We’ve heard quite a bit about the oft-perplexing world of review embargo in recent weeks. But, nothing quite prepared us for Deep Silver’s latest move. Shenmue III launches next week on Nov. 19, but the developer has barred the gaming press from sharing their take on the two-decades-in-the-making title until two days after release on Nov. 21.
Embargo Lifts After Shenmue III Release
You read correctly; the embargo doesn’t lift until the game has been in the hands of gamers for two days. We’ve grown accustomed to reviewing restrictions lifting a few hours before release, as we saw recently with Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. But, Shenmue III scrambles to new heights.
The heads up comes courtesy of VG247’s deputy editor, Kirk McKeand, who shared the news via Twitter.
The natural assumption is that Deep Silver expects a generally negative response from critics and wants to ensure sales before the reviews pile in. While it’s easy to pick holes at the strategy for being overly cynical, the controversy-plagued lead up to release may have prompted the decision.
A Checkered Past
Back in July, Deep Silver announced Shenmue 3 would be an Epic Game Store exclusive for the first year. This after initially promising a Steam release. The move invariably drew the ire of Kickstarter backers and the broader player base. Epic Games stepped in with the offer to refund those unhappy with the unexpected switch.
Disgruntled gamers have been known to orchestrate review bombs on aggregator sites like Metascore as a form of indirect protest at platform exclusively. We saw this most recently with Death Stranding. Shenmue III could be in for a similar fate.
It doesn’t help that delays are synonymous with Shenmue III. The game was initially slated for release in December 2017 before it was pushed back to late 2018 due expansion of the game’s scope. In May 2018, the developer once again delayed Shenmue III, this time to 2019, before confirming a launch date of Aug. 27, 2019 later that year. Fast forward to June this year, and Deep Silver once again postponed the release to its final date of Nov. 19, 2019.
Whether Shenmue III will be a worthy homage to a by-gone era in gaming or a disappointing flop remains to be seen, but with Deep Silver’s latest decision, the latter seems increasingly likely.