Sega, You Are Once Again Making A Giant Mistake

Yakuza 3, the crime drama from SEGA, is finally coming to the West after being released in Japan almost a year ago. The game will have subtitles. That's not what SEGA is screwing up. This is.

"The content between Yakuza 3 US/UK and Yakuza JP is a little different in that we took out certain bits in order to bring the game to the west in the time allotted for us to do so. The parts we ended up taking out were parts that we felt wouldn't make sense (like a Japanese history quiz game) or wouldn't resonate as much (such as the concept of a hostess club)," SEGA told website IGN. "We didn't replace the parts we took out, but we made absolutely sure that the story continuity stayed intact so that the story experience was the same as the Japanese version and that it didn't take away the human drama so inherent to the Yakuza series."

The entire appeal of yakuza for Japanese players is that the game is a peek into the criminal underworld. For Westerners, this appeal is compounded: the game is not only a tour of the Japanese underworld, but a tour of Japan as well. Japanese history quizzes might be difficult for players who do note understand Japanese history. But SEGA has unilaterally decided that a hostess club would not resonate with Western players.

Hostess bars appear Japanese movies and those movies are released in the West, complete with hostess bar scenes intact. Hollywood film Black Rain featured an American hostess character played by Kate Capshaw. Yet, SEGA doesn't think hostesses or hostess bars would resonate with you the foreign player.

There are a wide variety of hostess bars in Japan, and they are very much part of business country. Deals are made at hostess bars, and there are a place salarymen can unwind and bond. Some businessmen go simply because they do not want to drink a lone. Not all Japanese businessmen go to hostess bars, so do not assume that they do.

Depending on the bar, visitors will either pay an entrance fee or buy a bottle, which the bar will then keep for the next time they come. Some large hostess bars have the hostesses rotate all night long from customer to customer like a game of musical chairs. Smaller hostess bars often do not.

At hostess bars, customers tend to talk about their job or flirt with the hostesses, who pour them drinks, light their cigarettes and sing karaoke songs. The girls are dressed to the nines in fancy evening wear (though, there are casual clubs, too!) and many even have their hair done at hair salons before work starts at 8pm or 9pm. Girls enter hostessing for a variety of reasons: They want to save money for a trip abroad, they owe money, they have a kid to sport or they like the salary. Good hostesses in high end clubs are good at conversation. They're knowledgeable and well-versed in many subjects so that they can talk to a wide variety of customers. However, there are hostesses that simply giggle and talk incessantly about sex.

They may talk about sex, but that doesn't mean they're doing it. The goal for a clever hostess is to string a customer on as long as possible without actually having sex. It's all about the pursuit. Drawing in the customer and keeping him interested as long as possible so he continues to visit the hostess bar and spends cashola. There may be dinner or movie dates as well. Keep in mind, everyone involved is an adult and everyone understands the dynamic. However, that does not mean customers do not fall in love with hostesses or vice-versa. It is not unheard of for a customer to marry a hostess.

Women also have the option to go to host bars, which are staffed by young men who serve the same purpose as hostesses: Hold a conversation, pour drinks, light cigarettes and sing karaoke. It's more about getting good service, having fun, letting off steam. However, hostessing is considered mizu shobai ("the water trade"), which encompasses things like actual prostitution. (Prostitution is legal as long as it does not encompass vaginal sex. Everything else is fair play.) Hostessing has been called "psychological prostitution".

SEGA does not have the space to explain all of this in Yakuza 3. But it doesn't have to. Playing a video game is an experience. Part of the experience for Yakuza 3 is visiting hostess bars - an experience that SEGA does not think has to resonate with Western players. The first Yakuza game SEGA released in 2006 was dubbed horribly in English as SEGA seemed to think players did not want to experience the title in its original language. Almost four years has passed and SEGA continues to underestimate its consumers.

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    So what are you saying.. SEGA took out Hostess bars in Yakuza 3?

    I was going to buy this game, but now I'm definately NOT. I tried the demo and thought it was MEH. In this day and age why are they using still using text boxes instead of fully having voiced dialogue? I thought this was suppose to be Japans AAA title.

    ALL dialogue should be spoken by the voice actors and not just in cut scenes. What the hell?

    And I wonder why they complain about low sales.
    The demo looked and played out dated. Shame on them.

    Hostess Bar?
    Isnt that just a strip club? But without the stripping?

      Kind of. Except the hostesses will actually socialize with you instead of just repeatedly trying to persuade you to buy a lap dance.

    sega just want to screw up all their western game releases.

    seriously, i'm sure the hostess bar would be optional to the storyline and therefore people should be able to choose whether they want to play it or not.

    if you take it out, then i might not bother buying the game and just BORROW it from a friend who will buy it.


    I hate SEGA, how could they stuff it up, don't they know by now that no gamer likes content cut from their games. The same belife applies for most other media as well.

    Not sure this is as bad or offensive as JRPGs not getting released overseas because the companies think that Westerners are too stupid, but it is a bit of a misjudgement.

      Well, given all the whinging about games like FFXIII being 'too linear for Western audiences', I see more and more why they don't bother. Damned if they do, damned if they don't, this way they don't lose money with the inevitable poor reviews by xenophobes.

