CEO of Epic Games Tim Sweeney is one of few CEOs that doesn't hide behind PR walls and in his latest Twitter exchange he said Epic would gladly pay the Steam key premium so Shenmue 3's backers get what they want, if Valve allowed it.
The discussion happened on Sweeney's tweet of GOG Galaxy 2.0, the launcher to unite all launchers, but it didn't take long for someone to call him out for what's going on with Shenmue 3.
Now, let us first state some facts here. Epic are not Shenmue 3's publisher, only its store. Ys Net's Kickstarter campaign 3 never promised Steam keys, nor did it mention anything more than a PC version - subsequent surveys did that, which is not the same.
"If there were a way to deliver Steam keys to existing backers, the developers, publishers, and Epic would love to make that happen even after going exclusive, and we'd be happy to pay 30% for the keys. But as we understand it, Steam takes an all-or-nothing stance", he said.
It seems to us that Epic Games have been catching an unreasonable amount of flak for some of their deals, whether it's guilt by association, being blasted for the policy of exclusivity that's not exclusivity, or paying developers bribes that aren't really bribes.
Vouching to pay a game's fees on another platform, so that a developer can honour a promise they did not make, sounds like the most benevolent move Epic can do here, and we don't know of many companies that would suggest this.
The narrative then veered onto ethical and moral corruption of Epic's storefront, which is especially rich when the moralist in question prioritises own choice of launcher over others' livelihoods.
"Is escaping the 30% Steam tax a privilege reserved only for games made by powerful corporations? What moral principle prohibits smaller developers and publishers from making deals to get funding and lower 12% store fees, or prohibits Epic from offering them?", Sweeney enquired.