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    February 24, 2010

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    Maybe they could appeal to Jappophiles and furries at the same time, and remake the hostess bar ladies as Rouge the Bat and Amy the Hedgehog. I bet there's even a place just like that somewhere in Real Japan, too.

    I have a theory I call 'planning to fail', and I'm still trying to find a better, more pithy, more 'bizspeak' catchphrase for that.

    the concept is simple. For whatever reason a company decides that they don't want to do something, or they have a mindset that goes against what someone (the head of the company, the customers, someone) and in order to 'prove' that doing what is wanted can't work, they sabotage while making public efforts, and the result is what is desired, failure, which gives the cover to say in the future "but we tried that and it flopped!"

    (this then goes to the trend of Japanese companies using outdated playbooks when trying to get some of that huge American money they want see also Bandai)

    So what do we see in planned failure here? Sega says "we don't want to bring games like this to America/ the outside western world, but we have to feed the pipeline with something" so they cut and trim and reduce the experience, and as you say, put it out at the WORST POSSIBLE time.

    Results? "Sales were far below projections, so clearly there is no market for this kind of thing, we won't release Yakuza 4 in the west, and anything else with a Japan-centric theme"

    Now, mind, I'm not a gamer, so this doesn't affect me, but it bothers me on general principles. I can understand the history trivia being cut, but I'd think the hostess clubs would be a SELLING POINT, ya know?

    I'll make a little side bet, altho it's probably no bet at all. The transliteration, the dubbing will be insane horrible.

    Bottom line: Sega doesn't WANT to sell this outside of Japan, they feel forced to do so and are doing all they can to have the release fail so they can say 'told you so'. Idiots.

    Yakuza 1 was planned as a big release a few years back: it was dubbed Manga Video UK "FUCK AND PISS" style and, because both games are gangster stories set in big, open worlds, sold to the Grand Theft Auto demographic. The American games mainstream didn't really care, so Yakuza was doomed to be a niche product from there on in. From 2 on, the games have been left undubbed for cash reasons.

    So that's one kinda-good thing that comes from failure.

    I agree that the cuts would not have outright destroyed the game by themselves, contrary to many angry fanboys' opinion. But the suicide release date seems to be the final nail in the Yakuza series coffin, with the whole content-cutting debacle serving as a redundant coup de grace. It's like it's Ryu ga gotoku's destiny/doom to not do well in NA, which is one of the biggest shames in recent gaming history because it's just a great series, even without taking into account its Japanophile appeal.

    Completely uncut and not dubbed (likely an unintentionally merciful choice, as you mentioned), Yakuza 2's release was done "right" in almost every respect and the game itself was lauded as being improved over its predecessor, which was still a decent game. Yet it didn't sell well IIRC. It might have been the timing, as it came out in the stretched-out twilight years of the PS2 (before the PS3 "got games"). But it makes me wonder if, even if Sega did everything "right," the Ryu ga gotoku series could ever do well in America. It's the story of a badass guy doing badass things in a badass way, so I'm not sure why it hasn't "resonated" with American gamers who thrive on that stuff. Maybe Kiryuu needs a bazooka and Haruka needs to be the moe poster girl or something. Or maybe it is indeed "too Japanese" aka the "bad" kind of foreign; no moe magic girls, but lots of Japanese-looking Japanese guys, weird Japanese humor, and mahjong.

    On the bright side, I hear it's more popular in Europe for whatever reason, and Y3's release in the West may add some reinforcement to the oft-disputed fact that the PS3 indeed does have (some) games.

    And yeah, I don't think even VF5R will ever be released here. With the encouragement of some inside guy the guys at vf.com have a petition for a console release, but I have a sinking feeling it's in vain, especially when Sega has not even planned on releasing it in Japan as far as I know.

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