The Yakuza series has pretty much always been associated with PlayStation platforms. After its debut on PS2, it then moved to PSP and PS3, and finally to PS4. An HD version of the first two games briefly landed on the Wii U, but it was an unmitigated disaster.
Apparently, though, things could have been different if only Microsoft or Nintendo had actually wanted the original game, as Executive Toshihiro Nagoshi told Edge magazine in an interview.
“I’ve never said this before, but while we released this game with Sony, I’d done presentations about it to Microsoft and Nintendo. Back then they said “No we don’t want it.” Now they say, “We want it!” (laughs) They didn’t understand the reason why I created it.”
Nagoshi-san also explained how the series ended up having a very specific Japanese male target, and shared the difficulties he encountered to get the concept greenlit by Sega.
“It became difficult for Japanese companies to compete with western games of high quality and big budgets (…) if we wanted to do, it would have to be sports, or military, or fantasy (…)and it would need to release worldwide. (…) since everyone was thinking the same things, everyone was making similar games (laughs).
But I thought it wasn’t right to follow that direction. So, first, I abandoned the idea of selling worldwide. Next, I decided I wouldn’t mind if female players didn’t like the game; then that no children were allowed. When I decided all that, the only target left was the japanese male.”
“My bosses took some convincing. I did a presentation twice, and didn’t get approval. (…)
Sega was struggling for cash and was very close to bankruptcy, so it merged with Sammy. As soon as it happened, I went to see the new owner and presented the game to him, looking for his approval. Professionally, this was highly irregular and quite wrong. But I knew if the owner said “yes”, it would be good for the entire company. (…)
I got his approval, but our CEO was really mad about it (laughs). He said it was unfair.”
He also gave an interesting tidbit of information on his sources of inspiration:
“I’m often asked how I did all the research, but it’s Japanese culture (…) but I did some of my own, yes. I like drinking. I also like women. I was having lots of fun in my life for a long time – whether to shake off my stress from work, or deepen the connection with my subordinates. (…) I learned a lot of interesting stories from the people I met. And some surprising stories, and some sad ones. They became elements of Yakuza’s story. The name Kiryu is one of them (…). I often do that in my games – I use the name of a person I liked or who looked after me well. I still do that today.”
“It will still be quite hardcore at the beginning, but I want the player to think “Oh this game seems really interesting” – that’s what I’m aiming for this time. That goes for the technology too, though I don’t want to say more as it will spoil the fun. By introducing new and more current systems, I’d like to increase the number of players. And if I do that, I can re-introduce Kiryu-san to some new fans. That would be ideal.”
If you’re unfamiliar with the series, you can read our review of its latest release, Yakuza 6: The Song of Life. If you like it, you can grab a copy on Amazon. If you already have the last chapter of Kazuma Kiryu’s Adventures, you can pre-order the upcoming Yakuza Kiwami 2, which is releasing on August 28th.