Sega: Yakuza 3 Cuts Were Necessary For Western Release [UPDATE]

Illustration for article titled Sega: Yakuza 3 Cuts Were Necessary For Western Release [UPDATE]

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.]

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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."

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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]

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DISCUSSION

TheSadClown
Nightshift Nurse

Reposting my reply to the other article:

Thanks for the heavily edited and now somewhat pointless release of Yakuza 3. The timing of the announcement and the speed of the localization always had me suspicious that Yakuza 3 was little more than an apology for the overall cruddiness of Bayonetta’s PlayStation 3 port. These newly announced cuts all but confirm that theory.

Quick tip Sega: THIS SERIES WILL NEVER RESONATE WITH MAINSTREAM AUDIENCES. At least not by making cuts that your average consumer would never be aware of in the first place. Maybe if you tried…oh, I don’t know…actually advertising the game. You know, that thing you never did with Yakuza 2…and instead chose to blame the fans for not stepping up (when the game was released so quietly that many weren’t even aware it had happened). Oh, and pricing the game at a more realistic $40 might help bring a few more people into the fold as well.

But no, instead you choose the lazy, disastrous route of removing much of the game’s quirky appeal and cultural relevancy. And in doing so you’ve only succeeded in alienating the people who were intending to purchase this game in the first place. And for what? Casual gamers whose purchasing dollars you still won’t get? An angry hardcore fan base that would’ve been more than willing to play Bayonetta for another month or two while you translate everything in Yakuza 3?

As someone that’s lived in Japan, I can say the biggest appeal Yakuza has always had for me is the "mini vacation" it offers with its uncanny accuracy regarding certain elements of the culture. For anyone else, the game still offers a wonderful glimpse into portions of Japanese culture that one might have difficulty discovering otherwise. Get out of this early nineties mentality that an American audience’s brain will melt the moment they’re confronted with something "too foreign". It was insulting then, and in this age of Katamaris, Phoenix Wrights, and two previously released, uncut Yakuza titles it’s just ridiculous, needless, and infuriating.

But expecting well thought out decisions from Sega is clearly to much anymore. For over a decade all you’ve proven able to do time and again is make dumb choices and awful Sonic games. Perhaps once the hate mail piles up you’ll finally pull your head out of your *** and offer the omissions as DLC. Until then you owe us a complete game.

P.S.: Oh, and genius move with your Resonance of Fate release date. Let us know how launching a week after Final Fantasy 13 works out for you.

Morons.

To add to the above (which was originally posted on Sega's own Yakuza forums along with all the other hate mail), I don't buy Sega's explanation for a second. Not when the localization screams "apology", not when they're basically tanking the release by launching it on March 9th, not when they know damn well that nearly all of the people buying this game are hardcore devotees of the franchise.

With this one, monumentally bad decision Sega has likely jeopardized at least half of their potential sales.

I know that for me this has gone from day one purchase to "whenever it hits the bargain bins". Which given how badly Sega's screwed the pooch on this one, will likely be about five to six weeks after launch.