So is Shenmue NOT mass market?

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So is Shenmue NOT mass market?

Postby Shibiryo » Wed Sep 30, 2015 11:55 am

What I've always wondered is why this game is actually quite niche (not niche exactly). Nobody really cares about Shenmue the way we do and's hard to get new fans. Like all scientific things, there's a reason but its so unknown to us. If only we were alot bigger and had so many youngsters jizzing up Shenmue then mabye we'd get some big bucks for Yu but games have without a doubt changed so then the little things get pushed aside. What I'm really talking about here is Shenmue (as a whole)and why the hell it's always been small in popularity and the mass audience/media/shenmue haters whatever you wanna call it keep messing us up? Is it because it imitates other games around or is it simply because its like nothing else and the fans are resilient as fuck?
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Re: Why is Shenmue niche?

Postby Zoltor » Wed Sep 30, 2015 12:04 pm

Shibiryo wrote: What I've always wondered is why this game is actually so niche. Nobody really cares about Shenmue the way we do and's hard to get new fans. Like all scientific things, there's a reason but its so unknown to us. If only we were alot bigger and had so many youngsters jizzing up Shenmue then mabye we'd get some big bucks for Yu but games have without a doubt changed so then the little things get pushed aside. What I'm really talking about here is Shenmue (as a whole)and why the hell it's always been small in popularity and the mass audience/media/shenmue haters whatever you wanna call it keep messing us up? Is it because it imitates other games around or is it simply because its like nothing else and the fans are resilient as fuck?



Well the fact you would need to be like 27 years old, to have been old enough to even play either of the Shenmue games back in the day, sure doesn't help matters any.

The 2nd game Isn't really that niche(not "as" niche as the 1st game anyway, It's still a pure adventure game, so there's that), but the first game is very slow paced, and when you want to do story, it requires you to wait, there's no wait mechanic in the first game.

Nevermind the fact pure adventure games require a certain amount of mental development, to enjoy the gameplay.
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Re: Why is Shenmue niche?

Postby Outlawstar98 » Wed Sep 30, 2015 12:32 pm

I think of Sega released the HD's it may drive more people to enjoy the series. But since it is not easy to play the originals it has been put on the back burner of most people who even heard of the game. So lets just hope Sega comes out with the HD to let younger people enjoy the game and share with friends. If it was on Steam I would buy a few and share them!
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Re: Why is Shenmue niche?

Postby south carmain » Wed Sep 30, 2015 12:47 pm

I wouldn't call it niche. It's somewhere in the middle in terms of popularity which was an issue due to its huge budget and expectations at the time.

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Re: Why is Shenmue niche?

Postby Shibiryo » Wed Sep 30, 2015 12:55 pm

south carmain wrote: I wouldn't call it niche. It's somewhere in the middle in terms of popularity which was an issue due to its huge budget and expectations at the time.

I see. It is very likely that it's popularity is in the middle because there sure was a lot of notice during the E3 reveal. Shenmue 3 shouldn't get any shit towards it because it has a low budget. Whatever the outcome may be in terms of sales, won't matter this time.
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Re: Why is Shenmue niche?

Postby Gen » Wed Sep 30, 2015 12:55 pm

It's often called a niche title, even by people like Gio Corsi. I don't really agree with this. It was never the intention that it was going to be made for a niche audience. Shenmue was made from the beginning as a game for a broad audience including 'casual' gamers. It was going to be the killer app for the Dreamcast, and that's why Sega put so much money into the development. It was not the commercial success Sega had hoped for, but that's different from a niche title I think. Shenmue's fate is closely linked to that of the Dreamcast and I think it could have been alot more successful if that console had been more popular and had not been discontinued so early.

At the same time, Shenmue was so revolutionary and experimental that it may not have reached mainstream success, even with a more successful Dreamcast. Sadly I think the game was so ahead of its time, alot of people, icluding game critics didn't 'get' what it was about and was more than happy to go back to their JRPGs. But it's difficult to speculate about. We should be lucky it was Yu Suzuki who was entrusted with making this 'killer title' and that he was so daring when making this game.

