After A 14-Year Wait, Fans Fund Shenmue Sequel Overnight

With $2.4 million and rising, the game is on track to be Kickstarter's most funded

Yu Suzuki announces Shenmue III at Sony's E3 2015 event.
YouTube/ Screenshot

"It's in your hands now," Shenmue creator Yu Suzuki said in a video during Sony's E3 event, announcing a Kickstarter for the long-awaited sequel to the Japanese open-world adventure series that debuted in 1999.

And it seems those were good hands, as the third installation of the series raised more its $2 million goal in 12 hours, putting it on track to be Kickstarter's most funded video game of all time. Fans funded Shenmue III to the tune of $1 million in less than two hours from launch, the fastest project to hit that mark except for Pebble Time.

This is the latest in a series of games to make big splashes on Kickstarter.

The most highly crowdfunded game of all time is Star Citizen, a sci-fi space shooter that fans poured more than $84 million into. The Kickstarter campaign only raised about $2 million, but continued independent funding has sustained the project, despite fears that the game will never be completed. A launch date hasn't been announced yet, but founder Chris Roberts has released a series of modules that the game will rest on, in a seeming attempt to placate funders and show progress on the the final product.

Despite the fast success, Shenmue III will require a lot more funding to become a reality. The first Shenmue game, released in 1999, cost $70 million to make. Grand Theft Auto V cost an estimated $260 million to make, and Activision dedicated $500 million to Destiny.

With a franchise so well-recognized, and originally funded by Sega, this announcement begs the question, “Why Kickstarter?”

Suzuki addresses this question, albeit not well, in the description of the project, writing: “If Shenmue 3 was going to get made, I wanted to make it with the fans. Through Kickstarter, I knew that could happen.”

Shenmue III’s campaign ends July 17.

Update: It appears that Sony will be partnering with Yu Suzuki and his team to produce Shenmue III, as Kotaku reports. There's no confirmed amount of funding, but Gio Corsi, director of third party relations at Sony said:

“Sony and PlayStation is definitely a partner in this game,” said Corsi, “and it’s going to be run through third-party production. We’re going to help Ys Net get the game done, we’re going to be partners on it the whole way, and really excited to see this thing come out in a couple of years.”

This reporting comes after questions of Shenmue 3’s Kickstarter campaign only asking for $2 million, when the first Shenmue game cost $70 million to make in 1999.