By Bryan Smith on June 17, 2015 at 1:18pm
One of the biggest surprises of E3 was that "Shenmue III" was revealed, joining legendary titles "Final Fantasy VII Remake," "Fallout 4," and "The Last Guardian" to be shown at E3. Fans wept happy tears that "Shenmue III" was officially happening. Then came the fact that Yu Suzuki, director and producer for the "Shenmue" series, was taking to Kickstarter to fund the game. It appeared strange that Sony wasn't completely funding the game, which raised some big concerns. If big corporate companies are taking to Kickstarter, things could look grim in the future.
I, however, think that for a game like "Shenmue III," Kickstarter is probably one of the better choices to help make the game a reality. There's several smaller things that people might not see when looking at the project as a whole.
Most importantly, a big corporation has tried to do this before: Archie Comics. They tried to use Kictstarter for relaunches of Archie and his friends. That Kickstarter run immediately hit controversy, and Archie Comics took the project down. So if there were any other big companies who were to try Kickstarter despite having large amounts of money, they'd most likely be criticized from the get-go.
That leads to another concern: Sony isn't completely funding "Shenmue III." Instead, they'll help fund it. By that, I'm sure at this point that means Sony will fund the rest of the money going into the game. The initial $2 million was to gauge people's interest. Here's a hint - "Shenmue III" was funded in about nine hours of the announcement. In fact, Kickstarter was broken by the amount of people wanting to fund the game.
So why isn't Sony funding the game completely? Perhaps a look back at "Shenmue's" history should shed some light as why anyone would be hesitant to throw money at the game. The first two "Shenmue" games were critically acclaimed, but were financial disasters. Both games, along with the DreamCast games, couldn't save Sega from dropping out of the console business. Microsoft tried to revitalize "Shenmue" by porting "Shenmue II" to the first Xbox. That still didn't do anything for Sega in terms of sales. Sega has been so terrified to touch the game again, seeing that "Shenmue II" released on the Xbox in 2002/2003. They wanted to see money, and they haven't touched "Shenmue" since.
- This wouldn't be the first game for the PlayStation 4 to get bungled because of "behind the scene issues."
- They may be giving Yu Suzuki more control for the project.
Have we really forgotten that "Silent Hills" was a PlayStation 4 exclusive? Probably, because that fact got buried under the news that Konami cancelled the game following, as many have speculated, "power struggles" with Hideo Kojima. With a cancellation of a massive game, lord knows what happened to the money Sony and Konami struck deals with. Best case scenario is that Konami gave back most, if not all, funds as the game was nowhere near completion. Worst case scenario is that Konami spent too much already and Sony is operating at a loss from a game cancelled on them.
I'm not saying that "Shenmue III" stands in any relation to troubled production drama, but Sony may be thinking the deals made with other companies a bit more following Konami's ... management of "Silent Hills." Sega is notorious for suddenly caring about copyrights and often terrible management decisions. Again, I'm not saying Sega will, but it can happen, which Sony could be anticipating.
The other possibility, which is more beneficial to the consumers and developers, is that Yu Suzuki and Ys Net get to have more creative control without Sony dictating things that can and can't be in the game. Ys Net is the publisher listed (as of now), so Sony isn't making publishing decisions other than infusing money for "Shenmue III." In fact, "Shenmue III" is coming to PlayStation 4 and PC. This gives Yu Suzuki more control of how the game develops. After what he had to deal with trying to get the final chapters of "Shenmue" completed, I don't think he wants to hear any kind of executive meddling from looming publishers.
I don't see many downsides for Kickstarter for "Shenmue III" really. It's there for those who want the game to happen and fans made it clear that they want the game. I really doubt Sony is considering Kickstarter for anything in the future (though I hope this statement doesn't come back to bite me in the butt). The fact that "Shenmue III" is a reality is fantastic and I'm glad that Yu Suzuki can complete his saga.