#GiveYuTheShenmueLicense becomes #SaveShenmue, and more!December 8, 2013It's announcement time!For a while now we've been alluding to upcoming changes to the campaign, and the day has finally come to let the cat out of the bag.As you'll gather from the title above, one of the big modifications to the monthly Shenmue Tweetathon is the retirement of #GiveYuTheShenmueLicense as the communal hashtag, in favor of the simpler and more versatile #SaveShenmue.The other big change is that we're now officially expanding the event beyond Twitter and onto other social networks, principly Facebook and Tumblr (because these are the networks currently supported by Thunderclap, the message pre-loading service that has become a staple tool of the campaign).All the necessary details for participating in the new monthly events, which still take place on every 3rd, can be found at http://TeamYu.net/SaveShenmue - please take a look and lend your support to the January 3rd Thunderclap, which is now accepting sign-ups.For those who may be confused about why these changes are taking place, let us take this opportunity to explain how we got here.In January 2012 we began the Team Yu project, following comments from Yu Suzuki in an interview with French fansite Shenmue Master. We were motivated by Yu's continued enthusiasm for his untold story, a conclusion that gamers had spent the past decade awaiting. In the interview, Suzuki made reference to Sega being the owners of the license, and it soon became clear from his eagerness to complete the series that it was Sega who refused to deliver satisfaction to the fans.At the time, we saw Suzuki coming under undue criticism from gamers who didn't understand his position. He would be blamed for not making Shenmue III, as if it was he that had turned up his nose at the wishes of those who'd been hooked by the saga. So we set out to redress this misconception of indifference and restore Yu's reputation as the most steadfast believer in his own most celebrated work.On March 3rd of that year, we began partnering with established fan groups to promote a monthly Shenmue Tweetathon, built around the hashtag #GiveYuTheShenmueLicense. This phrase was designed to illustrate Yu's role as the determined proponent for Shenmue, compared against Sega's role as its dispassionate custodian. The implied message was, "Yu cares more about Shenmue than Sega does. If they won't allocate funds to the franchise, they don't deserve to control its destiny."We couldn't be sure it would catch on, but we wanted to focus on this angle in particular to capture the imaginations of fans who had grown immune to Shenmue war cries over the years, as one campaign after another fell on Sega's deaf ears. We hoped that #GiveYuTheShenmueLicense, and the concept of a regular Tweetathon that not only maintained the pressure on Sega month after month but did so in the public eye where their response (or lack thereof) could be judged by all, would be enough to spark the interest of fans who were weary of signing petitions and writing letters.Nearly two years on, with the latest Tweetathon reaching an audience of two and a half million in 24 hours, we can say with relief that yes, it caught on. And we're very grateful to you that it did, because without your embracing of the campaign and increased participation every month, we would not be in the position we are today, setting out ways to take this momentum even further.The expansion onto Facebook and Tumblr is an obvious step, one that was requested long ago, but in the campaign's infancy it was important to concentrate our efforts on one platform. When we had relatively few participants, spreading them across different social networks would not have allowed us to make the required impact anywhere. Now we feel that we have a solid enough core to support this branching out into new territory, with realistic hope that activity on Twitter won't suffer for it.Meanwhile the change in hashtag has multiple reasons behind it. #GiveYuTheShenmueLicense has served its purpose in opening people's eyes to Yu Suzuki's alignment with the fans in wanting Shenmue III to happen. At the same time however, it has been divisive. Not all fans have understood the intent behind these words, and have dwelled on their disapproval of its literal meaning. In order for the campaign to expand, we need to lift this barrier to entry and simplify the message to #SaveShenmue. This flexible term can be used to address the likes of Sony who have recently suggested an interest in bringing the franchise to Playstation formats, while it also embodies the spirit of the original hashtag: Shenmue is unjustly underutilized by Sega.Therefore, with uncertainty hovering over Sony's intentions, and nervous speculation surrounding Suzuki's headline appearance at the Game Developers Conference in March, now is the time for all Shenmue fans to unite and spread the message farther and wider than ever before. From January 3rd onwards, on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr, Team Yu needs YOU to #SaveShenmue!
Never Underestimate the Power of Playstation...?November 18, 2013First of all, a huge thank you to everyone who has helped this month's Thunderclap pass the minimum threshold of 100 supporters so far. Over 55,000 news feeds are set to receive one of your pre-loaded tweets when they are simultaneously released on December 3rd, and we hope to see that number keep growing!A few short months ago, Gio Corsi of Sony's Third Party Production group launched an appeal for gamers to request their favorite content on the Playstation 4 and PS Vita. Naturally Shenmue fans responded (http://tinyurl.com/tweetsony), going all out to make ourselves heard amongst the rabble (http://tinyurl.com/giocorsi).
