There’s nothing quite like E3 season when it comes to weeding out which games are developing smoothly and which titles need more time. Studios with games targeting a release in a given E3’s year will often go out of the way to have a presence at the massive electronics show, even if it is simply a trailer or Q & A panel. When a studio meeting that criteria announces it will be absent from E3, however, it begins to raise serious questions about a project’s development. That was the case with the development team behind Shenmue 3, which, despite a targeted launch date of December 2017, announced last week that it would be skipping E3 2017 to focus on game development.
It should come as no surprise, then, that Shenmue 3 project director Yu Suzuki had another announcement earlier today. One of the key creative minds behind the revival of Shenmue released a video to the game’s Kickstarter backers that officially confirmed what many fans feared – Shenmue 3 will be significantly delayed, and is now expected to release in the second half of 2018. Here’s the video:
Despite having to break the news of Shenmue 3‘s delay, however, Suzuki appeared excited about the game’s future, suggesting that the delay was necessary because the game world and experiences within Shenmue 3 had grown far larger than the development team had initially anticipated. Although one of 2017’s most anticipated games will now have to be shifted to the 2018 list instead, the delay seems to be an organic one that comes from the scale of the project growing and evolving rather than any sort of dysfunction in development. Suzuki said this on the delay:
“In many ways, the game has become bigger and more beautiful than I initially expected…in order to achieve the game concept you supported and my sixteen year-long personal dream, we have revised the development schedule.”
Although many will feel Shenmue 3‘s delay is on the acceptable side of things – the project has only been in development for two years or so, not the decade that others have taken – the delay does add more fuel to the fire regarding the recent discussion of Kickstarter games. Reports have suggested that people simply aren’t as interested in Kickstarter games anymore, largely due to the number of titles that have been met with delays or outright cancellations despite successful funding campaigns. While we don’t anticipate Shenmue 3 will run into any trouble, it is yet another strike against a platform of development that has already been struggling to remain relevant in the eyes of gaming fans.
Ultimately, though, fans eager for a well-made Shenmue sequel will likely gladly accept a half-year delay. The game has been such a long time coming already that an extra few months will do little to dampen expectations for the revival of a cult classic.
Shenmue 3 will release for PS4 and PC in the back half of 2018.