Why Don't We Have Yakuza 5 Yet? The Fans Want to Know
The Yakuza series is a monster of a franchise in Japan, but the series is woefully neglected in the West. Yakuza 5, boasting the combined size of all of the previous games combined and a brand new engine, has yet to see even a hint of a localization outside of Japan despite the game being released in the region in December.
What gives, Sega?
Look, we all know there are some aspects of the Yakuza 5 that wouldn't go over well here at the moment--specifically the hostess dating. The massive amount of braid tie-ins the game is packed with would be difficult to bring over, and localization itself would be a huge undertaking -- But Western Yakuza fans want to know where the series goes next, dammit!
I want to saunter the streets with the suave Shun Akiyama, handle inter-clan politics with Kazuma Kiryu, rough some guys up with Taiga Saejima, feed Tatsuo Shinada's gambling habit, and finally be able to play as the girl Kazuma has been trying to protect all this time: Haruka Sawamura. More Majima!
A part of me can't help but feel it's not fair to not get the next chapter in this amazing series, though it is too soon to give up hope. It took almost two years for Sega to announce the localization for Yakuza 2, and almost a year for 3. Even if we see some side-content cut, I can't help but feel like that would be better than never seeing a localization.
If Yakuza 5 does not see a Western release, we will probably not see another game in the series translated.
It's the sad truth. The series as it stands is fueled by fans and the odd Western gamer willing to give a Japanese action sandbox a try. The fanbase is by no means huge, and the particularly xenophobic stance of the average modern gamer (on both sides of the ocean) means interest and potential sales are generally low.
The Yakuza series is one of the biggest budget series in Japan, and the games sell well over there. It wouldn't be a viable investment to localize the fifth game without a significant marketing budget to pull in additional interest. The question is whether or not Sega would be willing or able to afford that type of gamble.
The games industry relies on brand recognition more than anything else these days. Were Yakuza 5 to be skipped over for a localization, the brand would essentially be dead in the West.
What's more, is that the game is a milestone in the series. It's far larger than anything seen in the Yakuza games to date, with five distinct locations and five playable characters. Skipping out on what is the biggest and the most technologically advanced game in the series means Sega has given up on the Western audience for this type of game.
Some type of acknowledgement - any kind - from Sega would be nice. If we're not going to see Yakuza 5 make it over here, at least let us know. If there's some hope, please, please at least let the fans of the Yakuza series know it hasn't been put down on the English-speaking side of the world.