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Shenmue III Is “Not a AAA Mass-Market Product” Says Publisher About Sales

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Following a heavily-promoted crowdfunding campaign and lengthy development cycle, Shenmue III finally saw release in 2019. The game was published for the PS4 and PC by Deep Silver, which is owned by the Embracer Group (formerly THQ Nordic).

Speaking at a financial results presentation earlier today, Embracer’s CEO, Lars Wingefors, remarked on Shenmue III’s performance.

“I was happy to see the core fans of Shenmue [were] happy, but it’s clear that Shenmue is not a triple-A mass-market product,” Wingefors said while going over Deep Silver’s financial results. “It’s a product for the fans and I’m happy that we pleased them.”

Later during the presentation, Wingefors responded to a question about whether he expected better performance from the game, stating: “Shenmue III is an IP and a product I love. I think financially it’s fine and I’m glad the core fans are pleased. However, I think it’s a challenge to see this as a mass-market product. It’s a core, niche product and that’s the comment [I have] on that game.”

Wingefors did not provide sales figures for Shenmue III, nor did he specify what internal expectations for the game were. Shenmue III famously raised $2 million in Kickstarter funding in less than seven hours, and went on to collect over $7 million from 81,000 backers over the course of its various crowdfunding initiatives. Following a publishing deal with Deep Silver, it saw further financial support from that company, who, according to director Yu Suzuki, allowed him to “make the game with a larger scale featuring open-world elements”.

At some point following the publishing deal, Deep Silver felt the need to partner with Epic Games for Shenmue III’s PC release, announcing that the digital PC version of the game would be exclusive to the Epic Games Store for its first year. PC backers were allowed to redeem a physical copy for PC, a digital copy for the Epic Games Store, the PS4 version, or request a refund that would be fulfilled by Epic Games.

Since its release, Shenmue III has received mixed reviews, although Suzuki has pledged to deliver a fourth game in the series to fans.

Ishaan Sahdev
Ishaan specializes in game design/sales analysis. He's the former managing editor of Siliconera and wrote the book "The Legend of Zelda - A Complete Development History". He also used to moonlight as a professional manga editor. These days, his day job has nothing to do with games, but the two inform each other nonetheless.