After 14 long years of waiting, Shenmue 3 finally got announced to the world during Sony’s E3 2015 Press Conference to PC and Playstation 4. However, this declaration came with a hefty condition: It would have to meet or surpass a $2 million on Kickstarter. This goal was less to help with development costs, as Sony has announced they’ll be helping with funding, but rather to gauge interest and to see if there are enough fans still interested to warrant a sequel.
Well, against the expectations I had (which was that it would struggle to hit that amount, if it even would at all), it hit $2 million within the first 24 hours. Currently, it is lurking near the $3 million mark at an incredible $2,947,106.
To outsiders who may not have played the game series before, like me, it may look strange for a game series to be revisited after so long. However after the large budget ($70 million, which according to Wikipedia works out at $99 million in 2014 adjusting for inflation) and disappointing sales, it is perhaps understandable why Sega has sat upon the license for all this time and why Sony is trying to gauge interest before offering funding.
While trying to gauge interest through how much money people are willing to throw at a game by larger companies may be seen as a terrible practice (especially if you consider Kickstarter are taking a cut of these pledges), in this particular scenario it may be justified.
To draw a comparison: I admit my favourite game series, Zero Escape, is currently resting in development hell after disappointing sales so it’d be tragic as a fan to have to wait another 11 years to get acknowledgement. Although considering 4infinity.co exists, that may be a bad comparison… Even if that looks to be more a revisiting of the Infinity series, the writer’s previous project, rather than a Zero Escape sequel.
If Shenmue 3 gets funded in the end, it is looking at a rough release date of December 2017. Although, to be fair, Kickstarter estimated release dates rarely get met.