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Bringing Yakuza To The West Is Still Tricky

[Image: Sega]
[Image: Sega]
Kotaku EastEast is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.

Sega’s Yakuza games are terrific. You really need to play them. Yet, they’re not always localized, and if they are, they arrive late. According to series mastermind Toshihiro Nagoshi, Sega is still trying to figure out how to appeal to Western gamers.


I’d say keep doing what you’re doing, but it’s not that simple, I guess. Via Famitsu, here’s Nagoshi: “As for Europe and America, it seems like fans have increased, but I wouldn’t say it’s become a good situation. It feels like we need to come up with a bit more of a plan on how to attract [American and European gamers].”

[Image: Famitsu]
[Image: Famitsu]

Famitsu asked if Sega was putting effort into taking Yakuza global to which Nagoshi replied, “Originally, because Yakuza was a game made for Japanese men, we cast aside the American and European markets as well as the rest of Asia.”

(Things are changing, though. Elsewhere in the interview, Nagoshi says that women now make up about 20 percent of the Yakuza fanbase in Japan. He also said that originally most players were in their 30s, but now the number of new players in their 20s is increasing.)

But as Nagoshi points out, since Yakuza has seen success elsewhere in Asia, perhaps, dependent on their approach, the game could do well worldwide.

“However, it doesn’t matter how good the game is, if players have no motive to buy it, then it won’t sell,” Nagoshi continued. “I think maybe gamers elsewhere in Asia are buying Yakuza for different reasons than players in Japan are. So, if we throughly analyse those motives, then it looks like there’s the possibility of it being successful abroad.”

Don’t expect the series to get a major overhaul, though. “Appeal too much to international players and Japanese players will say things like ‘The Yakuza I know and love is no more,’ which is what I want to avoid. So, the feeling that these games are made for Japanese men is unchanged.” Nagoshi added that straying from the core of Yakuza would be disrespectful to the series. Rather, it sounds like he wants to figure out a way to position the games in a way that will work outside Japan.


Maybe Sega is overthinking this? Just make more Yakuza games in which players can beat the crap out of convenience stores. If that doesn’t appeal to international folks, then nothing will and God save us all.

Kotaku East is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.

Originally from Texas, Ashcraft has called Osaka home since 2001. He has authored six books, including most recently, The Japanese Sake Bible.

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My stance on this is simple:

I *LOVE* the yakuza games. capital letters, in quotations, different font, what have you.

The reason i BUY these games are because of the way they are. I’m not looking for another sleeping dogs, gta or whatever else, i want the product that’s THERE.

My only “concern” about all of this is “does it come here, and if so, when? and will anything be cut?”

I’m looking forward to zero like a madman, even more than zelda (which i’m also a diehard fan of) and i cannot imagine the dissappointment if things were changed to “appeal to a western audience”.

I sincerely hope the creator and sega realizes that the fanbase is out there, but will only buy the game if it IS yakuza. It’s not about appealing to a different audience, because the audience will find it. What sega needs to do is promote it properly. All i remember from Y5 was a small thing at TGS and next to no marketing.

If they marketed it properly with trailers, building up some hype, have banners on websites and things like that, i guarantee it’d be more successfull.

I mean look at videogamedunkey who did a video on yakuza 3. 1+million views and alot of comments were “wow didn’t even know this series existed” and “never heard of before, but now i’m definetly getting it”.

Stay true, stay pure, get marketed.

Simple as that.