'Shenmue 3' Shatters Kickstarter Record With $6.3 Million Funding: The Secret Behind Its Success


When Sega sank, the third installment of the open world action-adventure game Shenmue seemed lost with the tanking titan.

Shenmue writer and producer Yu Suzuki, however, pitched a revival of the series directly to gamers, and video game enthusiasts responded by making Shenmue 3 the most funded Kickstarter game ever.

Shenmue 3 raised $6.3 million in pledges on Kickstarter, unceremoniously dethroning Castlevania's spiritual successor Bloodstained as the most funded Kickstarter video game campaign. Backers pledged more than $5.5 million to see Bloodstained developed and distributed.

Shenmue 3 got off to a fast start, earning $2 million in support just hours into its Kickstarter campaign. That fast money was thanks to its launch pad: the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3).

The game, which will launch on PlayStation 4 and PC, was revealed in primetime at E3 during Sony's press conference last month. Suzuki's YS Net was originally seeking $2 million in crowdfunding, but fans eager for the next chapter in the story filled the company's coffers in short order.

"We can unfold the continuous story," said Suzuki at the time. "Shenmue 3 will be the story you have waited for. The fate of Shenmue is in your hands now."

Unlike other kickstarter darlings, such as Megaman descendant Mighty No. 9 and Bloodstained, both sprite-based sidescrollers, Shenmue and its 3D graphics, open world and branching narrative have all of the components of a "AAA," big budget, game—the original games required tens of millions in investment. As such, Suzuki has had to explain that Shenmue 3 won't rely solely on the pile of wallets and purses consumers have thrown at it.

Sony and Shibuya Production have partnered with Suzuki's YS Net to bring Shenmue to market, according to Suzuki.

"While it is not business practice to discuss the specific details of such arrangements, I can say that with their assistance on the production and marketing end, and in Sony's case with some publishing support as well, Ys Net is able to use more of the money we collect through Kickstarter purely for Shenmue 3's development," said Suzuki.

Suzuki stressed that every cent of the crowdsourced funds will go into the development of the game.

"Sony and Shibuya Productions are not seeing a cent of your Kickstarter dollars," said Suzuki.

Shenmue 3 is expected to launch in late 2017 on PC and PlayStation 4. With the amount of support and the YS Net's ambitions, gamers should be hearing a lot about this game over the next few years.

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