The first Yakuza game was released all the way back in 2006, and the branding was most recently used in 2020's Yakuza: Like A Dragon. Across eight main releases and a number of spin-offs, the name became synonymous with sharp suits, hour-long cutscenes, and bikes being smashed into dude’s faces. But as Sega gets ready to welcome in a whole new generation of games in the series, it’s also choosing this moment to say goodbye to the name.
You may have noticed that the new games announced earlier this week, from historical spin-offs to modern spin-offs to the ninth entry in the main series, all had something in common: Sega called them all ‘Like a Dragon’, while we still called them ‘Yakuza.’ This was partly because old habits are hard to break, but also because we know that just as we still call them Yakuza games, so do most of you (I even refer to the Judgment games as Yakuza titles, just because it helps).
I contacted Sega today to clarify this, though, and their answer was clear: the Yakuza name is no more. For these three games, and for every new title in the series going forwards, they’ll all carry the ‘Like a Dragon’ branding instead, so that they, as I was told, “more closely align with the Japanese name.”
Japanese players will probably wonder what the big deal is, because in the series’ homeland both the games themselves, and the development studio behind them have always been called Ryū ga Gotoku/龍が如, which in English means...Like a Dragon. So in Japan there’ll be no need for change, it’s just Western releases that will carry new branding.
As you can now see, Yakuza 7's full title in the West—Yakuza: Like a Dragon—was actually a bit of a mess, but like the game itself seemed at the time, it was also the perfect way to say goodbye to the old Yakuza name, while easing us all into a Like a Dragon future.
So goodbye, Yakuza, and thanks for all the memories. You were certainly shorter, snappier and more fun to say than Like a Dragon.