A dispute between a publisher and talent agency over a Japanese celebrity's role in Yakuza spin-off Judgement may bring the series to sudden close.
On its reveal earlier this year, Sega hinted that this year's sequel, Lost Judgement, would be coming to Steam—before turning around to say it had no plans for a PC release (opens in new tab). That miscommunication seems to stem from Johnny's, the talent agency behind Takuya Kimura, who plays the role of series protagonist Takayuki Yagami.
Johnny's reportedly has strict policies regarding how images of its talent are distributed, which apparently extended to showing Kimura's likeness on PC. Sega, meanwhile, has been on a big PC push for some time, with the entire mainline Yakuza series (developed by Judgement developer Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio) now available on Steam.
According to Japanese outlet Nikkan Taishu (opens in new tab) (via Kotaku (opens in new tab)), the publisher and the talent agency haven't been able to come to an agreement. If they can't come to one, it's not just hopes for Judgement on PC that die—it may mean an end to the series entirely.
"Those on the side of the game developer and those on the side of Johnny’s are said to have been unable to reach an agreement regarding the platforms to sell the game," reads the Nikkan Taishu report.
One wrinkle in the story is that the first Judgement was available on PC via Google Stadia. But considering how reluctant Johnny's has been to adopt the internet (previously refusing to even publish press images of its talent online), it's possible the agency simply wasn't aware of how Stadia worked.
Nikkan Taishu's source also notes that this comes as disappointing news to Kimura himself. Himself a fan of the games, he seemed to relish playing the role of Yagami, and was "shocked" to hear that this may no longer be possible.
"He strongly wanted to continue the series, it seems, but he said he was quite disappointed when he heard that he might not be able to do that."
Our Andy Kelly made a strong case for Judgement coming to PC (opens in new tab), clamouring for its unique cop-thriller twist on the established Yakuza format. It's disappointing to hear that not only will we likely never see Judgement on PC, there may never be another case for Yagami to solve.
"More people deserve to play it, and Yakuza fans who don't own a console are missing out on one of the best games in the series (that isn't officially in the series). And with the news that Yakuza is sticking with Like a Dragon's turn-based combat, the Judgment games might be the last bastion for Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio's traditional (and superior) real-time street brawls."