Shenmue 3, which was released in 2019, was the long-awaited sequel to the classic RPG Shenmue 2, with only a small 18 year gap between the two games. Leading up to its release, it gained 70,000 Kickstarter backers, but had a lackluster debut, selling just 18,000 copies in Japan during its launch first week. And Shenmue 3's publisher recently (opens in new tab) called it a "core niche" game that isn't meant for mass-market.
Suzuki, the series' creator, spoke to IGN Japan about his confidence that a Shenmue 4 will happen, but will likely appeal to a much broader audience. “With Shenmue 3 I created a game for the fans, but if I have the opportunity to make Shenmue 4 – and I think I will – I know how to satisfy casual users, so I want to make a game that everyone can be satisfied with,” he says.
“With Shenmue 3, I really responded to the fans’ voices, so I wasn’t necessarily thinking about making any money. But since I’m running a company, I have to think about what can sell if I continue. I’ve been seriously talking about it over and over again.”
In terms of features that would help Shenmue 4 have more broad appeal, Suzuki mentioned a few things, including quest markers, better fast travel options, and the option to time-skip, as well as a more legible user interface.
“I would like to deliver a smoother experience overall to those who want to progress more quickly through the story," Suzuki told IGN Japan. "If the amount of content is the same as that of Shenmue 3, then players would be able to proceed at about 1.5 times the speed.”
Shenmue 4 isn't confirmed, but here are the best upcoming games of 2020 (opens in new tab).