While many gamers are excited for Shenmue 3, they won't get their hands on the long-awaited sequel anytime soon. The developers say that even the trial version for Kickstarter backers is years away.
The release window was revealed during a Q&A with director Yu Suzuki on Twitch:
The Trial version will require many of the basic systems to be functional first, so it will be released in the latter half of the development process. I would most likely be looking sometime after we get into 2017.
Kickstarter backs will be getting a headstart on everyone else, though. The developers currently list the expected release date for the full game as December 2017. So yeah, don't expect Shenmue 4 anytime soon.
The team at Ys Net may have something else to tide over fans besides a trial version, though. They state in the Q&A that they're hoping to release HD updates of Shenmue and Shenmue 2 before the third game's release. That's not a sure thing, though, because they were published by Sega.
I personally would like to see remastered versions come out before Shenmue 3, so fans can really get to know the story and enjoy 3 even more. I really hope this could happen. The rights to Shenmue 1 & 2 belong to Sega, so I am not in a position to comment on it. However I would like to talk to them about it.
I'd think that Sega would be willing to greenlight remakes. While they've moved away from console development and they're not involved with Shenmue 3, I don't think they'll turn down easy profits from Shenmue HD and Shenmue 2 HD. After all, the third game is essentially free marketing for those remakes. There's bound to be more demand from nostalgic fans or gamers looking to check out the series they missed out on the first time around. A report from 3 years back suggested that Sega was already developing them.
Shenmue 3, in development for PS4 and PC, continues the story of Ryo Hazuki. He has arrived in China to find his father's killer. Along with his new companion, Shenhua, he'll find out more about his father's past and potentially defeat Lan Di once and for all.
The Kickstarter campaign hits its initial goal of $2 million within hours. The fundraising total has since crept up to $3.7 million. After the Kickstarter campaign was launched, Ys Net also revealed that Sony will be funding the game as well:
No, we cannot make an open world game for $2 million. Shenmue will be produced using both the funds raised from the Kickstarter and through other funding sources already secured by Ys Net Inc.
With Shenmue 3's budget being that high, it's not surprising that the game's going to have a lengthy development as well. See you in 2017, Ryo.