Shenmue 3 was revealed at the Sony PlayStation 4 E3 2015 press conference seemingly as an independent project, with Yu Suzuki personally stepping in, telling the audience and the world that it was them who could make the title a possibility by funding the game as an independent project on Kickstarter.
However, the rather unsettling truth has come up front that Sony actually has an undisclosed budget for the game that wasn’t revealed to the public. In fact, Sony depicted Shenmue 3 as a gesture of good-will on their show, making it appear like a crowd-funded independent Kickstarter game.
“Sony and PlayStation is definitely a partner in this game, and it’s going to be run through third-party production. We’re going to help Ys Net get the game done, we’re going to be partners on it the whole way, and really excited to see this thing come out in a couple of years”.
The above are the words of Sony director of third-party relations Gio Corsi. The whole idea of the Kickstarter project, according to him, was to test how committed the players were to the development of Shenmue 3.
“We said ‘the only way this is gonna happen is if the fans speak up. We thought Kickstarter was the perfect place to do this. We set a goal of two million dollars, and if the fans come in and back it, then absolutely we’re going to make this a reality.”
It seems rather strangely fitting that all this has been revealed only once Shenmue managed to surpass its $2 million target on Kickstarter.
Shenmue 3’s Kickstarter page doesn’t list any external partners at all, and the implication is largely that of an independent project, much like the way it was shown at the E3 conference.
The lack of transparency in this entire saga is worrying, and there is a possibility that a large set of people who have cared enough to invest in the project may feel cheated on.
The issue in this matter could be cooled down if Sony were to disclose their budget for the game to be a small percentage of the total requirement, as the very fact that backers of the game were used as ‘test subjects’ means that many will feel exploited by the lack of transparency.
Kickstarter is supposed to be for developers with no other funding sources, but Sony has taken advantage of that general belief and used it as an advantageous business strategy for a game they were going to back in the first place. At least they should’ve worked with transparency and made the situation clear from the start.