Yakuza Studio Head Talks Judgment After Drug Scandal: Character Swap Was “Right Decision”

Yakuza Studio Head Talks Judgment After Drug Scandal: Character Swap Was “Right Decision”

Yakuza Team discusses the challenges involved in Judgment's character swap and keeping the Western release date following the drug scandal.

In an interview with IGN about the upcoming Judgment, the Yakuza team spoke about the difficulties behind replacing actor Pierre Taki’s in-game likeness Kyohei Hamura, as well as how they managed to avoid delaying the Western release of the title. Yakuza Studio head Toshihiro Nagoshi stated that “We’ve already finished replacing it. It’s an original character this time, not a performance capture. You’ll have to wait to see what he looks like.”

Concerning the news of Taki’s arrest on cocaine charges dropping on March 12th: “I heard it on the news just like everyone else…Within 30 minutes I had suggested various options, and within an hour we had a firm plan [to replace the character]. By the following morning we had an estimate for the cost. There was an option to leave it as it was, but personally I felt strongly that changing the character was the right decision.” After that the team made the decision to suspend shipments of Judgment in Japan until the character had been replaced.

He then goes on to say that thanks to his team’s swift response, they were not only able to still launch the game in the West but also keep its same release date as well. “If we had debated the options for several days, we would have never been able to keep the same release date.”

Producer Kazuki Hosokawa went into further details on the process behind removing the previous character and inserting the brand new character into a game that had already been released for Japanese markets. “First of all we had to replace the character model and re-record all of the dialogue. But replacing the character model is only the start: We had to change all of the pre-rendered cut scenes Hamura appeared in; also, his face appears on some of the evidence that you present on your smartphone, so we had to replace those textures; and some trophies had to be changed too.”

Judgment will eventually go back on sale in Japan at an unspecified date, and will launch for the West on June 25th of this year.


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