Years passed after the release of Shenmue 2, and despite wanting to create a sequel, it was only through Kickstarter that Yu Suzuki was able to achieve that goal. Speaking with Eurogamer, the producer revealed more details about the development of the game, including where the idea of Kickstarter came from and how will the team prioritize things based on the money gathered so far.
"After Shenmue 2 was released, within three years people were asking how I was going to do Shenmue 3," said Suzuki. "Ryan Payton [producer on Metal Gear Solid 4, and designer of Kickstarter success story Republique], he's a huge Shenmue fan. He told me if I used Kickstarter I could get the funding for Shenmue 3. It was one or two years after that when I started seriously looking into using Kickstarter - it was Ryan Payton, though, who gave me the original idea."
"Kickstarter's not the only source of money," he added. "There's also funding from Sony and Shibuya Productions. Before we started Kickstarter, we had goals set around the budget - so if we only got $6 million, we'd create Shenmue 3 based upon what we could do with that $6 million. We're still trying to gather funds. Obviously, the more money we have the more we can do. Even if we don't get as much budget as the previous games, we'll still make this game."
Regarding the budget to develop Shenmue 3, Suzuki states that graphics will be compromised in favour of story if that means that the team will be able to deliver a good game that fans will enjoy.
"I could do with a bit more money! The game itself doesn't have to be gorgeous visually - a lot of the money these days goes into the graphics. If we perhaps compromise on the graphics and put more into the story, we can make a good game. The most important thing, to me, is that the game's interesting, and that it's something people want to play."
Shenmue 3 won't be the end of Ryo's story, but Yu Suzuki says that it's still too early to talk about Shenmue 4. "Originally, as you know, there was going to be 11 chapters. It was only ever going to be two games. When we began development, the volume of the story was too big for one game. When we decided it was going to be two games, most of the story was already complete.
"To fit all of the rest of the 11 chapters into Shenmue 3, it could help the story progress, but it'd lose it's playability. Shenmue's a game, not a novel - if it loses its playability, it loses its purpose, so it's not the final part."
Shenmue 3 releases on PS4 and PC in late 2017.