Harebrained Schemes announced that Shadowrun Returns will be launched this June for the PC. In addition, the development team revealed that pre-orders will open in April 29th, and that the game will be released via Steam. In other words, Shadowrun Returns won’t be DRM-free as it was advertised back in its Kickstarter days. Well okay, a version of it will be distributed for free, however future DLCs will be distributed exclusively via Valve’s distribution service.
As the team revealed:
“Now, that may prompt the question, “What about DRM-free?” To honor our original promise of a DRM-free version of the game, the Harebrained Account Website will also contain a downloadable version of Shadowrun Returns that does not include Steam integration. While this version will include the Seattle story (and Berlin, via a one-time update), without Steam integration, it will be unable to browse and play community-created stories from within the game. Any future DLC will only be available through Steam. “
The team chose Steam because it allows them to ‘provide up-to-date downloads and patching along with a vibrant ecosystem for developing community-created content and file sharing‘.
We’re pretty sure that this decision will backfire as a lot of gamers wanted a DRM-free copy of Shadow Returns, with proper post-launch support. Truth be told, all backers will receive a Steam key, however that was not what was promised back then.
At this point, we’re not certain about our feelings toward that change. You see, a lot of Kickstarted games claim to be DRM-free, and that’s a really strong feature for most of them. The fact that Shadowrun Returns is ‘abandoning’ such a feature worries us, as other developers may follow.
This also makes all those stretch goals (for most PC projects) feel laughable as you never know whether a developer will change its mind – in order to ease its development cycle – or not. So what’s the point of crowd-funding?
Let’s hope that Harebrained Schemes will find a way to offer all of the game’s DLCs to those who decide to play the DRM-free version of Shadowrun Returns!