The story of Shenmue is a complicated one. It was the most expensive video game ever produced when it was released for the Sega Dreamcast in 1999, with a production cost at the time of $47 million. SEGA pinned its hopes and dreams on this project, and its sequel, Shenmue II, coasted on the development budget of its predecessor and released just a year later.
Despite being a groundbreaking game, incorporating lots of roleplaying and simulation elements considered standard features of RPG’s today but novel then, the Shenmue line didn’t live up to its investment promise and never made back that money.
Today, however, Shenmue III is sailing completely different waters. Shenmue’s original creator Yu Suzuki joined Sega in 1983, and it’s his own Ys Net that’s raised over $7.17 million from 81,078 backers. Modern development techniques and tools means a lot more Shenmue can be made for a lot less money.
Still, the amount Shenmue III raised is staggering. Ys Net set their original Kickstarter goal at $2 million and blew past that goal like it was standing still. The initial campaign in 2015 saw 69,320 backers pledge over $6.3 million. The rest of the money came from a three month “slacker backer” period through PayPal, which we now know resulted in around 12,000 latecomers pledging an extra $800,000 — taking the grand total across all campaigns to $7,179, 510.
“Quite an impressive score, isn’t it!? Seeing the final numbers, all of us here can’t help but feel all over again the immensity of the support everyone has given to make this project come true,” commented Ys Net in a Kickstarter update.
The game has been in development since the staggering victory in 2015, and apparently that money hasn’t been all burned up yet. Suzuki has decided to use that money and put it back into the game, pushing the release date back to make the game even better.
“There are now less than 10 months left until the release date on August 27, 2019. Everyone on the team is giving it all they got every day in the run-up to the release, and we hope we can continue to count on your support.”
That very specific release date suggests that Ys Net isn’t just wandering around in open fields on this. They have a very specific destination in mind.
What fans of the game have loved about Shenmue from the beginning was the richness of the gameplay experience and the depth of the storytelling. There are just nine more months to go before we get to see the newest installment in the series. The game will be released for Playstation 4 and Windows.