Also, remember that quality and popularity/commercial success doesn't allways go hand in hand. As a matter of fact, quite often they don't. This is true with any form of art/expression, films. music etc.
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Re: So is Shenmue NOT mass market?

Postby Yokosuka » Wed Sep 30, 2015 3:05 pm

People tend to classify Shenmue as a niche game because of main two things : the gameplay and the consideration that the franchise was a flop. Without one of these two things, I'm 99% sure no one today would dare this statement.

But we know that Shenmue I sold very well. We know that the Shenmue II success was mission impossible even with Final Fantasy or Counter Strike as a title name.
We know that slow pace/contemplative gameplay can be appreciated by the mass (point & click golden era, FPS/point & click, sandboxes open worlds where you do nothing the most of the time, some stealth games).

However it's true that Shenmue cannot be played by everyone. Shenmue had excellent reviews but half of the reviewers were personally divided and you can find easily similar statements through the net. But which genre is really affordable for everyone ? Racing games, FPS, BTA, action games, GTA, rpg, all these genres can be boring according the player you are.

Then I would add that, unlike more classic games, you don't have to be a gamer to enjoy Shenmue : the mechanics are easily understandable and the themes are all open minded. If you're tired of the typical gunfights fest or brainless button smashing in video games, Shenmue is perfect for you.

It's funny to see Shenmue is somehow the remake of Virtua Fighter. Yu wanted to create a fighting game with a simple and very intuitive gameplay. Ten years later, Virtua Fighter is viewed as the most technical 3D VS fighting franchise and the perfect anti-casual game. Yu felt himself a little ashamed in spite of his franchise being praised by all the critics and the players. Remember the Yu's big smile at this child in the Making of Shenmue. He hates niche gaming, it's like discrimination for him.

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Re: So is Shenmue NOT mass market?

Postby punkmanced » Wed Sep 30, 2015 3:44 pm

It’s considered niche since it failed to sell enough copies (S1 underperformed, while S2 didn’t sell d*ck), yet still maintains a rabid fanbase decade(s) later.

The gameplay is essentially a martial arts detective story with a few QTE action sequences. Had it been marketed as such, the outcome would most likely have been different, and everyone would now be unanimously praising the series’ revolutionary mechanics, and inducting it in some Hall of Fame somewhere.

TL;DR:
Boneheaded marketing f*cks sh*t up.
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Re: So is Shenmue NOT mass market?

Postby Chaikilla » Wed Sep 30, 2015 6:06 pm

10.6 Million dreamcasts sold worldwide, an estimated 1.2m copies of Shenmue 1 were sold. That's a good conversion rate. The dreamcast was in its coffin by the time Shenmue 2 was released on the dc (late 2001 in Europe, no dc release of s2 in NA) the system was dead and buried. I was a hardcore fan of the series after Shenmue 1 and I can remember only coming across finding a copy of 2 in store by chance, I didn't even know the game was out at the time. There were no advertisements that I could remember.

When Shenmue 2 came out on the Xbox a year later, again, there was very little advertisement of the game and Europeans had no real reason to re-purchase the game if they had already bought it on dreamcast a year earlier. Then you have to take into account that the original Xbox wasn't selling particularly well at the time itself. Another crucial error was the decision to not re-release Shenmue along with Shenmue 2 on the Xbox, I'd assume that this isolated many potential newcomers to the series.

I honestly think that the reason the Shenmue series didn't become mass market was largely down to the games being on consoles that sold poorly at the time. Along with some bad marketing decisions.

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Re: So is Shenmue NOT mass market?

Postby Zoltor » Wed Sep 30, 2015 6:34 pm

Chaikilla wrote: 10.6 Million dreamcasts sold worldwide, an estimated 1.2m copies of Shenmue 1 were sold. That's a good conversion rate. The dreamcast was in its coffin by the time Shenmue 2 was released on the dc (late 2001 in Europe, no dc release of s2 in NA) the system was dead and buried. I was a hardcore fan of the series after Shenmue 1 and I can remember only coming across finding a copy of 2 in store by chance, I didn't even know the game was out at the time. There were no advertisements that I could remember.

