When people speak about the legacy of Shenmue, it’s often in relation to the many gameplay mechanics popularized by the series. But one aspect of its legacy that’s less often discussed is the effect, if any, of Shenmue’s abandoned cliffhanger on other games.
Has the industry learned any lessons from the resentment that Sega has earned by leaving its fans high and dry after Shenmue II? Are the publishers of modern episodic franchises taking measured steps to avoid the same backlash?
The next time a company like Telltale Games or BioWare is interviewed about the launch of a new IP that’s being touted as the first part in a trilogy (or longer), there are two questions we’d like to see asked:
“Has funding been set aside for the rest of the series, or does each sequel depend on the financial success of the previous game?”
And if the latter, “If those sequels don’t get released then will the story of the first game stand up on its own, or do players who invest financially and emotionally in this installment risk getting Shenmued?”
The gaming press holding companies to account over these decisions would be as valuable a legacy for Shenmue as any technical or artistic revolution. If we can help prevent other gamers from experiencing the same disappointment and disregard that we’ve felt from Sega over the last fourteen years, then Shenmue III will not have “died” in vain.
Resurrection notwithstanding, of course… #SaveShenmue