When Lost Judgment, the latest entry in Sega’s Yakuza spin-off series, launches later this year, it will be available on the same day worldwide, a feat no game in the overall franchise has managed up to this point. But achieving a simultaneous global release comes with a cost.
“It tripled the struggles for the entire development staff,” Lost Judgment producer Kazuki Hosokawa told Inverse. “Up until now, we have been focusing on the Japanese market and creating products with how we were going to promote it already in mind. However, for Lost Judgment, we knew from the start we wanted to strive for a simultaneous global release, so we had to think about what would be appropriate for the product and how to convey the appeal of the product in each region.”
Yakuza games have previously arrived in the West months or even years after launching in Japan. Judgment took over six months to be localised after its initial 2018 release and, more recently, fans had to wait almost a full year before Yakuza: Like a Dragon left Japanese borders. Making games is never easy, but it’s clear Sega’s Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio has shouldered an additional level of stress in making sure Lost Judgment releases globally.
Hosokawa, who has worked on several Yakuza games since 2006, claimed in the same interview that Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio enjoys low turnover rates despite what might be considered by outsiders as a gruelling, annual release schedule.
“It’s all about being aware of the goals and motivation, and then dedication and ingenuity,” Hosokawa added. “The ongoing relationship of the development team also plays a significant role. Having a team with such a strong mutual understanding is definitely a strength. That is probably why we continue to pursue production and quality at our current pace.”
While it’s certainly worrying to hear a Ryu Ga Gotoku producer talk about increases to workload months out from a game release, parent company Sega has long sought to improve employee health by avoiding overwork. Since establishing an anti-overtime initiative in 2013, the company announced in 2018 it had reduced “long overtime hours” among several of its studios by at least 80%. That’s not to say it’s guaranteed no one will be crunching to get Lost Judgment out the door, especially with the way Japanese work culture often manifests such conditions, but at least it appears Sega is conscious of the problem and actively working on solutions.
Lost Judgment is scheduled to arrive on September 24 for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.