Times are changing for the Yakuza franchise. Now that Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio has achieved worldwide success with the series and its spin-off franchise Judgment, the team is looking to the future. In an interview with TheGamer, Lost Judgment director Kazuki Hosokawa revealed future Yakuza games may even leave Japan behind and take their characters to new countries.
The Yakuza franchise has become incredibly successful over the past year. The release of Yakuza: Like a Dragon last year helped the franchise to sell over 14 million units over its lifetime and there has been renewed interest in bringing some of the older titles to the west, like Yakuza Kenzan and Ishin. However, the franchise is changing. Not only will future instalments be turn-based RPGs like Yakuza: Like a Dragon, there’s a chance they will move away from a Japanese setting. This means its characters will travel to new countries, explore different locations, uncover more mysteries and battle opponents that may be associated with different criminal gangs.
Hosokawa also reiterated the studio will target simultaneous worldwide releases for its games moving forward. The upcoming Lost Judgment will get a worldwide release on September 24 and will continue the third-person brawler gameplay format for which the Yakuza franchise was once known. The director had wanted to create a new IP while working on Yakuza and after a few false starts, Judgment was the result:
For the past six of seven years I’ve just been working on Yakuza, and had always been thinking about wanting to create a new IP. There were definitely a lot of ideas that weren’t greenlit, but one of the ideas that actually made it to launch was Judgment. There weren’t many uncertainties in my mind about fans not accepting something different, it was more of a mindset of really wanting to create something new, because I want to present an experience to players that is totally different from Yakuza. There’s a lot of limitations, because the framework is based on Yakuza, so it’s not an entirely separate universe, but I’m so happy I was able to realize this and create something.
Interestingly the future of the Judgment franchise was not mentioned; rumors of a dispute between publisher SEGA and actor Takuya Kimura’s talent agency Johnny’s had suggested the new franchise could end after Lost Judgment is released. If we weren’t to get a new Judgment game, it would be quite a shame for Hosokawa.