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Shenmue 3 has reportedly begun shipping to backers of the game’s Kickstarter campaign.
The long-awaited RPG isn’t officially due to release until November 19, although many backers of the game’s crowd-funding campaign have reported their physical copies being dispatched.
[UPDATE: The Shenmue 3 review embargo will now lift on the game’s launch day, November 19.]
Some stores have even broken the game’s street date, according to images posted on Twitter.
Set for release on PS4 and PC, Shenmue III 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. It is published by Deep Silver.
The game’s release marks the end of a near-20-year wait for the third instalment in the series, following the release of Shenmue 2 for Dreamcast and Xbox in 2001.
Shenmue 3 was first announced during Sony‘s E3 2015 press conference, during which it was stated the game would release in December 2017.
The game suffered numerous delays since then, with the proposed release date moving back to the end of 2018, then early 2019, then August 2019.
While Shenmue was originally planned to span a series of game releases, the third entry was essentially scrapped after Shenmue II sold poorly, leaving fans in limbo until Shenmue 3’s surprise announcement in 2015.
In an interview published in August, Ys Net’s Yu Suzuki told VGC he hopes to one day complete the Shenmue saga, which by the end of the third game will be less than halfway through its epic revenge story.
However, the designer also said the future of the series will be more dependent on which partners he can secure.
“If Shenmue 3 sells well it will make things easier [with Shenmue 4],” he said. “But I think it will rely more on what kind of partners we will be able to secure.”
In the same interview, the veteran Sega designer suggested he could be in discussions to return to his classic series Virtua Fighter and Out Run.