Shenmue III has been pushed back again. The game was initially scheduled to launch in 2017, but last summer creator/director Yu Suzuki announced on Kickstarter that more time was needed to finish the game. The release was pushed to the second half of 2018. Now Ys Net and publisher Deep Silver have decided that the game will be delayed until sometime in 2019.
“The extra time will be used to polish the quality of the game even further, to the high standards it deserves and release the product in the best possible timeframe,” reads the announcement on Kickstarter.
While possibly waiting until as late as 4Q 2019 will be agonizing for fans that have been waiting 17 years for the sequel, push backs to ensure quality are welcome in any game.
The franchise broke ground in 1999 with its open-world sandbox — something never before seen in a 3D video game. Today, open-world is practically a genre, so getting the long-awaited sequel right is the number one priority.
When Shenmue released, it was amazing. It was the sole reason that I bought a Dreamcast — something I swore I would never do after being burned by the Sega Saturn’s quick demise.
It was well received, and yet considered a commercial failure because of its high production costs. It received a followup in 2001 despite those losses. However, this was due mainly to parts of Shenmue II being produced in conjunction with the original game.
The sequel was also praised by critics and fans, but it too was deemed a commercial failure. The problem was that Sony was killing Sega in the console wars and the Dreamcast just didn’t have the user base to make the game successful. Fans of the series clamored for a third installment even though the prospects of seeing one were unlikely.
So when fans heard Yu Suzuki was bringing another chapter to Ryo Hazuki’s story, interest and hype spun up quickly. However, this is 2018 — 2019 by the time we see the game. The things that made Shenmue unique 20 years ago — open-world environments, mini-games, day/night cycle, NPCs that go about their business — are par for the course today.
The next chapter has to be even more engaging than the originals if it is to compete with games like Red Dead Redemption 2, Rage 2, or any of a slew of other open-world titles slated for release between now and then. Shenmue III has to exceed players' expectations if it is to be a success. Therefore, the delay is not just acceptable; it is almost expected.
If what fans get is Shenmue Rebooted, players will surely be underwhelmed.