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The Unromantic Side of HostessGate: What about the actual game?

February 23, 2011

Yakuza 3 suffered severe fan backlash with content being cut due to deadlines that had to be met at the time

Outside of politics, you will find no other debate as polarizing as the video game industry and it’s coverage largely through the many fans of the Online Video Game Community of each particular company, of each particular console, of each particular developer and when you throw podcasts and blogs in the mix, things get interesting pretty quickly. News spreads like wild fire, some games are hyped to an unprencedented level even if there’s little to go on about it and sometimes when a publisher makes a decision about the game, which most of the times, is largely done because of commercials reasons, the fan feedback and backlash for most of the time, actually becomes far more important than the actual game.

Let me be clear, I don’t think that the outrage over the Hostess Bars getting cut or the terrible 5-minute photoshop rush-job cover for the Western version are uncalled for, they were very questionable decisions and Sega should be held accountable as a provider of services and goods, but the impression I got over the outrage that was vented through the confort of PHP-construted and Apache-hosted message boards is that it became the main driving force that worked against the game and it’s intended sales targets.

The fact that it was a crime drama, with some very impressive graphics(I was completely blown away when I saw that preview footage in 2008), it was essentially Shenmue in HD, and like I said before, it was one of the most impressive PS3 titles of 2008. And after two PS2 entries that did had a somewhat lukewarm reception in the Western countries(Yakuza 2 was released as  a budget title late in the game), so for many years, people were acking at the thought of Yakuza 3 getting a western release.


The average Internet user would say something like this: "I am angry. Sega didn't include the brothel simulator in Yakuza 3!"

None of that didn’t really matter, because when Sega announced that Yakuza 3 would lose some of it’s content, the video game press and the online gaming community when discussing the forthcoming title simply shifted the conversation, essentially stonewalling and stifling  game’s real strenghts  and any criticial and thoughtful debate that would arise from analysis. It shifted to just focusing their rage over the loss of a game feature that was largely irrelevant in the greater context of the game.

I choose not to question the motives for the outrage, while there are valid grounds for creative censorship and excluding certain aspects of japanese culture, since the whole point of Yakuza 3 is to have a taste of said japanese lifestyle, it’s odd to me that gamers who know about japanese games coming to the West, had been largely accustomed for years for content from japanese games that had been either cut or completely changed due to dubbing and translation dillemmas. Sega, for example, in 2001, had completely buried a homosexual character in Shenmue 2 (guess which one?) and much of Ren Wun Ying’s X-rated dialogue had been heavily toned down by translation (I’m not making this up, read the article on ShenmueDojo). The stonewalling of a homosexual character might have caused Sega to step on many toes, but since the Internet  in 2001 didn’t have the size and scope that it has today, these controversial chances went largely unnoticed, or if someone did notice, it never affected the general audience’s perception of Shenmue 2, which was praised overall.

But in all honesty, some good did come out of the fan outcry as Sega this time has decided to take a more careful approach with Yakuza 4. Hopefully, if Sega has learnt it’s lesson, Yakuza 4 will likely get more attention this way, since the very complaint from the previous experience has now been fully nullified.

Or at least, one hopes so…


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