A much smaller team created Shenmue 3 than the ones that worked on its Dreamcast predecessors, analysis of the latest title’s credits reveals.
Further analysis suggests around 10 people worked on both the new game and one of the originals, and around six people worked on all three projects.
Sega famously formed a team of over 300 people for 1999’s Shenmue, a development team and budget that was said to be the largest ever for a video game at the time. Around 250 worked on its sequel, which was released for Dreamcast and Xbox in 2001 and 2002 respectively.
In comparison, 2019’s Shenmue 3 was made by a core team of around 75 people, according to its staff credits, with around 100 additional art and QA roles outsourced to external companies. None of the staff figures include voice casts.
Of the 75 people at core developer YSnet, only 10 worked on either of Shenmue’s previous instalments, analysis suggests.
Those that did held writing, direction or concept positions on the games, including original writer and director Yu Suzuki, second director Keiji Okayasu, scenario director Takao Yotsuji and writer Junichi Yoshida.
The original Shenmue’s main 2D concept and 3D design artists, Kenji Miyawaki and Hideki Kawabata, also worked on Shenmue 3.
The rest of the game’s staff are a mix of individuals from across the Japanese development scene. Significantly, Shenmue 3’s lead environment artist worked on Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and the game’s sound director is a 30-year veteran of titles such as Streets of Rage (1991), Virtua Fighter (1993) and Lumines (2004).
Shenmue 3 is the highest funded video game in Kickstarter history, having raised over $6.3 million from 69,320 backers to help bring the project to life.
The game’s release today marks the end of a near-20-year wait for the third instalment in the series.
- Related: ‘Game credits are still a broken mess‘
Speaking to Red Bull in 2016, Suzuki said assembling the Shenmue 3 development team was made more difficult by the decline in popularity of open-world console games in Japan.
“Smartphones have become the mainstream in the Japanese gaming market today, creating an environment where the technology developed for consoles is often underused,” he said.
“Also, it is becoming difficult to secure the talent necessary to make such games, but thankfully, we have managed to gather a very promising team for Shenmue III.”
The Shenmue 3 core development team
(* = Worked on Shenmue / ** = Worked on Shenmue 2)
Project advisory committee
Partnership alliance officer
Lead: Junichi Yoshida*/**
Lead: Aki Tsuchie
Eric Layton Bergen
Character concept artists
Lead: Hideki Kawabata*
Line manager: Masataka Aochi
Lead: Mitsumasa Okamoto
Lead: Hideyuki Ooigawa
Lead: Yugo Sumi
Lead: Tsubasa Waga
Supervising: Takao Yotsuji*/**