The world of gaming is a very pretentious and sophisticated one, with a lot of ego battles taking place. Private game developers are on a constant controversy with giant companies that try to take over the gaming markets and buy precious masterminds to develop new game concepts.
Shenmue 3 is supposed to be an important sequel in the Shenmue series and the controversy was stirred by rumors regarding a potential investment by Sony. The project was fully funded on Kickstarter, to the enthusiasm of fans who are more willing to offer money from their pockets for an independent production rather than a mass market product.
Yu Suzuki, the creator of the Shenmue series, declared that he’s been putting in many long years to find a way to bring back a sequel eagerly awaited by so many fans. The Kickstarter idea immediately kicked in and the dream could come true. He simply wanted to offer to its public the best game possible, by finding traditional means to obtain all the funds needed to create the game he envisioned.
Every story has a twist, and this is exactly what happened in the Shenmue 3 case, where the internet has been spreading rumors in regards to a potential Sony investment that would have killed all the indie halo Shenmue 2 was surrounded by. But rumors remain rumors and most of the times they are far from the truth. Such is the case with the Sony investment in the Shenmue 3 release.
Trust rates have decreased on Kickstarter ever since the controversy took shape. The rate of funding on Kickstarter dropped considerably, as misleading information has appeared.
Sony will indeed play a part in the Shenmue 3 project, but it won’t be a main one, as it will only help with promotion, marketing and sales strategies. Shenmue 3 creator explains the partnership with Sony, apologizing for the misunderstandings and explaining how Sony and Shibuya Productions are both involved. Sony will help with some publishing on top of the marketing and sales strategy but the terms of the partnership are still uncertain.
However, the controversy sheds some light on very delicate aspects related to the transparency of game developers that release public requests for funding although they may benefit from backup investment from giant companies. Game studios must be up front about their financing, although most of them are pretty quick to answer questions about outside help. Their campaigns need to be more explicit about why they need money from the public. In some situations, such funds only help designers raise awareness and work on bonus features that otherwise wouldn’t be offered much attention.
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