on PayPal.”
- (26.53%, 4,009 votes) “No, Kickstarter Exclusive Rewards are for Kickstarter only.”
- (42.57%, 6,432 votes) “Either is fine with me. “
Though the majority of decided voters were in favor of opening up the rewards to the post-campaign contributors, and post-Kickstarter PayPal backers were originally promised the same digital and physical rewards, Ys Net has opted to revoke the rewards for PayPal contributors. Even with the recorded data being in favor of extending the rewards to the post-campaign contributors, the decision was ultimately made due to a “strong response” from the “No” voters:
“Considering the strong response from those of you who felt that the Exclusive Rewards should remain exclusive for the Kickstarter, those Exclusive Rewards will not be made available on the PayPal page as originally promised.
Thank you all for your participation. We hope everyone will continue to let their voices be heard as we go forward with the project.”
Be it Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, Fig or other crowdfunding platforms, it’s tradition to include special rewards tied to a contribution tier. Depending on how much a backer contributes to the campaign, he or she may receive exclusive additional digital or physical content; rewards typically feature a soundtrack, exclusive DLC, concept art, collectible items, or the occasional autographed memorabilia from the development team. In select cases, fans can still contribute to a developer and receive rewards long after the crowdfunding campaign is closed. A prime example lies with WayForward’s crowdfunding campaign for Shantae: Half-Genie Hero; after the Kickstarter campaign closed, late “slacker backers” could still contribute directly to WayForward through PayPal, and receive the same rewards as the Kickstarter participants.
Shenmue III is expected to release for PS4 and PC in late 2017.
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