After years and years of speculation and the lead ons by the gaming media and even Yu Suzuki. He believes that Sega will eventually let him make the title and the millions of Shenmue fans around the world hold the same hope. But with the recent earthquake, tsunami and other disasters currently holding gaming development in Japan hostage, could Shenmue 3 finally be dead?
The Japanese natural disasters of the recent past are nothing to be taken lightly and the people of Japan could probably care less about Shenmue coming out at this point and they rightfully shouldn't. But the future of Japanese gaming for at least the near future if not more remains in dire straits. The industry for the most part, save Nintendo and some divisions of Sony as well as a few other places like Sega, has relocated to America. EA, Activision and pretty much all of the other large, third party gaming corporations have based their operations in the conservative America, where it is less likely they will be regulated as they probably would in Japan.
And now that portion of the competition may likely fall behind even more. The people across the Pacific are rightfully taking care of their safety and well being prior to restoring whatever industry has been lost. Much of the country has been devastated and the track to normal life hasn't been interrupted like this in decades. But what will happen once everything gets back on track? And more specifically is there any chance for Shenmue 3 to see the light of day?
For those uninitiated, Shenmue and its sequel, the aptly titled Shenmue 2, were about an Asian fellow who apparently only liked looking for sailors based on what I've seen. But the sequel cost an astounding $47 million and while it formed a cult following, couldn't sell nearly enough units to be able to break even much less make a profit. The third game, which would encapsulate some of the chapters that its creator has been meaning to show, has been rumored off and on for years and is "flatlined" according to IGN.
And with these disasters, the industry has shut down for the time being with games being delayed and canceled as the country regroups. By the time everything is back under way, new IPs will be developing and the pushed back ideas will have their time in the sun as well. Only the best of the best will be able to make it through that time period. There could possibly be a boom in the quality of games and franchises that emerge from Japanese gaming companies once they've recovered just because of the glut of games waiting, like Shenmue, to see store shelves.
But if Shenmue 3 has been waiting this long, nearly a decade at this point, why would Sega finally greenlight it once other IPs have been pushed back and other games will likely be squeezed out? The answer: there's no reason to. If it couldn't pass the test in a normal market, there's no chance in this economy with the country in ruin both socially and economically that a game like Shenmue 3 would be released. There's no reason to believe that the budget could be kept as low or that the game would somehow strike the note that would finally resonate with the audience that its cult following feel it deserves.
Quality games that have more of a chance than Shenmue will be pushed together, squeezing out more risky and niche titles like Shenmue 3. Companies are going to have to sell some proven games to make money and take chances on other game ideas and properties that stand a better chance of reaching a mass audience. There's no basis for the belief that Shenmue 3 could accomplish any of those goals.
I hate to say it, but this looks like it could finally be the nail in the coffin that Shenmue 3 fans have been dreading. With a glut of games likely to come from this, there may be a quality boom coming out of the Japanese gaming industry, but Shenmue 3 won't be a part of it.