Shenmue 3 needs $10 million to "truly have the features of an open world"

Shenmue 3 concept

The Shenmue 3 Kickstarter nailed its $2 million goal in less than 12 hours, thanks in no small part to the fact that it was announced on the stage during Sony's E3 press conference. It came to light shortly thereafter that Sony is contributing, too—it is "definitely a partner in this game" and development is "going to be run through third-party production." And now that $2 million Kickstarter goal is starting to sound a little dubious as well.

In a Reddit AMA that took place on Sunday, Shenmue creator Yu Suzuki very strongly hinted that $2 million really wouldn't be enough to fund any kind of proper Shenmue game. "If we reach the $5 mil mark, one of the things I really want to do with Shenmue 3 will become a reality," he said, when asked what the game will be missing if it falls short of that stretch goal. "At $10 million, it will truly have the features of an open world."

That's not entirely surprising—recall that the original Shenmue cost $47 million—nor is it too much of a practical concern, since the Kickstarter is now over $3.5 million, with almost a full month left in the campaign. But it does come off as a little strange: one of the biggest companies in the business, using one of the biggest stages in the business, to announce a Kickstarter with a goal that's nowhere near what's actually required to get the job done.

On Twitter, co-producer Cedric Biscay of Shibuya Productions said that Sony is not benefiting from the campaign. "Sony will not get any money from the KS, they will help to finance the PS4 version and will also help for advertisement," he wrote. "Sony is providing various supports, including marketing and investment, to YSNet. However, Sony is just one of many backers of Shenmue3." He also directed followers to the Kickstarter FAQ, which states flat-out that "we cannot make an open world game for $2 million." Instead, it says the plan is to bolster the Kickstarter with "other funding sources already secured," but the nature of those sources—like, say, who they are—won't be disclosed because of contractual obligations.

That's actually not too far off the initial crowdfunding plan for Star Citizen, which began as an effort to attract interest (and money) from "traditional investors." But Star Citizen hadn't secured those sources prior to the launch of its campaign, nor did it state, or even imply, that its initial goal would be sufficient to get the job done. In fact, Chris Roberts said in 2012 that Star Citizen would be a whopping expensive project, well beyond its initial funding target; Sony and Ys Net, on the other hand, have thus far been anything but transparent.

"I really can't get into [details about only financial sources], but there are other sources of funding that will be put together with the Kickstarter," Suzuki told Polygon. "I can't get into specifics, but for right now I just want to keep the comment that yes, I have funding sources outside Kickstarter that I collected through my company YS Net, and that will combine with the Kickstarter for this project."

The Shenmue 3 Kickstarter runs until July 17, and looks to have a good shot at surpassing Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night as the biggest videogame Kickstarter ever. Bloodstained recently finished with $5.5 million dollars in backing, a little more than half of what Suzuki said is required to make a proper Shenmue 3.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.