Sega has released its annual integrated report for 2020, including the lifetime sales of its game series, and the Yakuza (opens in new tab) series has cracked 14 million copies sold across all titles. Compared to its series total sales stats of 11 million total copies from 2018, the year that Yakuza 6 released in the west, and 12 million in 2019. This means that over 20% of Yakuza's lifetime sales have come from the last two years, entirely out of proportion to the series' 15-year lifetime, though not out of proportion to the number of games released. It's a big turnaround for a series that was widely considered to be declining in popularity relative to the growth of the industry.
Sega credits the turnaround to the game's niche appeal and dedication to portraying Japanese culture. Its depiction of culture, specifically, was previously considered too niche to thrive with Western audiences, but has recently become a major selling point of the series. The annual integrated report specifically notes that Yakuza is "highly evaluated by overseas users," as is the Persona (opens in new tab) series. It's part of the larger spread of "Made in Japan" content by Sega finding a home in foreign countries.
That said, the report also notes that Yakuza are niche games targeting a niche market. Specifically the series' business model moving forward relies on releasing the game to multiple platforms and across multiple services, relying on the ubiquity of digital distribution to reach the targeted niche across the world rather than just a handful of countries. The PC is specifically mentioned as a key vector for this strategy.
The Yakuza series has been pretty beloved by the Staff of PC Gamer in the last few years, despite and because of its quirks and flaws. The latest game, Yakuza: Like a Dragon, was a changeup that our Andy Kelly said "doubles down on the series' RPG elements." You can read his full Yakuza 7 review here. (opens in new tab) Here's hoping that Sega's acknowledgement here translates to Yakuza 3, 4, and 5 coming to PC. (opens in new tab)