So, what is Shenmue III - and why should I care?
Shenmue III is a long awaited game, that fans truly only dreamt would actually come to fruition.
The series began its life on the SEGA Dreamcast in 2000, created by auteur Yu Suzuki. Originally planned to contain 11 chapters
in an intertwined story - and ideally 4-5 games to cover that saga - with your save game decisions carrying over to the next.
At the time, the original Shenmue cost $47 million to develop, albeit included in that was a near complete version developed
originally for the SEGA Saturn console - with elements of that game then being split up between Shenmue 1 & 2 and then ported
onto the Dreamcast.
The series went on to be beloved by fans around the world, with Shenmue fathering not only modern open-world game design
that we all see today, but day & night cycles, real-time weather cycles and quick-time events also. Unfortunately SEGA left
the console space, so we never got to see the rest of the Shenmue story with the second game ending on a cliffhanger.
Fast forward 14 years and now we finally get our chance.
Why are they using Kickstarter?
For many years Yu Suzuki has approached various publishers to re-visit his dream of completing the Shenmue saga.
Unfortunately due to not only how much of a risk the game is, compared to the cost of development - but some Publishers
demanded creative compromises to the game, to make it more marketable to their audience. Yu Suzuki has turned down those
offers, refusing to compromise his vision of the game.
So now partnering with Sony to launch their Kickstarter at PlayStation E3 conference - the future of the series is now in our
hands - and itís already off to a fantastic start.
The Kickstarter not only broke the website upon launch, but it even broke two
Guinness World Recordís - being the
fastest Kickstarter to break the $1 million and $2 million dollar mark, and in turn funding
itís initial goal.
What is Sonyís involvement?
With Sony kicking-off the Kickstarter
at their E3 conference, and the title currently being set for PC and PlayStation 4 release
only - many wrongly believed that Sony is footing the bill of development costs (or should be if itís not). This is not the case, with
Adam Boyes being forthright in stating that such a move would carry too much risk and would require a lot of negotiating with
investors that would push the project many more years further into development.
What Sony are doing though is paying for all the marketing costs for the game, and helping finance the PlayStation 4 port. This obviously matters more when the game is
actually made and will likely amount to more cost than the Kickstarter will raise for the games initial development, through crowdfunding. Itís also unconfirmed if
Sony are providing manpower and hardware for the development of the title - with Director of Third Party Productions Gio Corsi,
stating at E3 ďit's going to be run through third party production and we're going to help YS Net get the game doneĒ.
So what will Shenmue III be like?
The scope and scale of Shenmue III relies entirely on how much money the Kickstarter generates.
The initial goal of $2 million was to fund just the basic story premise - with each stretch goal tier beyond that,
increasing the games scale to ultimately match the original two titles. Though the Kickstarter does state Ys Net has secured
some money from unnamed sources, prior the Kickstarter launch that it canít disclose.
What this means, is that itís unlikely the title will match up to the lofty heights of the original two games in terms of sheer
size and diversity, but the important part is we get to finally see the Shenmue story to its conclusion - and this entirely depends
on the success of the Shenmue III Kickstarter.