Now let's bring you up to speed on some news...
Last Tuesday Kotaku's Jason Schreier published an interview with Adam Boyes, of Sony's Publisher & Developer Relations department, about the list of titles collated by the project. It offered hope for what may come of all this, so we recommend taking the time to read the article here: http://kotaku.com/sonys-giant-list-of-video-games-1463345943
Some key points of interest to us:
Schreier: "With the caveat that this is all up in the air, this is all in negotiations, are there any that you guys have in mind that you would really like to bring over here?"
Boyes: "I think a lot — we get a ton of requests for Yakuza, a ton of requests for Shenmue. We see the lists. Like everything that people have tweeted Gio, literally we have a person that compiles those lists and prioritizes based on how many requests we've gotten. And I think to date there's well over 10,000 mentions across like forum threads and stuff like that. So those are the ones we're focused on."
Schreier: "When you say that you're targeting games in Japan, you mentioned Yakuza, you mentioned Shenmue - those are older games. Are you looking at PSP games? Are you looking at PS3 games?"
Boyes: "You could imagine that every piece of content that's come to those platforms over in Japan, we're looking at bringing over. It's also a balance of like, is it gonna be commercially viable if there isn't some sort of HD remix, should it come just as the native version, should we port it up? And so those are conversations, again - I worked at Capcom, now I work with Sony, so this is my second Japanese company. It's about trust. And it takes a long time to have those conversations and make sure everyone feels comfortable, especially 'cause it's like, we haven't released it before in America, how's it gonna do and stuff like that."
Boyes: "...we're doing a lot of different things that are gonna make pockets of people happy. There's not like one thing that's gonna make everyone's mind explode. The key is to bring people that are fans of certain content great stuff. So if people are fans of Japanese content, you can imagine that's a place we're putting a lot of effort into..."
That last quote is particularly encouraging to us, with naysayers often claiming that Shenmue's fanbase is a vocal minority not worth investing in, compared to games with established universal appeal. From Adam's words, it appears Sony aims to appease "niche" fanbases to collect all the goodwill being passed up by companies who repeatedly target the saturated mainstream. As the quintessential holy grail of demanded sequels, after twelve years of unwavering demand, Shenmue III comes bundled with as much goodwill as any game possibly could, with the added bonus of minds exploding into the bargain.
So with this interview, and the conspicuous fact that Gio Corsi has favorited more tweets about Shenmue than any other requested game, we believe there's reason to be hopeful that Sony will approach Sega to help bring the series to modern systems.
While everybody dreams of a multiformat release for Shenmue 1 & 2 HD and Shenmue III, unfortunately Sega is showing no signs of pulling its finger out to fund those titles by itself. The only way these games will ever see the light of day could be with the help of a console manufacturer like Sony, which inevitably means platform exclusivity, a dirty phrase to many who find themselves on the wrong side of the hardware fence.
But if Sony is successful in giving their customers what they want, then at least fans will have the option - even if it's not their preferred option - of buying the required system and playing Shenmue III. Regardless of anyone's dream scenarios, no other solution appears to be on the table. We can talk about how great it would be for everyone to have it available on whatever console they own, and fanboys for other systems can squeal about how much they hate the Playstation brand, but the harsh reality shows no indication that any of us can afford to be choosy. If anyone gets to the play the game at all, we'll be damn lucky.
So we would urge all Shenmue fans - no matter which company's mast you've pinned your gaming colors to - to encourage this potential deal between Sony and Sega to finally make the resurrection of Shenmue a reality. We said the same about Nintendo when they rescued Bayonetta 2, and we'd say the same about Microsoft if they were to make any such gesture. The box of plastic and wires is not important, what matters is the game being made by any means possible, and here we see a rare opportunity in the form of Sony's mission to bring its customers their most requested games - a list that they've acknowledged includes Shenmue.
Congratulations to everybody for answering Sony's call. They heard us. Now we hope Sega hears them.
To keep spreading the word about Shenmue, please urge your friends to pre-load their message for automatic release during the next Shenmue Tweetathon: http://TeamYu.net/Dec3rd
You can read more about the Sony situation and how it compares with last year's Shenmue HD rumor frenzy on our Facebook page.