SEGA has come a long way since the days of removing parts of Yakuza 3 because western audiences wouldn't "get it". Speaking to GameIndustry, SEGA Europe boss John Clark says that Yakuza has found its footing here in the West because it doesn't shy away from its Japanese roots.
"We're not turning every Yakuza title into an open-world Yakuza game. That's not what's happening," Clark states. "We're representing the Japanese IP, the Japanese road map, the Japanese content to the relevant audience within the West. And whether there's a need to change that or not, I don't know. But it seems to be successful and it seems to be working." In other words, fans of Japanese games and Japan in general like Yakuza because... Well, because it's so Japanese.
We remember a time not all that long ago when Japanese publishers were desperate to crack the western video game market, pushing titles that borrowed heavily from existing western game design. To some extent, the incredibly divisive Final Fantasy XIII was a product of that mentality, as was the downright terrible Quantum Theory.
As such, it's great to see a series like Yakuza grow in popularity outside of its homeland. Even better is that SEGA seems to understand why it's catching on. Let's keep it going.