It’s been six months now since the North American release of Toshihiro Nagoshi’s masterpiece title Yakuza Kiwami 2. That’s six months now that those without access to a PlayStation 3 or Sony’s PlayStation Now service have been waiting to play the third (or fourth) numbered entry in the Yakuza series. But with the latest offering from Toshihiro Nagoshi Judgment (formerly Project Judge) set to release at some point during Summer 2019, just when can we expect to see Yakuza 3, 4, and 5 on PlayStation 4?
Before we can take a guess at the answer, we need to look at everything we know about the games on PlayStation 4. Currently in Japan both Yakuza 3 and Yakuza 4 are already available on PlayStation 4, releasing at a rate of roughly one title every three months. With Yakuza 4 releasing on January 17, this likely means we’ll be seeing Yakuza 5 release in Japan in about two months from now, putting it sometime between April and May.
Unlike both Yakuza and Yakuza 2, none of these games are receiving the “Kiwami” remake treatment, instead opting for a 1080p 60fps remaster as a result of their somewhat recent release on PlayStation 3. While this makes sense for a country like Japan where the games were already a commercial success at the time of their original release, it makes less sense for the North American market which likely didn’t even know these games existed back in 2010.
For many playing through Yakuza 0, Yakuza Kiwami, and Yakuza Kiwami 2, this lack of a remake is likely to come as a shock, and there’s every chance SEGA of America knows this. Not only will the next numbered entry in a series they’ve spent the last couple of years playing look like a last-gen title, but it’ll largely play like one too. This is a direct result of the remasters not utilizing the Dragon Engine of Yakuza Kiwami 2 and Yakuza 6: The Song of Life that fans of the series are at this point already accustomed to.
Following the announcements of both Yakuza Kiwami and Yakuza Kiwami 2 in the West, it took SEGA of America roughly six months to actually release the games on PlayStation 4. This isn’t particularly surprising and is actually quite a quick turn around for any video game announcement. But if we follow this same announce-release logic, where does that put Yakuza 3, 4, and 5?
Within the next six-or-so months we’re expecting to see Judgment release in the West, and I’m willing to bet on the fact SEGA isn’t planning to release it too close to that. But by that point Yakuza 3 will already have been out in Japan on PlayStation 4 for a year, and it will have also been a year since Yakuza Kiwami 2 came out in the West. We’d also be creeping up dangerously close on the estimated release date of the PlayStation 5, especially if SEGA then plans to release both Yakuza 4 and Yakuza 5 at later dates.
So what does all this information most likely hint at? Well, I’d argue that it’s very much a possibility we’ll be seeing the remaining three Yakuza games released simultaneously in a single package. Such a release format would not only allow SEGA to get the games out in a timely manner but would also help mitigate the blowback of releasing sequels with a significantly less powerful engine to a region so accustomed to something more.
It’d be difficult to pinpoint just when SEGA might announce a package like this, or if they even would, but given that they’re currently pushing Judgment as hard as possible, it’s unlikely to be announced until after Judgment’s release. With that in mind, a rough estimate would place the release around Winter 2019, possibly even early 2020 at the latest.
There’s also the currently unannounced release date of Shin Yakuza to take into account, as well as the recently-released Yakuza Online smartphone title that we’ve yet to see make its way to the West. Knowing that Yakuza Online exists to bridge the Kazuma Kiryu saga (Yakuza 1 – 6) with the Ichiban Kasuga saga (Shin Yakuza – ?) it’d be somewhat surprising to see it not make its way to the West, especially with the commercial success of other Japanese import mobile games in recent years.
So with so much going on in the world of Yakuza that SEGA of America is needing to catch up on, just how much time do they have to actually release Yakuza 3, 4, and 5? Not a whole lot, and that’s why it’s unlikely we’ll be seeing them released individually. At any rate, I’d be thrilled to finally work my way through the remaining three titles all at once so I can catch up and enjoy Yakuza 6: The Song of Life already.
While playing the three remaining titles on PlayStation Now is an option, I’m positive that the remasters will also feature an improved translation, and I don’t think I’m willing to spoil myself with something that will in just a few months be outdated. The same goes for just picking up a used PlayStation 3 to play the games, there’s no point in playing a 720p 30fps version of the games when these remasters are so, so very close.
Though I don’t see SEGA releasing Yakuza 3, 4, or 5 for quite a few months thanks to the upcoming release of Judgment, I’m reserving hope that when they do finally come out the wait between each game will be nil. If an announcement for the titles is shared after Judgment finally comes out this Summer, then here’s hoping it’s a big one. While everything I’ve said here is purely speculatory, I think I speak for many when I say we’re beyond ready to finally play Yakuza 3 on PlayStation 4.
For those interested in checking out more on Toshihiro Nagoshi’s masterpiece series, be sure to check out the first part of our interview with the creator of Yakuza, here.