    You can't go cutting content because people might not understand it, games would devolve into a samey mass of generic rubbish that looks and plays alike and has no story

    *looks around*

    YOU MANIACS! You dumbed it down! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!

      @Aliasalpha LOL I think I saw a half-buried Statue of Liberty in your reply.

    I knew something was a bit suspicious when I played the demo and the hostess bar was absent. This is just great. How do SEGA stuff something up that is so simple to get bloody right. SEGA obviously don't like western gamers cash.

    Maybe we'll get it put back in as DLC... I saw that pig fly by first!

    No matter what way they spin it, if there's one thing people hate it's cut content/censorship between different versions of international entertainment media. As insignificant as those parts of the game may be, westerners won't be experiencing the full original game, simple as that.

    Seems SEGA has a number of issues with time constraints, just look at how unpolished and half-broken AvP's multiplayer is. That could have done with an extra 3 months dev time and I doubt most gamers would have minded (given the recent release of AvP Classic), as this part of the year has already been absolutely swamped with releases.

    I thought something was up. I first downloaded the Yakuza 3 demo from the Japanese store months ago and remember being able to go to one of the hostess clubs, but in the recent demo, which is pretty much identical, you end up having the choice of going to some karaoke place instead of the hostess club.

    What a jip!

    yeh i dont get it, they did a great job localising yakuza 2....this is a step backwards.

    AndyN you need to think before you post, voice acting all dialogue is a waste of time

    I have seen the Japanese Yakuza 3 version... the hostess bar scenes are pointless and some other parts like the cut scenes are so long, so many and so boring. I say it needed a trim.

    I love how everyone is quick to slam a game with parts they haven't seen... and if they brought it out as it you would slam it anyway.

    And I thought the change in box-art was the best SEGA could come up with to turn away potential buyers...

    That's so 'Japan', really. They hide their 'darker' side so foreigners won't get the 'wrong idea'. Look at the waiwai articles on the mainichi online newspaper; there was outrage over Japanese gossip news articles being translated into English and somehow that ruined Japan's image (despite the fact they were simply translated from Japan's common gossip rags).

    as much as i want to boycot, im sure they'll release it as dlc later (better be free) after all the nerdrage coming there way, i loved yakuza 1... now stop wasting my time and make shenmue 3, no one likes it when a story ends with "to be continued" and then never gets a follow up're serious? Well, that's one less game for me to buy.

    The whole appeal of this game is that it is so very Japanese; it's not MEANT to resonate with us westerners.

    Bad move Sega, bad move.

    Hmmm next we shall hear the US companies will be pulling all the violence and gore from zombie shooter sequels, merely due to a rating system anomaly in the only other Western country that rivals it for gun registration. Ridiculous. Its one rule for multinational games developers, and another for the rest of us.

    Call me a pedant, but there is uncharacteristically poor proofreading in this article.

    As for the content, I completely agreee. It's a strange decision. Paying for female company is probably the most culturally universal concept in the world.

    I was going to buy this, but now I'm out.
    I never buy watered down versions of anything, and Yakuza 3 is no exception.

    What irks me is that if this game doesn't sell as well due to the omissions, SEGA won't blame themselves in accordance with the cut material in favour of saying thatthe title didn't strike a chord with Western audiences.

    Err you lot don't even know what your talking about, the only content removed are the hostess bars which bears no actual relation to the game and is in fact sort of a mini-game where you accumilate hearts with the girl you choose. Given the kind of stuff you talk about to the girls it will come off as weird or unnatural in english.

    Yes I have played the Japanese version.

    not a big deal to me. i would rather pound virtual faces on virtual sidewalks than get a virtual string along by a virtual woman who wants my virtual money.

    "The parts we ended up taking out were parts that we felt wouldn’t make sense (like a Japanese history quiz game) or wouldn’t resonate as much (such as the concept of a hostess club)"

    Bulldust. Tell the truth. You didn't want to fork out the extra money and time it could have cost to have it translated into English. Considering both those things were in the last 2 western releases of the Yakuza series and western gamers brains didn't implode then, taking them out now makes Sega look like tightwads. Japanese game developers really get on my nerves.

    Wow.. I was pretty interested in getting the game too. I don't think I'll get it now or I might just get the Japanese edition. If they didn't have much time, why couldn't they just delay it? It's pretty bull to think that hostess clubs (kyabakura) "won't resonate" with Western people. I can understand taking out the Japanese quiz since I've studied Japanese for the last 9 years and I still don't know much history, but taking out hostess clubs because Western people don't know anything (in my opinion sounding a bit racist) is a poor excuse.

    Black Rain was a seriously (terrible) cool movie. It was 80's in all the right ways.

    You should read this article again - and then correct the literally dozens of spelling and grammar errors. What a mess.

    This isn't some smoke screen simply because the ESRB would rate the age group higher than SEGA would prefer if it had 'mature sexual' content on top of the violence?

    Wouldn't suprise me in the least.

    I found the most disappointing part of the demo to be the animation which looked very, very antiquated.

    Still a buy game for me. Gotta support SEGA whenever one can.

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