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].”
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.
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