Nobody seriously thought when the Kickstarter for Shenmue III was announced that it wouldn’t be funded. I went to the link Sony put up onscreen right when I saw it, and the Kickstarter page already had $800 pledged. But even Sony appears to have lowballed just how much people want a third Shenmue.
Shenmue, for those unfamiliar, is a series of open world games that follows Ryo Hazuki as he tries to solve the mystery of why his father was killed. Unlike a lot of games at the time, how and whether you pursued that mystery was entirely up to you, and actually largely secondary to the real goal which was to recreate the city of Yokosuka on a game system and allow the player to freely explore it. It had weather, a day and night cycle, fully voiced NPCs who had schedules, the works. Arguably it was the game that set the stage for much of modern gaming, although it struggled to make back its huge budget. It had a sequel in 2001, which ended on a cliffhanger.
Nearly 15 years later, we’re apparently getting the final chapter. It’s not clear if Shenmue III is the fastest to $1 million in crowdfunding on Kickstarter; the Pebble Watch did manage to clear that figure in just 18 minutes, after all. But it’s moving at lightning speed, hitting its $2 million goal in nine hours, a new record on the site, and currently sitting at just over $2.3 million after twelve hours. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that this game will double its goal by the first day of funding.
Some will complain this is little more than a marketing gimmick, which, to some degree, it is; basically this is Sony using what amounts to pre-orders as a way to gauge interest. But a digital copy of the game on PS4 is just $30, and if you’ve been waiting this long, a little gimmickry isn’t too much to put up with.