Shenmue creator Yu Suzuki took to Kickstarter today in an attempt to address concerns about the budget and co-funding of his next project, Shenmue 3. While Suzuki doesn't provide too many specifics on the game's budget, he does say that Kickstarter-sourced "funds are going strictly to Ys Net for development of Shenmue 3 — Sony and Shibuya Productions are not seeing a cent of your Kickstarter dollars."
Suzuki also said that Kickstarter funding is just that: a start. Additional investment is coming in from "more traditional means," he said.
"Sony and Shibuya Productions have been wonderful partners because they believe in Shenmue and want to see the best for the fans and the game," Suzuki said in an update on the project's Kickstarter campaign. "Their investment in (and support of) Shenmue have helped to realize a sequel that will stand proud with its predecessors. While it is not business practice to discuss the specific details of such arrangements, I can say that with their assistance on the production and marketing end, and in Sony's case with some publishing support as well, Ys Net is able to use more of the money we collect through Kickstarter purely for Shenmue 3's development. It is also important to note that your funds are going strictly to Ys Net for development of Shenmue 3 — Sony and Shibuya Productions are not seeing a cent of your Kickstarter dollars."
Shenmue 3's original funding goal on Kickstarter was just $2 million, a fraction of the budget of the first two games for Dreamcast and Xbox. Suzuki and his team reached their initial fundraising goal in less than a day, and later said that to make Shenmue 3 a truly open-world game would require $10 million in crowdfunding.
Additional features are being added as stretch goals, which Suzuki attempted to clarify further today.
"On top of everything Shenmue 3 will already bring, the Stretch Goals that I have laid out will add extra quests, events, and new gameplay systems that will make the game even more immersive and take the series to the next level," he said. "At the $5 million mark, there will be an all new gameplay feature I would be excited to be able to add to the Shenmue legacy. If we should make the $10 million Stretch Goal, a much larger, completely open world will be yours to explore.
"Even if these Stretch Goals are not reached, Shenmue 3 will already be a sequel true to its name, and one we can all be proud of. It is my hope though, that together we can make this Shenmue just as revolutionary as the first two were."
We still don't know how much Sony and Suzuki's other investors are kicking in, precisely how much Shenmue backers will get for their money or how the third game in the series will compare to its forebears. But Suzuki pledges to be more open with the Shenmue community going forward.
As of today, Shenmue 3 has raised more than $3.6 million from more than 45,000 backers on Kickstarter. For more on the long-awaited sequel and Suzuki's ambitions, read Polygon's interview with the veteran game developer.