Lost Judgment Director Kazuki Hosokawa has stated in an interview that future Yakuza games may take place outside of Japan.
In a roundtable interview with The Gamer, Hosokawa talked about the future of Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio. While hoping to continue with worldwide launches for titles, along with possibly (in The Gamer’s words) “exploring games in the Yakuza series that leave Japan behind, taking characters to new countries with new locations to explore, battles to fight, and mysteries to uncover.”
The Gamer explains how “Much like Tales of Arise, Japan is now looking towards the wider world with a solid understanding of why its games are so appealing. People love Yakuza for how it depicts iconic Japanese landscapes and has an understanding of its culture, all told from a touching, melodramatic perspective.”
Yakuza has tried new things before. This includes the non-canon Yakuza: Dead Souls using zombies, and using the Yakuza formula for Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise. Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio had also made Binary Domain, a third person shooter that utilized voice recognition to give orders to your allies.
During The Gamer interview, it was noted Dead Souls (Hosokawa’s directorial debut) was a critical and commercial failure in the west. It did have moderate success in Japan however. Nonetheless, it was three years until Yakuza 5 launched in Japan; while prior games until that point had come every two years or less. Western fans begging for a port resulted in a western launch in 2015, exploding in popularity.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon also took a surprising turn being an RPG, and being a mainline entry in the series- titled Like a Dragon 7: Whereabouts of Light and Darkness in Japan. The game also marked the first time the series had used English dub since the original release of Yakuza (2005).
Hosokawa explained that while he had been working on the series he had wanted to create a new IP. One of these ideas eventually manifested as Judgement. While sharing obvious links with the Yakuza series, Hosokawa wanted to give fans a new experience.
“There weren’t many uncertainties in my mind about fans not accepting something different, it was more of a mindset of really wanting to create something new, because I want to present an experience to players that is totally different from Yakuza. There’s a lot of limitations, because the framework is based on Yakuza, so it’s not an entirely separate universe, but I’m so happy I was able to realize this and create something.”
Games created Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio may be seeing a shake-up in the future for another reason. Chinese internet technology and video game company NetEase are reportedly looking to poach Sega’s Yakuza creator Toshihiro Nagoshi.
Should the Yakuza series go international? Should new experiences and stories still take place in Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio’s own backyard? Sound off in the comments below!