When Yakuza was first released in Japan under the title of Ryu ga Gotoku in 2005, the gaming industry was a very different place. The PlayStation 2 was so far ahead in terms of install base that nothing else could really compete, but technology allowed publishers to put their game basically anywhere if there was a will and support. While its identity is now primarily tied to the PlayStation, having been long exclusive to Sony systems until a recent PC release and a disastrous Wii U HD remaster, Yakuza was almost a multi-platform series.
In an interview with U.K.-based gaming magazine EDGE, Sega chief creative office Toshihiro Nagoshi talked about the genesis of the title. When Nagoshi first pitched the game to Sega executives, who were ailing after the Dreamcast and were cornered into a merger with arcade company Sammy, Sega said no to the idea. Nagoshi put aside proper channels and tried to talk to his bosses’ bosses at Sammy, who told him to go ahead with it.
Nagoshi now says that doing this was both irregular and wrong and he kind of understands why Sega refused the idea in the fist place.
“…I abandoned the idea of selling worldwide,” Nagoshi told EDGE. “Next, I decided I wouldn’t mind if female players didn’t like the game; then that no children were allowed. When I decided all that, the only target left was the Japanese male.”
That narrow scope also lead to Nintendo and Microsoft shaking their heads when the game was brought to them, both companies deciding not to allow Yakuza to be published on their platforms. Sony, however, happily agreed, and the series went on to become a major seller in Japan. It’s also become a critical darling in the west after more than a few missteps getting there, with Yakuza 0 and Yakuza 6 being praised for their storytelling and action.
Sony’s willingness to take a chance on the game when no one else would endeared Nagoshi to the company, which is why he has primarily kept the series to PlayStation systems. Former Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata negotiated a port of the first two Yakuza games to the Wii U, but it sold so badly that the Yakuza studio does not believe the series could ever succeed on Nintendo systems. They are open to considering the Xbox in the future.
Yakuza Kiwami 2, however, releases exclusively on the PlayStation 4 on August 28.
[Source: EDGE via Resetera]
The story had been video game legend for a long time, like the infamous Resident Evil 4 Microsoft meeting, so it’s actually really interesting to see it put down on paper. As the series is getting big in the west, I imagine Nagoshi’s loyalty is probably starting to give way to bigger opportunities, as evidenced by the PC ports of Yakuza 0 and Yakuza Kiwami.