After becoming one of E3 2015’s big surprise reveals, die-hard fans of Shenmue 3 have made sure that the long-awaited title will be released no matter what happens. With more than 69,000 backers, the game’s crowd funding campaign has turned into a bona fide hit, becoming Kickstarter’s most successful video game project in the website’s history. Nevertheless, the financing drive has ended, and the project’s final sum has reached a little over $6.3 million.
Yu Suzuki – Shenmue 3‘s creator and director – has been keen on getting the sequel off the ground for quite some time. As a matter of fact, it’s been a little over 14 years since the last installment in the series was released, for the game has been stuck in development hell for an almost interminable period. Thankfully, the project will eventually see the light of day, but Suzuki says that if fans want the best product possible, his studio Ys Net is going to need more money.
In a recent interview with Eurogamer, Suzuki-san discussed the return of Ryo Hazuki in Shenmue 3, how he wants to continue the series with Shenmue 4, and the budget required in order to make the forthcoming title an all-around success. Regarding the game’s finances and the potential trade-offs in development that might have to be made, the director says:
“I could do with a bit more money! The game itself doesn’t have to be gorgeous visually – a lot of the money these days goes into the graphics. If we perhaps compromise on the graphics and put more into the story, we can make a good game. The most important thing, to me, is that the game’s interesting, and that it’s something people want to play.
“Kickstarter’s not the only source of money. There’s also funding from Sony and Shibuya Productions. Before we started Kickstarter, we had goals set around the budget – so if we only got $6 million, we’d create Shenmue 3 based upon what we could do with that $6 million.”
Suzuki’s eagerness to acquire more capital for better visuals is natural. As it happens, the director launched a PayPal campaign following Tokyo Game Show 2015 in order to further fund Shenmue 3.
Since Shenmue 3 will be competing with a lot of other AAA titles with much bigger budgets, the game will need all the help it can get—stronger graphics included—to stand out from the opposition. However, visuals for current-gen platforms are a rather contentious subject. Some fans think that graphics can make or break a release, while others subscribe to the school of thought believing that visuals are an important component, but that a title can be great as long as the gameplay and story are compelling.
Regardless, Suzuki promises that he will scrape together as much scratch as possible to make Shenmue 3 a special game. Should his studio garner more resources, the development team will also be able to refine gameplay elements well beyond visuals. Concerning the issue, Suzuki says:
“We’re still trying to gather funds. Obviously, the more money we have the more we can do. Even if we don’t get as much budget as the previous games, we’ll still make this game.
“Kickstarter’s finished, so we know what the minimum budget is. We completed the game flow at the end of August, this month we’re testing the game engine for Shenmue to see how it works. The team’s a lot smaller than when we [were] working on Shenmue 2. But the process is just beginning – at this point we only need a small team.”
While the Shenmue games graphics’ were pretty marvelous for their time, visuals have never really been a primary focus for the series. What’s made the franchise so memorable and desired is its in-depth and stellar narrative. Although top-notch designs would be ideal, Shenmue 3 will surely be a remarkable experience once it’s finally released.
Shenmue 3 is being developed for the PlayStation 4 and PC, with a target window for a Christmas 2017 release, but no official date for availability has been announced as of yet.