Although Sega has admitted that the games are ultimately for a niche market, the Yakuza series has managed to stick around for years and create a lot of enthusiastic fans. The series was trapped on consoles until PC ports started appearing just a couple of years ago, launching to great reviews—just take a look at our Yakuza 6 review. And now we know the impact of finally bringing Yakuza to PC, or at least how many copies were sold.
Sega recently held a management meeting which revealed Yakuza's PC sales numbers. Since it started releasing the Yakuza PC ports in 2019, there have been a total of 2.8 million units of the series sold worldwide. Niche is a relative word for Sega, I suppose.
We reported back in 2020 that the game series had reached 14 million sales on all platforms. Obviously there will have been an increase in that figure since then, but this new report doesn’t mention how the Yakuza games are performing as a whole. What the report does go into, however, is the positive effect of releasing games globally rather than staggering Japanese and Western releases. Global launches are obviously preferred for Western audiences as we've historically received games months or even years after the Japanese release. But that might be about to change.
Releasing Yakuza spin-off Lost Judgment in the West at the same time as Japan saw a 76% increase in its predecessor's sales in Western countries. Previously, Sega released the Western version at a later date—this boom in sales will hopefully convince it to keep launching these games globally.
Unfortunately, Sega has already broken our hearts by telling us that it has no plans to release 2021’s Lost Judgment on PC. Both games in the spin-off series reviewed well and we’re keeping our fingers crossed that the PC Yakuza sales push Sega to consider porting the Judgment games over too.
What remains unclear is what the future of the Yakuza games look like long-term. Toshihiro Nagoshi and Daisuke Sato, two of the masterminds behind the games, left Sega and Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio late last year. Nagoshi's farewell message says the studio, upon their departure, will “enhance the foundation” they laid and “deliver great games to the world”. The Yakuza series will continue as turn-based games but other than that, but otherwise we're still waiting to see where it goes next.