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Reddit: Cédric Biscay: “Without Kickstarter, Shenmue 3 would never have seen the light of day”

Cédric Biscay:

 

“Without Kickstarter, Shenmue 3 would never have seen the light of day”

 

An interview with the man behind the rebirth of Shenmue 3

 

His name is Cédric Biscay, he’s French and he’s in charge of a company where lots of people would like to go around dressed up as little mice (?).

The fact that we were able to shed a tear watching Yu Suzuki announce Shenmue 3 during the Sony conference at E3 2015 was thanks to Shibuya Productions.

And of course we’d like to find out more about it…

1)

Question:

Hello Cédric. Could you introduce yourself and your company, Shibuya Productions?

 

Answer:

At the very core I’m a fan of video games and animation. I started at age 5 with a monochrome CPC 646 and played import games at a time when games took ages to come out in France (if they came out at all). I’m also an out-and-out fan of the Sega Saturn and the Neo Geo Pocket Color but I’ve had more or less every single console at one time or another. I started my first business in 2002, Shibuya International, which was a consulting firm specialised in business relationships between Europe and Japan.

In 2014 I officially set up Shibuya Productions in Monaco. The business’ main goal is to produce animation and video games. Last April we opened a branch in Japan. Since the 2006 school year I’ve also been a professor of video games at Master 1 and Master 2 level at the Ecole Polytechnique de Nice – Sophia Antipolis.

I focus especially on the Japanese, Korean and Chinese markets.


2)

Question:

How many people work in the business?

 

Answer:

people currently work for Shibuya Productions. I don’t think that a creative business needs a large staff to work well. Our strength comes in our ability to surround ourselves with high-quality partners.


3)

Question:

Why the name “Shibuya?

 

Answer:

When I first discovered Japan, I was fascinated by Shibuya – its lights, its game centres, the very fashionable side of the population. During my first trips to Japan I went to Shibuya every single night. Also, when you consider the cosmopolitan nature of the district, I thought that the name corresponded exactly to what I wanted to do.


4)

Question:

Apart from the next MAGIC, the Astro reboot, Windwalkers and Shenmue 3, are there any other projects that you can talk about, or give us a teaser about?

 

Answer:

We’ve just finished our first feature-length animation, Lilly and the Magic Pearl, which is an indie movie with Ben Cross (Chariots of Fire, Star Trek) cast as a voice actor in the US version. We’re also working on Fusion, a trans-medium, thick and complex universe, the first part of which will be a novel by Alain Damasio coming out in early 2016. We’re also working on manga, video games, TV series, and so on. Soon we’ll be unveiling our first piece of hardware, a tool which will help you get fit and play games at the same time! We showed it off in Japan last month to famous faces of the gaming world such as Yuki Naga, Shinji Hashimoto, Fumito Ueda and Yu Suzuki, to name just a few.


5)

Question:

How did the idea of financing a videogame project worth more than €100,000 through a competition come about?

 

Answer:

Personally I believe that gameplay is becoming more and more of a secondary priority in video games. Seeing great graphics and sublime animations is all well and good, but if you can entertain yourself at the same time then even better. With €100,000, we can’t create triple-A games, of course, but if we can help people like me, who want to put gameplay back at the heart of their games then we’ll gladly do it. We set this priority out when we created the competition. Leon, the winner of the 2015 competition, is the perfect example of this.


6)

Question:

Were you satisfied by the way the competition went on, and what lessons did you learn for the next competition?

 

Answer:

I was surprised by the success the competition had – there were more than 40 entries from 5 countries, including Japan, which is amazing for a first time. The professional jury, made up of Eric Chahi, Alain Damasio and Oskar Guilbert, were also surprised by the quality of the submissions. Entries are open on the site www.magic-ip.com and two members of the jury have already been announced, Viktor Kalvachev (Blue Estate) and Christophe Heral (Rayman).


7)

Question:

1:  What place does Shenmue have in your life as a game?

2: What was your first experience with the game?

 

Answer:

I first played Shenmue in Japanese when it came out in 2000, when I didn’t understand any of the language at all. I remember it well, because I used to forget lots of my classes at school due to the game, which I was spending a lot of time playing! It’s a great memory. I remember my jaw dropping every time I switched on the Dreamcast.


8)

Question:

How did you meet Yu Suzuki?

 

Answer:

A friend organised a meeting between us at his office a few years ago, as I wanted to invite him to an event. We got on very well straight away.


9)

Question:

How did you end up setting out on the Shenmue 3 adventure together? How long ago was it?

 

Answer:

We started by drinking some excellent wine. The first time we properly spoke about the project was in Monaco in 2013.


10)

Question:

How did you convince Sega to let you create the third version of the franchise on your own? Was it hard?

 

Answer:

Yu Suzuki took personal charge of this part.


11)

Question:
Why is there no Xbox One or Wii U version?

 

Answer:

Sony immediately made it clear that they wanted Shenmue 3 on PS4. I can’t tell you anything about the Xbox One or the Wii U as I don’t have any information about those consoles.


12)

Question:

How many people work on Shenmue 3 at Shibuya? What do they do?

 

Answer:

Three people at the moment: a producer (me), a production assistant and a coordinator.


13)
Question:

How did it feel to see your logo, your project on the big screen at E3?

