A few days ago, SEGA announced that Shenmue 1 & 2 would be coming to Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC later this year. As someone who bought a Dreamcast in 2000, it was a console that featured some of my favorite games; Sonic Adventure 2, Jet Grind Radio (Jet Set Radio everywhere else), and of course, Shenmue. When Sony and SEGA revealed Shenmue 3 at the 2015 Sony E3 press conference, I was ecstatic. For 13 years, I waited for a conclusion to Ryo Hazuki’s journey. Having confirmation that this would become a reality was the most important announcement to come out of E3 2015. Seeing that the game wouldn’t come to Xbox One was sad, but as someone who owns all of the main consoles, that wasn’t an issue. The announcement of Shenmue 1 & 2, while exciting, got me thinking; why is it even coming to Xbox One in the first place?
I have a long history when the Shenmue series. When I was younger, my family would frequent the local Hollywood Video to rent movies and games each weekend. One day, I stumbled across the box art to a new game called Shenmue. Like the naïve 11 year old I was, I expected Shenmue to be a more traditional experience, but SEGA’s classic was anything but. In 2000, Shenmue was a revolutionary game that featured early instances of quick time events, an intuitive combat system, a city that followed an actual schedule, and a huge open-world to explore. The game intrigued me from the opening moments, and I found myself renting it every weekend that the store had a copy. I loved Shenmue so much, that one of the first games I purchased for the original Xbox was Shenmue 2, a huge factor in me adopting the Xbox platform in the first place.
It goes without saying that the announcement for Shenmue 1 & 2 is something special to me. The original is a game that helped define my gaming career and introduced me to something outside of what I was used to. I’ll gladly play Shenmue 3 on PlayStation 4 or PC, but I feel like SEGA is dangling that game in the faces of Xbox fans. I completely understand the collection coming to PC and PlayStation 4. Both platforms will be getting Shenmue 3 on launch, and the other installments have never been available on them before. It makes sense that SEGA wants PlayStation 4 and PC owners to familiarize themselves with the Shenmue franchise before the highly anticipated third game finally launches. It’s a move that I fully support.
What I don’t understand is, why taunt Xbox fans with a collection when the userbase will be unable to finish the trilogy? Is the company trying to see how many copies Shenmue 1 & 2 will sell before considering bringing Shenmue 3 to Xbox One? Is there a timed-exclusivity deal between Sony and SEGA? These are things that will not be answered anytime soon, but I don’t think SEGA would bring the first two games to the Xbox platform without a plan to release the third. Business deals are complicated, but locking Shenmue 3 away from Xbox One owners seems weird, especially since the second game was released exclusively for Xbox. Clearly, fans of the brand have nostalgia for the series, and it would be great to have the full franchise on the One.
This generation has been an uphill battle for Xbox One. From the console’s rocky introduction, multiple policy changes (DRM, Kinect being bundled with the console) and the lack of many notable exclusives, Xbox One has been working to right the wrongs of its early days. If you look at the PlayStation 4 (and Switch catalog), there are a bunch of video games that launch on those two consoles and not Xbox One. Some examples are Disgaea 5: Complete, I Am Setsuna, as well as the upcoming Dragon Quest XI, and SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy. As someone who loves Japanese video games, it’s upsetting when those games don’t come to Microsoft’s console. While Xbox One doesn’t sell well in Japan, that doesn’t mean that people in other countries don’t have the console.
Shenmue 3‘s chances on Xbox One seem slim, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. “Voting with your wallet” is very important when it comes to Shenmue 1 & 2. If Xbox One owners don’t go out and support this collection at launch, don’t expect SEGA to release the newest installment on your preferred console. Fans; be happy that Shenmue 1 & 2 exists. It’s a game I never thought would make another appearance on the market. But I plead for you to do your part and buy the game if you’re interested. Don’t wait for a sale, try to buy it on day one. Shenmue 3 is still an uncertainty on Xbox One, but if we are vocal and show enough interest, there’s a chance Ryo Hazuki’s latest adventure could see the light of day on Xbox One after all.