Yakuza 3: Turning Un-Japanese and Chasing Away Its Fans

Much to the chagrin of those who have been looking forward to it, word has gotten out that there are certain elements of the decidedly Japanese SEGA title Yakuza 3 that, well, won’t be so Japanese when the title reaches Western shores.

Speaking to IGN yesterday, SEGA said “The content between Yakuza 3 US/UK and Yakuza JP is a little different in that we took out certain bits in order to bring the game to the west in the time alloted for us to do so.”

“The parts we ended up taking out were parts that we felt wouldn’t make sense (like a Japanese history quiz game) or wouldn’t resonate as much (such as the concept of a hostess club). We didn’t replace the parts we took out, but we made absolutely sure that the story continuity stayed intact so that the story experience was the same as the Japanese version and that it didn’t take away the human drama so inherent to the Yakuza series.”

IGN notes that you can still go on dates with the girls, and the strip clubs are still in. Even so, fans who had plans for getting the game upon its release are quite displeased.

One person’s comments which were retweeted to me went so far as to say “Oh boy, Yakuza 3 has a bunch of elements deemed “too Japanese” removed. It’s great here in 1993: I’ll go dig up my Color Me Badd cassettes.”

Indeed, with a name like “Yakuza,” one certainly expects a Japanese flavor to the game. However, SEGA has seen fit to explain themselves on the changes made to the title.

From the SEGA America Blog:

Today’s blog is a little different than most for us, but it’s something that our community teams are very passionate about, and we want to make sure gets out there.

While it’s already been rumored in a couple places, we wanted to confirm that there is some content in the Japanese version of Yakuza 3 that didn’t make it over to upcoming Western version, mostly involving the Hostess Clubs and the Japanese History trivia sections. At the same time, we also want to explain part of the reasoning behind that, and be up front with you guys, our fans, about that fact.

Ultimately, the choice that had to be made was either no Yakuza 3 in the west, or a version of the game that was almost exactly the same, but with a little less trivia. That said, our teams also understand that many of you guys love games like Yakuza because of that experience, and rest assured that we’ll continue fighting on your behalf to make sure that going forward, we can provide as close to the full experience as possible – no matter how foreign.

Even so, Yakuza 3 is still a game packed to the brim with things to do, places to see, and people to fight – offering a massive amount of options for fans of the series and new players alike. In addition, the western versions of the game will come pre-packaged with codes for the DLC, already localized and ready to be enjoyed. With gameplay that you truly won’t find anywhere else, we think that Yakuza 3 is genuinely one of the PS3’s best titles, and we hope you’ll think so too when you play it.

As Yakuza 3 nears ship, we’ll have lots more on the massive amount of things to do, see, and experience in the game – and truly, you’re in for one awesome ride. Until then!

Despite this statement (which really doesn’t explain why they had to cut it in order to ensure a Western release), however, fans have responded to the blog with a strict “not interested in a censored version” stance. They seem less interested in the Japanese history quizzes, and are more upset about the removal of the hostess bars (big surprise).

Kotaku has also posted a lengthy argument in favor of retaining the hostess bars. Meanwhile, Destructoid recalls having a similar experience to what SEGA is providing while in Japan.

One comment to the SEGA America Blog argues “How about, less trivia, no hostess bar and rumoured no mah-jong or shogi? Isn’t that what you’re giving us? With all these cuts, shouldn’t there also be a price cut? Why should Canadians have to drop $69.99+tax on an incomplete product? Steam has shown that discounts boost sales, so there would likely be more people to buy it to compensate for the price reduction.”

And several others have said that if they buy it at all, it will be when the price is reduced. In fact, I can’t even recall the last time I saw this many posts on their blog, save for maybe those who needed to in order for SEGA to show off pieces of Sonic 4.

Add in those voicing their displeasure on other sites, and that would be a lot of upset fans.

Things will likely get worse as a result of this; SEGA finally caves and brings the game to the West, but then fans who don’t approve of the cuts don’t buy it. The game underperforms, and further discourages SEGA from bringing any potential future installments over, despite causing the under-performance themselves.

Of course, there are also those who will say this is typical SEGA.