When the word got out that Shenmue 3 was getting financial help from Sony, not just E3 stage time, some gamers understandably flipped out. Were Yu Suzuki and crew duping fans into supporting a big-budget sequel in the guise of a crowdfunded indie title? Well, you can relax a little -- Suzuki has come clean and explained to backers just how Sony and partner Shibuya Productions are involved. On top of an apology for misleading supporters, the developer notes that Sony and Shibuya are helping out with marketing, production and (in Sony's case) "some publishing." While he can't talk about the terms, he's adamant that your money is going directly to Shenmue's development. The other companies are "not seeing a cent" of your pledge, Suzuki says.
The disclosure should help assuage some jittery backers, although it also suggests that crowdfunded game studios still have something to learn about being up front about their financing. Although the teams behind projects like Shenmue 3 and the Castlevania-inspired Bloodstained have been quick to answer questions about outside help, their campaigns aren't very explicit about why they'd like your money. In situations like these, your contribution mostly helps the designers gauge interest and work on bonus features that wouldn't otherwise be practical. Those are fine motivations, but they're seldom as obvious as you might like.