E3 2015: Shenmue 3 Might Finally Become Reality – UPDATE

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Today at the Sony Press Conference famed game designer and creator of Shenmue, Yu Suzuki, joined Adam Boyes on stage to share that he is launching a Kickstarter funding campaign for the long-awaited Shenmue III.

Although Mr. Boyes made it clear that this was not a PlayStation-backed endeavor, he did say that he and others at PlayStation were excited for this Kickstarter campaign, and that he wanted Suzuki-san on stage at the PlayStation press conference.

While I have not personally played the first two games in the Shenmue franchise, the franchise is near and dear to me, because it has been closely associated to one of my most favorite franchises, Yakuza.

There have been countless petitions, comments on blog posts, news coverage, Facebook posts, and tweets from fans clamoring for a Shenmue III, and now it might finally become a reality―if this Kickstarter campaign is a success.

It’s been about forty minutes since the announcement has been made, and there is already over one million dollars pledged towards the two million dollar goal―I think this is going to be a huge success.

UPDATE – In less than 24 hours since the announcement, the campaign has been fully funded and has almost reached the first two and a half million dollar stretch goal!

Above the two-million dollar campaign goal, there are several stretch goals:

  • $2.5 Million – Shenmue 1 & 2 Cinema Shorts
  • $2.6 Million – German Subtitles
  • $2.7 Million – French Subtitles
  • $2.8 Million – Spanish Subtitles
  • $2.9 Million – Italian Subtitles
  • $3.2 Million – Rapport System
  • $3.5 Million – Skill Tree System
  • $4.0 Million – Baisha Villiage Expanded Mini Games X 5

So far, the rewards are as follows (according to the Kickstarter campaign page):

  • $5 pledge – Shenmue Lives
    • Yu Suzuki’s thanks and praise.
    • Be able to participate in surveys and vote in polls for the ideas you want to see in the game.
  • $29 pledge – Digital Copy for PC or PS4
    • Digital copy of Shenmue 3 for PC or PS4.
    • Includes the $5 Reward.
  • $60 pledge – Special Backer Edition Physical Copy – PC
    • Physical copy of Shenmue 3 in an exclusive, backer-only case (PC only).
    • Includes the $5 Reward.
  • $100 pledge – Shenmue III Trial Version
    • Your choice of a digital copy of the game for PC or PS4, or a physical copy for PC.
    • Digital copy of the trial version for PC.
    • Your name in the credits.
    • Includes the $5 Reward.
  • $120 pledge – Toy Capsules “I should buy one.”
    • One of four random figures: Ryo, Shenhua, Chai or the Forklift. ( Actual figures may differ from the concept images).
    • Includes the $100 Reward.
  • $160 pledge – Bonus Pack
    • Backer-only Advanced Technique Scroll (In-game Item)
    • 20 Capsule Toy Tickets (In-game Item).
    • MP3 download of the original soundtrack with unreleased tracks.
    • Digital artbook filled with unreleased illustrations.
    • Shenmue 3 T-shirt.
    • Includes the $120 Reward.
  • $175 pledge – Printed Art Book
    • Printed artbook curated by Yu Suzuki.
    • Includes the $160 Reward.
  • $250 pledge – Kickstarter Collector’s Edition
    • Illustration.
    • Backer-only Arcane Technique Scroll (In-game Item).
    • Skin-change feature for Ryo’s Jacket (In-game Item).
    • Physical CD soundtrack.
    • Includes the $175 Reward.
  • $300 pledge – Signed Kickstarter Collector’s Edition
    • Illustration signed by Yu Suzuki.
    • Backer-only Arcane Technique Scroll (In-game Item).
    • Skin-change feature for Ryo’s Jacket (In-game Item).
    • Physical CD soundtrack.
    • Includes the $175 Reward.
  • $500 pledge – Toy Capsule Box Set “This is Cool!”
    • Get all four figures: Ryo, Shenhua, Chai and the Forklift.
    • Includes the $300 Reward.
  • $10,000 pledge – Ryo’s Jacket – The Original (Limited to one, already sold out)
    • The original jacket worn by Masaya Matsukaze for all of the Shenmue press events 14 years ago.
    • Special video message just for you by Yu Suzuki.
    • Named as a Special Sponsor in the credits.
    • Includes the $500 Reward.
  • $10,000 pledge – Dinner with Yu Suzuki + Script Set (Limited to three, already sold out)
    • Bring a friend to join a dinner party in Japan with Yu-san and the other backers of this tier. (Date will be tentatively set for September, 2016)
    • Original script set from Shenmue 1 and 2.
    • Named as a Special Sponsor in the credits.
    • Includes the $500 Reward.

As you can see, with the four, top-tier, ten-thousand dollar pledges already claimed, I think the sky is the limit for this campaign. Unfortunately, for PlayStation fans, there doesn’t seem to be a tier that has a physical copy of the PS4 version as a reward, so it looks like you’ll also have to fork over the $60 if you want a physical PS4 copy (and if you’ve been waiting fourteen years to play this game, it’s a small price to pay).

As a Yakuza fan, I will be backing this campaign and hoping it’s successful; if it’s a success, perhaps Sega will see that this is a viable funding model, and try Kickstarter for their Yakuza Franchise.

It’s not clear who will be publishing it, though I suspect Sega still owns the copyright and would have to be involved. I recall a couple of news articles a year or so ago that Sega had renewed the copyright on Shenmue (source), so it seems like it’s almost a given that they’d have to be onboard for Shenmue III to happen. Unfortunately, the Kickstarter page fails to mention anything about Sega, so I’m a little concerned that it may be a show-stopper if Sega does not approve.

So, Shenmue fans, here is your chance to make Shenmue III a reality. Hit the official Kickstarter page here to secure your rewards.

Are you a Shenmue fan? If so, let us know, and also let us know how much you’ve pledged in the comments!

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