Deep Silver is under fire for ditching Steam in favour of Epic Store for Metro Exodus sales. Now it appears the publisher blindsided physical copy buyers, Valve and retail stores, despite planning the switch for a prolonged period of time.
Deep Silver marketed Metro Exodus heavily during 2018, as the title is set to be a flagship one, so no surprise there. The problem arose due to the company advertising the PC version as coming to the Steam store as well as being sold in retail as physical copies. As it turns out, these physical copies are not coming in the form of Steam keys, but rather as Epic Store keys.
As you may have figured out by now, the "physical" copies are not really physical, but this practice has been around for a while so Deep Silver are not to blame for not delivering actual old-fashioned discs to buyers. They are, however, to blame for advertising these copies as Steam keys for months now and pulling the bait-and-switch in the last moment.
It's not a figurative last moment either, as preorders for some editions of the game cannot be cancelled after 31 January 2019, and the information regarding the switch to Epic Store only came on 28 January 2019. In other words, buyers had only three days to react and cancel their preorder if they didn't want their copy of Metro Exodus to be stuck on Epic Games launcher's library.
Considering the production of physical copies does not happen overnight, it is not impossible Deep Silver and Epic Games have been planning the switcheroo for some time, only informing consumers and Valve two weeks before the launch.
Both Valve and consumers found themselves blindsided in this situation, as promotional material only mentioned Steam during all these months of marketing, with the Spartan Collector's Edition being only one of the examples. You can see which stores it was advertised for on the video above, at the 1:01 time stamp. Or you can just check out the screenshot we provided.
All of those who preordered a physical copy of the game will now be forced into a launcher that supports always online DRM instead, so players who don't have a stable connection may find themselves unable to play Metro Exodus at times, despite paying full price for a singleplayer game they thought they would have on Steam.
Therefore, lawsuits due to false advertising and consumer protection laws are highly likely to happen in the coming days, especially considering that a bulk of fans are constantly voicing their displeasure with the switch, both on Reddit and Twitter. On top of that, retailers that have physical copies of Metro Exodus in stock still seem to be under the impression they are selling the game with Steam codes included.