The Kickstarter for Shenmue 3, by series-creator Yu Suzuki, has just broken $3.5 million. This means that the “skill trees” flex goal has been reached, and bumps the game up to the sixth highest-funded video game ever on Kickstarter – with 26 days remaining. As the Inquisitr has previously noted, the last game in the series came out over 14 years ago.
Shenmue, for those not in the know, was originally released in 1999 for the Sega Dreamcast, where it was met with critical acclaim and has continued to accrue accolades including Best Game of All Time from German magazine M! Games in 2013 in an online poll. While in some ways a classic Japanese RPG, Shenmue took several almost unprecedented steps for the time, featuring an open world, non-linear gameplay, fully-voiced non-player-characters (NPCs) and numerous real-world mechanics. While the gameplay would seem rather dated today, for its time it was revolutionary.
As Kotaku notes, the game cost $47 million to make, putting it ahead of many modern-day AAA titles, and it showed. Shenmue, and its sequel Shenmue II(which missed the Dreamcast in North America and ended up being released on XBox), garnered a massive following. Unfortunately for fans, Shenmue 3 was announced and then cancelled at least twice in the subsequent decade, including a fan-driven campaign for the game’s release which caused Sega of America president Simon Jeffrey to state unequivocally that the game was not in development, although he noted that it was one of the most fan-requested games in Sega’s lineup. Sega West president Mike Hayes later said, “While at present we have no plans for the franchise [on next-gen consoles]…the Shenmue legacy ignites a lot of passion among fans. Never say never.”
From 2012 onward, Suzuki has been attempting to secure the rights to Shenmue and crowdsource funds for the game, and in mid-2014 announced that he was researching Kickstarter. It wasn’t until June 15, 2015 that the Kickstarter for Shenmue 3 was announced, with a funding goal of $2 million – and in the following six days saw a stratospheric rise that blew the goal right away.
Sony pitched in to help raise awareness, announcing the Kickstarter for Shenmue 3 at an E3 press conference, and Suzuki has secured the rights from Sega.
Game Informer interviewed Yu Suzuki, who was extremely excited to finally have Shenmue 3 on the way and expressed his shock at the response, even knowing how interested fans were.
“The thing that really surprised me first about the Kickstarter was the crash that happened. Kickstarter broke – that was a big surprise. I couldn’t believe that! The second one was how fast it went to $1 million. Apparently, it is the fastest game or entertainment project on Kickstarter to reach that number.”
[Screenshot courtesy of Kickstarter/Ys Net]