Sega scored a major victory in their casting of Takuya Kimura in the lead role of Takayuki Yagami for their game Judgment. While the series has been known for pulling real actors for roles for years, with Kimura they had a far bigger star in the public eye on Japan, and with also comes talent agent power. As it turns out, that last point might be the downfall of the Yakuza Spin-off series.
Weekly publication Nikkan Taishu wrote an article in which an entertainment industry insider in Japan spoke about the upcoming Lost Judgement from RGG Studios and SEGA. According to him, the upcoming sequel will be the last title to release in the series. As he put it:
Because those on the side of the game developer and those on the side of [Kimura’s talent agency] Johnny’s are said to have been unable to reach an agreement regarding the platforms to sell the game.
Basically, the talent agency that manages Kimura, does not like the PC platform. The first game was released for the PlayStation 4, but was later ported to both the Xbox, PS 5, and the Stadia system. This upcoming game will receive a broader release on PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X/S, and Xbox One. While a spokesman said in an interview with PC Gamer “The game is being announced for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, Sega has no plans to bring Lost Judgment to PC at this time,” the game has been rumored for PC release.
At this point in time, it would feel odd for Sega to not be aiming at a PC release close to the launch of the game across other platforms. While games in the series have seen delayed releases to PC, Yakuza: Like A Dragon was the first to see a simultaneous release. As this report suggests, players hoping the game will come to PC have been asking the wrong people for the port.
Johnny’s, the entertainment label, manages some of the biggest actors and boy bands in Japan. Traditionally the company has been gun shy when it comes to the internet, even refusing photos from conferences of their talents to be posted online. They also attempt to prevent their talent from using social media. Since the agency has ultimate control over the likeness of their talent, allowing that to be released on an open platform most likely feels to the company like they are giving that up. SEGA, who views PC as vital to their business moving forward, obviously will not concede this point.
Kimura was a member of the boy band Smap! which was signed to Johnny’s earlier. This band imploded after several members of the band left Johnny’s and as it stands now Kimura is the only member still signed by the studio. There is some good news for fans as Kimura is not only a massive gamer, he loved working on the Judgment series and wants to continue. In the past, he has been afforded special treatment for the industry due to his stardom, most noticeable not being forced to hide the fact he was married with a child.
So this brings us to what we can expect in the future. As stated, if any talent can convince his agency to go against its base instinct it is Kimura. Even if he cannot, the franchise could continue with another actor in its lead, as actors have been shifted in and out before. The other option is to end the Judgment franchise and create a new spin-off with a more amicable agency attached. Whatever occurs, it is doubtful that we will see the end of Yakuza spin-offs due to this.
Lost Judgment is set to release globally on September 24th, 2021. It will be available for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and Xbox One.