Shenmue III will miss its initial release date and is now slated for sometime in the second half of 2018.
In a video message to Kickstarter Backers, series director Yu Suzuki stated that while development of the game is going just fine, “new technologies” have allowed the team to “discover new possibilities and expressions.” Evidently these new possibilities, whatever they are, require a delay on Shenmue III’s release.
The message begins with a bow to the camera, and then Suzuki wasting no time in getting to the bad news. “I know you are all eagerly awaiting the release of Shenmue III, however, we unfortunately must delay its release.”
“By utilizing new technologies we have been able to discover new possibilities and expressions. In many ways the game has become bigger and more beautiful than I initially expected. We do, however, need more time to deliver the game to you.”
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Shenmue III was initially to be delivered in December of 2017 after the most successful video game Kickstarter campaign in history. Backed by eager fans to the tune of $6.3 million, the game was not only the largest crowdfunded video game ever, but was also the first crowdfunding campaign to be announced at an E3. Two years ago crowds went wild during Sony’s 2015 conference, with Shenmue III taking up a s
ignificant portion of Sony’s stage time.
“In order to achieve the game concept you supported and my sixteen year-long personal dream,” Suzuki continued, “we have revised the development schedule. We are moving ahead with a plan to release the game in the second half of 2018. Details will be revealed in the backer report later this month.”
While the amount received by Kickstarter backers is substantial, it’s still a fraction of the amount needed to develop a modern AAA game. The total budget for Shenmue III remains shrouded in mystery, with Sony pitching in an undisclosed amount, and other corporate investors involved as well. The opacity surrounding the game’s funding has alarmed some in the industry, especially considering the first Shenmue and its sequel were not commercial successes.
The original Shenmue was well received by critics and received a cult following from players for its slower pace and bizarre attention to inconsequential details. Playing Shenmue was like a stately stroll in the park, mildly interrupted by brawls and quick time events.
Despite selling 1.2 million copies, Shenmue never recouped its development costs. Shenmue II was developed for a much smaller price, however being sold at the end of the Sega Dreamcast’s life meant that sales were muted.
With the first two in the series being business flops, perhaps this explains the developer’s reluctance to release any details regarding Shenmue III’s funding? Regardless, eager fans will have to wait a bit longer before being able to walk the streets of Hong Kong once again.