A day after informing IGN that Yakuza 3 was coming to the U.S. with content cuts, Sega offered more explanation. [UPDATED with further comment from Sega to Kotaku, describing the pros and cons the company faced.]
On Sega's official blog, a community manager for the company said that, without the cuts, the game wouldn't have been released.
"Ultimately, the choice that had to be made was either no Yakuza 3 in the west, or a version of the game that was almost exactly the same, but with a little less trivia."
The Western edition of the PlayStation 3 story-driven action game will not include visits to hostess clubs and Japanese trivia games. These elements might be alien to American life, but as our own Japan-based Brian Ashcraft recently pointed out, these are some of the very trappings that have helped make the Yakuza series feel like an authentic virtual visit to the seedier side of real-world Tokyo.
During a demo for the game in December, Kotaku had been told, that the game was apparently being brought to the U.S. without content cuts.
But yesterday brought news of some trims. Today, a Sega community manager posting under the name RubyEclipse, provided this explanation on Sega of America's official blog:
Ultimately, the choice that had to be made was either no Yakuza 3 in the west, or a version of the game that was almost exactly the same, but with a little less trivia. That said, our teams also understand that many of you guys love games like Yakuza because of that experience, and rest assured that we'll continue fighting on your behalf to make sure that going forward, we can provide as close to the full experience as possible – no matter how foreign.
Even so, Yakuza 3 is still a game packed to the brim with things to do, places to see, and people to fight – offering a massive amount of options for fans of the series and new players alike. In addition, the western versions of the game will come pre-packaged with codes for the DLC, already localized and ready to be enjoyed. With gameplay that you truly won't find anywhere else, we think that Yakuza 3 is genuinely one of the PS3's best titles, and we hope you'll think so too when you play it.
This explanation raises the question as to why the trivia and hostess clubs would make-or-break the release of the game in the U.S. Was that a Sega standard? A ratings standard?
Fans of the Yakzua series in the West have criticized Sega for dubbing the original game in the series and lauded the company's apparent shift with the subtitled Yakuza 3 to a more authentic-to-Japan approach. Online, fans appear to be angry. Whether this decision affects whether the game can sell big will be seen next month when Yakuza 3 is finally released in the U.S.
UPDATE: A Sega PR rep e-mailed Kotaku the following statement:
Regarding Yakuza 3, we had a tight schedule to abide by for localizing and releasing Yakuza 3 in the west. Due to the limited time we were given we had to leave certain bits of the game out and we chose portions we felt didn't resonate with western culture i.e. a Japanese history quiz show and the concept of hostess clubs. We understand that this is not the optimum thing to do, but given the options of releasing the next chapter of a beloved game so that our fans can experience the story of Yakuza vs. not releasing it at all, we felt it was worth it to release it with 99% of the content intact. We made sure that the story in no way, shape or form changed from the lack of the quiz show or hostess clubs. You can still go into Cabarets and on dates with the ladies in the game and Kazuma still kicks major ass.
Yakuza 3 was released a year ago in Japan this week, which makes Sega's comments about time pressures confusing. If Sega clarifies, we'll update this post.
What's up with Yakuza 3? [Official Sega Blog]