When Sony announced it was working with Yu Suzuki on possibly making Shenmue 3, before shouting out a Kickstarter, reaction was mixed. Many were excited, but a vocal minority asked an interesting question. If Sony was so committed to the development of Shenmue 3, why not fund it themselves, the old fashioned way.
Of note: $2 million, the Kickstarter goal, seemed a little low, particularly when the Shenmue games were notoriously expensive to develop. People started asking the question: was Sony using this Kickstarter to judge the demand for Shenmue III before actually committing to it?
Now, in an interview on the PlayStation Twitch stream, Gio Corsi, the Director of Third Party Productions at SCEA, admits that was exactly the case. Sony was using this Kickstarter to judge demand for Shenmue III.
"Shenmue 3 was the number one ask on the old 'building the list' campaign," explained Corsi. This has been an ask for as long as I've been at PlayStation. We met with Suzuki-san at GDC last year and we started the long road to try and figure out how we were going to get this whole thing made and we said the only way this thing is going to happen is if the fans speak up and we thought Kickstarter was the perfect place to do this.
"So we set a goal for $2 million and said if the fans come in and, you know, back it then absolutely we're going to make this a reality. So Sony and PlayStation is definitely a partner in this game and it's gonna be run through third party production. We're gonna help YSnet get the game done, we're gonna be partners on it the whole way and we're gonna see this thing come out in a couple of years."
Now this is a little strange. I like to think of Kickstarter as a place for new ideas to get funded, or a place for products that otherwise wouldn't get made to get financial support. Is it a place for a massive corporate company like Sony to partake in a little focus testing at the consumer's expense? I'm not so sure. That seems a little strange. Sure, those that committed to the Kickstarter will get what they paid for, but I can't help but feel as though this was the wrong way to go about things. If Shenmue 3 was one of the most requested games at Sony HQ, maybe they should have made the commitment without using a service like Kickstarter.