 

Answer:

I have a story about this. I was actually very confident about the successful launch of Shenmue 3 until the conference started. I happened to see Ueda-san passing and, as I know him somewhat, I thought that if he was there it must be to show off The Last Guardian – he wouldn’t have travelled otherwise. I was also told about the FF VII Remake and I started to think that the launch of Shenmue 3 wouldn’t be as well-noticed as I had hoped. It was only at the launch itself that I realised that I’d worried for nothing: people around me were crying, and when the logo appeared

I was very proud of the work we’d done.


14)

Question:

A bit of a stupid question: the remake of Halo has a feature whereby you can change from the original graphics to the actual graphics at the press of a button. Did you consider doing something similar with the original Dreamcast graphics of Shenmue 3?

 

Answer:

I don’t know anything about that, but it sounds like it would be a great feature to add!


15)

Question:
What will we see in the next MAGIC? Will there be a real trailer? Is there already a little bit of gameplay?

 

Answer:

I hope there’ll be a trailer, and a little more, why not? Yu Suzuki will also hold a conference to talk about the game and how it’s coming along.


16)

Question:

Now that the Kickstarter is well on its way, could we have a clear answer on whether Shenmue 3 will be the end of the saga, or whether you’re already planning Shenmue 4 or 5?

 

Answer:

I think that Yu Suzuki has already said that Shenmue 3 won’t be the final part of the saga; however you can’t expect there to be a tonne of episodes. Our aim isn’t to keep Shenmue going forever but rather to finish the story.


17)

Question:

Can you see the consequent games being funded by Kickstarter?

 

Answer:

It’s unlikely but it’s still a possibility. Shenmue 3 needed a Kickstarter because noone wanted to take the risk of making the game in the past 14 years. I would hope that the situation wouldn’t arise again.


18)

Question:

Financially speaking, how do you approach a project like this?

 

Answer:

It’s a very atypical project; the backers can’t expect to get IP rights, which still belong to Sega. It’s therefore very difficult to convince investment partners because there’s a huge risk.

I can’t answer for SEGA, but as far as I’m concerned, the risk is that the game won’t sell enough when it comes out. As Yu Suzuki as said, Shibuya Productions won’t get a cent from the Kickstarter Campaign and so we can’t depend on future sales. As for benefits, it’s obvious that bringing this game out affords us a rare amount of visibility on the international stage, in terms of image.


19)

Question:

Apart from Sony and the Kickstarter backers, where has the funding come from?

 

Answer:

I only see two logos on the promotional material: YS Net and Shibuya Productions.


20)

Question:

Do you think that last-minute investment from exterior sources will get the funding up to the €11m budget that Yu Suzuki wanted?

 

Answer:

It’s possible, yes.


21)

Question

Did you ever foresee success like this on Kickstarter?

 

Answer:

I didn’t imagine that we’d break two world records. Now we’re at the level I expected. I secretly dream of Shenmue 3 becoming the highest-funded video game ever on Kickstarter, but we’re still a way off that.


22)

Question:

Do you think that SEGA, faced with this kind of success, will finally start work on HD versions of the first two games?

 

Answer:

I sincerely hope so. They’re the only ones who can decide though, even if we push for it.


23)

Question:

What was your reaction to the problems embroiling the funding of the project, due to the clumsy statements of Andrew House (chief of Sony Computer Entertainment), and the reaction of certain journalists and players?

 

Answer:

It annoyed me because people forget that this game has never been able to be developed in the last 14 years, and so it’s clear that the Kickstarter campaign played a vital role in its funding. I think that the media’s desire to create buzz around this issue will strain our campaign by at least $2m. I don’t have any words for the minority of journalists who seem to sometimes forget their duty to provide information by writing about their interpretations rather than facts.

We know that to sell as much as we can we need to create a sensational game. Saying that Shenmue 3 is great and that it should be funded isn’t going against the consensus, and so probably not interesting enough for them.

The people who have taken the time to read the statements and the official pages have all the information at their disposal. To put it clearly, without Kickstarter, Shenmue 3 would never have seen the light of day, and so the campaign is exactly what you’re entitled to expect from participatory funding. Luckily, the Shenmue community is extraordinary and in the end I’m very happy with the campaign, especially from a human perspective. Most people understand that I committed Shibuya Productions to making Shenmue 3 so that the series could be brought back to life despite the risks that this entails.

The thousands of thank-you messages I’ve received since E3 validate this approach and push us to keep on going.

 

Thank you so much!

Bertie Wiseman
In order for Shenmue 3 to be the best game we could want, remember to make a donation at Shenmue 3 website – (https://shenmue.link/order/) If you missed out during KickStarter and it’s great way to show support and become part of gaming history.

There are still stretch goals to be reached.

Created this website for the Shenmue500K group but when Shenmue 3 Kickstarter happened… What other role it needed to play. This website will bring you all the latest (New,Updates and Interviews and maybe even odd article from myself). Regarding Shenmue 3 Development over the next 2 years.

Enjoy 😉

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Bertie Wiseman
In order for Shenmue 3 to be the best game we could want, remember to make a donation at Shenmue 3 website - (https://shenmue.link/order/) If you missed out during KickStarter and it's great way to show support and become part of gaming history. There are still stretch goals to be reached. Created this website for the Shenmue500K group but when Shenmue 3 Kickstarter happened... What other role it needed to play. This website will bring you all the latest (New,Updates and Interviews and maybe even odd article from myself). Regarding Shenmue 3 Development over the next 2 years. Enjoy ;)

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