At the 2015 Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, Sony invited Shenmue creator and former Sega developer Yu Suzuki on stage to announce that he was making Shenmue III as a crowdfunding project on Kickstarter. That campaign raised $6.3 million with plans to release it in December 2017. After missing that date, the open-world forklift-driving simulator is getting another delay from sometime this year to sometime in 2019.
European publisher Deep Silver, a subsidiary of THQ Nordic, revealed the delay on its website.
“Deep Silver today announced that its upcoming release Shenmue III has been moved and will now release in 2019,” reads the publisher’s statement. “The extra time will be used to polish the quality of the game even further to the high standards it deserves and release the product in the best possible timeframe.”
Suzuki and Sega released the first Shenmue for the Dreamcast console in 1999. The followup launched in 2001 for Dreamcast and then Xbox in 2002. Since then, fans of the series have asked Sega — and anyone else who would listen — to continue the unfinished story.
While Sony didn’t exactly listen to fan’s pleas and bring back the game itself, the company did give Suzuki stage time at E3 to launch his Kickstarter. That helped it end up as one of the most funded games projects ever on that platform. While that turned it into a huge crowdfunding campaign, $6.3 million is a small budget for a large, open-world narrative experience. That’s where Deep Silver has stepped in to publish and provide support.
But even with publisher backing, Shenmue III couldn’t afford another delay. For an audience of fans who have already waited since 2001 for a sequel, another year may sting, but it’s a longing pain they’re accustomed to.