The existence of Shenmue III (via Kickstarter) was revealed to unanimous applause at SONY’s E3 2015 press conference last month, but while many have gotten caught up in the hype, they have failed to realize the negative implications that this move has.

First and foremost; since when was E3 the place to announce your Kickstarter? E3 is for exciting game reveals; projects that have already been funded, as well as updates and new details on games we already know about. E3 is not the place for begging, and that’s essentially what a Kickstarter is.

I struggle to even agree with the nature of a Kickstarter in the first place. I get that many studios require funding in order to realize their ambitions, but would it not be the same principle if I were to ask you guys to fund my new opinion piece? You complain about people living off of benefits but when developers ask for money as opposed to earning it, is that not the same principle? Alas, that is the nature of a Kickstarter and I’ll choose to live with that for now. What I can’t abide by is encouraging that process by advertising a Kickstarter at a huge expo like E3.

That’s not to mention how unfair this whole activity is on other development studios. Isn’t the point of a Kickstarter that anyone can have their project funded? But when the big studios start to exploit this, won’t the small ones peter out? All of a sudden, I get the sense that developers will be asking for money that they want rather than what they need. What chance does a small Kickstarter have if all the money is being invested into a project which will end up being published by a huge name like SONY? Could SONY not have funded the project itself as opposed to having the arrogance to promote the money-grabbing scheme in its own briefing?

Ultimately, having a Kickstarter for a fully fledged game like this, and having it announced on as big a stage as E3 just doesn’t seem right.

A few fellow editors at Gamespresso have suggested that this Kickstarter is worth doing in order to test the waters; to see if people will be interested, in other words. I understand that sometimes developers and publishers need to be given that motivation to move forward with a project – I mean it’s essentially market research which is necessary for these businesses – but I feel like that could have been achieved with a simple fan survey as opposed to a plea for cash. Heck, given the reception that Shenmue III received, was it not blatantly obvious that fans were longing for it anyway? Shenmue II was released in 2001, after all.

Screenshot 2015-07-09 at 20.23.24

Here’s how the figures are looking for the Kickstarter at the time of writing.

You can claim that the game needs the funding all you like, but to me something smells fishy about the ethics of this whole situation. Were it to be a one-off then I’d accept it and move on, but to show off a Kickstarter of a game at E3 – a huge game no less – has me concerned that this sort of thing is going to become a trend. Make no mistake, other publishers will have recognized how successful the Kickstarter has been and will follow suit.

If you’re one to complain about pre-order bonuses, unfinished games and the like, do me a favor by choosing not to back a Kickstarter of Shenmue III’s ilk.

  • wally

    Spare your tears.

  • Nonscpo

    “E3 is for exciting game reveals; projects that have already been funded, as well as updates and new details on games we already know about. E3 is not the place for begging, and that’s essentially what a Kickstarter is”…No E3 is about presenting people with a game that will always look better than what it will be when it is released, E3 is about hype and eventual disappointment, so what’s wrong with venturing into new territory and giving the fans what they actually want?

    “You complain about people living off of benefits but when developers ask for money as opposed to earning it”…The money generated from the Kickstarter goes to the game development, it’s not suppose to go in there pocket. Besides game developments isn’t cheap, so if the developer tries to skim off the top in any way shape or form, it will be noticeable with the end project.

    “I understand that sometimes developers and publishers need to be given that motivation to move forward with a project – I mean it’s essentially market research which is necessary for these businesses – but I feel like that could have been achieved with a simple fan survey as opposed to a plea for cash”…Anybody can put there name on a poll, but how many of the people posting there support will actually pay up when the day comes? Kickstarter is a much better way to determine that, as people are literally pledging money towards the project.

  • Dieu

    I don’t want be too harsh Steve but this is a mediocre article. Try to give a better solution than kickstarter to Yu Suzuki. Why do you think Shenmue 3 has never been released over all these years ? Shenmue licence does not even belong to Sony.

  • Josh Shep

    This article is a little harsh, Ys Net are not receiving any funds from Sony for the development of the game. They are helping with production and advertisement of the game though. I am very happy I’ve pledged to kickstarter I have reserved my game and the fans can also get some really good rewards as collectors.

  • Daniele Andreuzzi

    You wrote a very long article (that makes no sense to me) and you didn’t even discuss your title’s statement: how is this going to damage other kickstarters?

    • Upper Dave

      Exactly! If anything it increases traffic to Kickstarter, which means more backing for other projects. I love the idea of Kickstarter for old forgotten IPs of any status. It’s pre-ordering a game you want to get made and speaking with your wallet.

  • James Walker

    Another scaremongering article that ignores the facts.

