Various members of the Sega and Yakuza localization staff are holding a Reddit AMA today, and everyone had questions regarding Sega's favorite action adventure series about Japanese mobsters. However, Yakuza hasn't always had such an easy time in the west, with several games in the franchise missing out on localization. One such game is Ishin, which Sega's Sam Mullen explains had a quite complicated and multifaceted" situation at Sega.
"Ishin is a very large and complicated game from a localization perspective, one. Two, there just has been no where to slot it for release to ensure the game gets the attention and exposure it needs without posing a risk to itself and other franchise titles," responded Mullen.
Yakuza Ishin is a 2014 spinoff of the main Yakuza franchise which is set in the historic Bakumatsu period of Japan. The game was released for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 in Japan, but never came out in other territories. The Yakuza franchise has always been considered more a niche series outside of Japan which makes it hard to gauge consumer interest in North America. It also sounds like there were a lot of complexities in the localization process as well which makes sense considering Ishin would have had a lot of historical Japanese to localize. It also doesn't sound like Yakuza Ishin will get a localization anytime soon, not with Yakuza 6 on the horizon.
However, the Sega AMA team also reveals that the recent Yakuza game releases are part of a "soft-reboot" for the franchise abroad. "When we restarted our whole Yakuza approach coming off the end of [Yakuza 5], one of the overarching goal was to get to bring the English releases of [Yakuza 0], Kiwami, and [Yakuza 6] as close to the Japanese releases as possible," wrote Mullen. "This means that we have had a very aggressive production and release schedule, as you guys might have noticed."
To put Mullen's comments into perspective, Yakuza 5 was localized three years after the game first came out in Japan; Yakuza 0 was localized two years after the Japanese release, coming to the west in earlier this year in 2017. This same year also saw the release of Yakuza Kiwami just last month and Yakuza 6 will arrive localized in 2018. For all intents and purposes, the Yakuza franchise is going through a kind of resurgence currently and the Sega AMA team makes clear that this is part of a new effort to draw in new fans. They even point to Sega's Yakuza resources like the Yakuza Experience page with character bios, timeline, and comics.
So if you want more Yakuza games you'll still probably have to do what Yakuza fans in the west have always said to one another in order to get more Yakuza games, which is to say: buy more Yakuza games.
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