Shenmue 3 soars past $2 million Kickstarter goal hours after launch

The next installment of the classic Sega video game has already attracted more than 32,900 backers and raised $2.5 million with 31 days left in its crowdfunding campaign.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
3 min read

Shenmue 3 will be made, now that it has exceeded its $2 million goal. Yu Suzuki

Fans of the old Sega Dreamcast who want to know if Ryo Hazuki will ever settle the score with Lan Di have voted with their wallets to see another Shenmue game.

The Shenmue 3 Kickstarter campaign surpassed its goal of $2 million just hours after launching. The campaign kicked off at 6:51 p.m. PT Monday during the Sony PlayStation keynote address at the Electronic Entertainment Expo. The game exceeded its goal early Tuesday morning and currently has more than 32,900 backers who have donated more than $2.5 million.

Shenmue is one of the most talked-about series in gaming history. It was created by famed developer Yu Suzuki and brought to the ill-fated Sega Dreamcast in 1999. The game was first envisioned as a multi-part epic detailing the life of protagonist Ryo Hazuki. The first title, which delivered a compelling storyline as Hazuki tried to avenge his father's death at the hands of antagonist Lan Di, was popular with gamers. Shenmue 2, a follow-up to the original game, launched on the Dreamcast in 2001 and Xbox in 2002, but was not nearly as popular as its predecessor.

Sega, which published both titles, decided to shelve the franchise, even though the second game never provided an end to the storyline. Over the last 14 years, gamers around the world have used petitions, fan sites and social media to call for a continuation of the Shenmue franchise. Each time, Sega rebuffed their overtures, focusing instead on other software properties, like Sonic.

Sony shocked video game fans during its E3 keynote on Monday when it announced that the Shenmue series was alive and would come to the company's PlayStation 4 console. Yu Suzuki then came on stage to officially launch the Kickstarter campaign for the game.

Here are all the exclusive Playstation 4 games Sony just showed (pictures)

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Interestingly, Sega has handed over the rights to the Shenmue franchise to Suzuki and his team and will not have a role in the game's development. In a statement on the Kickstarter page, Suzuki said his team needs the $2 million to press forward with the game's development.

"If we do not reach our funding goal, Shenmue 3 will not go forward," he wrote on the Kickstarter page.

With the $2 million now secured, Suzuki, his team, and perhaps even fans, have their sights set on stretch goals. By exceeding $2.5 million, gamers can now expect Shenmue 1 and 2 "cinema shorts" in addition to Shenmue 3. More cash will allow the developers to support subtitles in German, French and Spanish, among others. If the campaign reaches $4 million, the developers promise expanded mini-games within the title. The campaign has ample time to reach the goals: it won't end until July 17.

Now that Shenmue has reached its funding goal, developers can get down to the business of actually producing the game. If all goes well and development doesn't hit a snag, Suzuki and his team plan to launch Shenmue 3 in December 2017. The game will be available on the PC in addition to the PlayStation 4.

"The story continues as Ryo and Shenhua start off on a new journey that will take them farther into enemy territory, deeper into mystery, and ever closer to their destiny," details on the Shenmue 3 storyline read on Kickstarter. "Will the mystery of the mirrors be revealed? How is Ryo's father connected to all of this? Will Ryo track down the Chi You Men cartel and face Lan Di in a final showdown?"

It may take a few years, but fans of Shenmue can finally look forward to some answers.