    “But when the big studios start to exploit this, won’t the small ones peter out?”

    Since when is YSnet a big studio? It has been confirmed repeatedly that Sony aren’t seeing a penny of the Kickstarter cash.

    “I get that many studios require funding in order to realize their ambitions, but would it not be the same principle if I were to ask you guys to fund my new opinion piece?”

    Millions of dollars are needed to create a game that fans have been waiting a decade and a half for, and it’s the fans who choose to contribute. If you have enough fans who are willing to contribute towards coffee and Pot Noodles for you to publish your two cents, then fair play to you. But no, it’s not the same.

    “If you’re one to complain about pre-order bonuses, unfinished games and the like, do me a favor by choosing not to back a Kickstarter of Shenmue III’s ilk.”

    Do your readers a favour, by not belittling them. If they want to contribute to a Kickstarter, that’s their choice. By all means, you are entitled to have your opinions and choose whether or not to back a project, but so is everyone else. Don’t tell people not to, and give poorly researched reasons.

  • Bill Krall

    If nobody wanted the game then the Kickstarter wouldn’t work and those that backed it would be refunded. So, no harm done. To say though, that the small companies would be hurt by this is a stretch. If they have a truly original idea or compelling idea for a game and can express that to game fans then their idea will be able to use Kickstarter just as well. You’re basically just mad about the stage it was presented on, but that doesn’t matter to the 50,000 + fans that were just happy to hear they had a chance to see their favorite game continue. So, of course they funded it, and some are still hoping to fund it way past the Kickstarter date ends. Shenmue was already proven as a great game to its fans and Yu Suzuki is already proven so it was a no-brainer. Not every big company is going to have a game that people will care for so vehemently.

  • Upper Dave

    Fuck other kickstarters. There is only one Shenmue 3, and it does not share power with anyone.

  • Brian Dub

    You have a stupid idea of what E3 is supposed to be pal. I’ll back what ever Kickstarter fund I want. Deal with it.

  • Matt Bullen

    Kickstarter isn’t begging! And its nothing like benefits. What a terrible analogy. There is the REWARDS system. For 60 dollars you get the game. How is that any different then pre-ordering???
    It’s hardly giving your money for no return is it.
    At the end of the day the fans want the game. We are willing to fund development and will get the game with the money we have funded.
    Another bias article.

  • Alana Fearnall

    Although I disagree with everything stated in this article, one thing really popped out to me.

    “I struggle to even agree with the nature of a Kickstarter in the first
    place. I get that many studios require funding in order to realize their
    ambitions, but would it not be the same principle if I were to ask you
    guys to fund my new opinion piece? You complain about people living off
    of benefits but when developers ask for money as opposed to earning it,
    is that not the same principle?”

    If you do not agree with the nature of the Kickstarter at all, then to claim that Shenmue III will be poison to Kickstarter is quite odd. Comparing your piece of work, which is simply telling someone an opinion, to getting an actual game, is a horrible example. I can secure a copy of Shemue III for $29 USD(which is cheaper then most AAA titles on release now), thats a good price and it helps the developers out now rather then as a reward later.

    Kickstarter is a crowd funding platform, not a place to beg for money. It allows people to say ‘Hey, give me XX amount of dollars, and I’ll give you Y product by Z date.’ its an investment into a company – but you are getting a product pay out rather then stocks, or being involved in the business decisions.

    I also will mention that I disagree that E3 is not the place for Shenmue III to be announced. E3 is for investors and journalists, not for everyday gamers. Journalists who attend in person to the event are treated with demos, potential interviews, and a way on reporting on upcoming games. Potential investors are given looks into the hardware and software side of companies, where they are coming along in development, and who they think they should put their cash into.

    Kickstarter is an investing platform for the common folk.

  • Jordan

    Ysnet is not a big studio. In fact, it falls very much in line with the definition of an indie studio. You’re argument is frivolous, and the simple fact that I just stated debunks it totally.

  • Kevin Backman

    I like that Sony allowed Yu Suzuki the stage to announce it. Perhaps others will follow this but keep in mind fans have been asking for this title for 14 years. Even for just releasing the story as a book even that seemed hopeless until now. The funding is all going to development and Sony will not see a dime as it is now confirmed. I say fuel the fire and let it happen. Encourage people to donate now before its too late.

  • Kevin Backman

    People have been waiting and asking for 14 years for this game with almost no hope and the wish is finally true. It’s big and means a lot to people. Donate if you can. If this gets past the gaming kickstarter record perhaps a partner company might notice and could also help the rest of the funding. All the kickstarter funds go to just he development stages. I say donate while you can before its too late.

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