[dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]he Kickstarter for Shenmue 3 launched with an absolutely massive bang when it was announced during Sony’s E3 press conference. With hundreds of thousands tuned in, thousands immediately rushed to back the campaign without even a glance at the funding video or page description. There was no need — this is Shenmue 3, after all! Shortly after launch, and successful funding to the tune of $2 million, a handful of sites began publishing articles questioning Sony’s involvement in the whole thing. Was this game going to be made regardless? Were fans backing a sizeable check to Sony instead of Ys Net and Yu Suzuki’s work? In the end, the truth was far tamer than some articles suggested, and the campaign trucked onward.
I was someone who immediately jumped in with Shenmue 3 because it was exactly the kind of campaign which I needed to be a part of. Sure, my enjoyment of the Shenmue series didn’t reach the feverish levels of many, but I still was extremely excited to see it finally continue. But, as the campaign wore on, it was hard to maintain that same level of excitement. No, I wasn’t particularly swayed by articles coming out on big sites. They all seemed to be saying much the same thing and it wasn’t a big deal in my mind regardless of what was going on with the business side of things. What got me to start questioning my position as a backer was when we continued to see a real lack of news coming out of the campaign.
Many questions were asked early on, such as simple things like the potential for PayPal funding. After all, not everyone can back through Kickstarter even if they’d love to. With the campaign all but over they never provided a response. More so than that, they never really explained so many aspects which are apparently key to the experience. What are these exciting new gameplay aspects promised and given names such as the “Rapport System?” Well, we know the most basic level concept but very little in depth for any aspect of Shenmue 3. Fans want to know more! I know that the game is seriously at the earliest stages of development, but providing some framework to funders is just smart when running a project.
In another show of campaign mismanagement, a new prototype video was published during this last week of the Kickstarter. Now, considering how early on they are with the game, it makes sense that this video looks rough and ultimately boring. With that said, I do not believe fans were screaming to see footage of the game right now, either. What I’ve noticed is a desire to just hear more about this world, its gameplay, the minigames, and other “core” aspects. Certainly cinematography and cutscenes will play a role, but is that really how you spend what is likely a big chunk of your time in the last week of the campaign instead of answering more pressing questions? As it stands, it’s just marginally better than the original, brief Shenmue 3 clip of Ryo in the pitch video. Their time could have been better spent in ways other than producing a quick scene that is unlikely to entice new backers (though it may please existing backers).
There is no way to predict how Shenmue 3 will be handled once the Kickstarter ends. It could be that the management behind the campaign shall shape up and do the work required of them without issue. But that is often not the case even for projects which had nearly flawless Kickstarter presentation. My fear is that the management woes and inability to address topics actually important to backers will continue. This does not mean the game will be delayed or anything of that nature in and of itself, but I just feel it will be a ride peppered with unenjoyable stops along the way. At least, if this track record continues. I want to back Shenmue 3. I desperately want that physical PS4 copy. But, I still don’t know if I desire it enough to contribute despite all my hangups about how the campaign was handled.