When Shenmue 2 came out on the Xbox a year later, again, there was very little advertisement of the game and Europeans had no real reason to re-purchase the game if they had already bought it on dreamcast a year earlier. Then you have to take into account that the original Xbox wasn't selling particularly well at the time itself. Another crucial error was the decision to not re-release Shenmue along with Shenmue 2 on the Xbox, I'd assume that this isolated many potential newcomers to the series.

I honestly think that the reason the Shenmue series didn't become mass market was largely down to the games being on consoles that sold poorly at the time. Along with some bad marketing decisions.


Actually if you consider the fact, that Japan wasn't, nor will it ever be a good market for the Shenmue Saga, and thus ignore them all together, Shenmue 1 did even better then what you're pointing out.

It comes down to, that 1 out of every 4 DC owners outside of Japan, owned Shenmue 1, which means it did amazingly well. To put that into perspective, Shenmue 1 is also the 4th or 5th best selling game for the DC(when the games that are ahead, are the likes of Sonic Adventure, MvC 2, and Soul Calibur, that's an amazing feat to say the least), so yea the first game sold great.

The 2nd game was sadly doomed to fail though(even though It's actually more mainstream then the first game, but also overall better as well), between no advertising, and SEGA letting Peter Moore manipulate them, Shenmue 2 never stood a chance back when it was released. Then you have the fact neither game was ever rereleased in any form(not even digital only), and well there you have it.
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Re: So is Shenmue NOT mass market?

Postby Yokosuka » Wed Sep 30, 2015 6:59 pm

Sega also stopped the production of consoles several months before the Shenmue II release. A lot of sellers no longer offered Dreamcast products on their shelves or dedicated them just a tiny space in Europe. A store invaded by PS2 and PS1 boxes was way more lucrative at this time.
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Re: So is Shenmue NOT mass market?

Postby shredingskin » Thu Oct 01, 2015 1:03 am

Shenmue is a difficult to promote game. It was kinda easy to market as the "RPG that does what other rpgs don't do" at the time, when SEGA was the bad guy trying to "rebel".

I think the game today is almost more important today, when we have MGSV cut in nonsense, when GTAV is a freedom to not do anything for whatever, where WRPG are fullblown spaces for everything to happen but stories just don't give a damn (or we), where 100+ hours seems like an achievement instead of being a cause.

You have walking narrators, you have tutorials for shit that no one cares, you have killing because you have to, you have pick an object because, and in most cases "look this system.

But it's ironic in Shenmue's case, the sequel deal, where they can just "more of the same" while money keeps coming.

So yeah, Shenmue is not an easy to market game.
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Re: So is Shenmue NOT mass market?

Postby Kiske » Thu Oct 01, 2015 4:43 am

Chaikilla wrote: 10.6 Million dreamcasts sold worldwide, an estimated 1.2m copies of Shenmue 1 were sold. That's a good conversion rate. The dreamcast was in its coffin by the time Shenmue 2 was released on the dc (late 2001 in Europe, no dc release of s2 in NA) the system was dead and buried. I was a hardcore fan of the series after Shenmue 1 and I can remember only coming across finding a copy of 2 in store by chance, I didn't even know the game was out at the time. There were no advertisements that I could remember.

When Shenmue 2 came out on the Xbox a year later, again, there was very little advertisement of the game and Europeans had no real reason to re-purchase the game if they had already bought it on dreamcast a year earlier. Then you have to take into account that the original Xbox wasn't selling particularly well at the time itself. Another crucial error was the decision to not re-release Shenmue along with Shenmue 2 on the Xbox, I'd assume that this isolated many potential newcomers to the series.

I honestly think that the reason the Shenmue series didn't become mass market was largely down to the games being on consoles that sold poorly at the time. Along with some bad marketing decisions.


I pretty much agree with all you've said.

I remember back then when I heard about Shenmue for the first time in a french gaming magazine called "Joystick" (not much internet gaming sites back in 1999) The reception in the gaming industrie was more than positive.

That was also a "console war" period in between SEGA and Sony. A fight to death should I say.
In Switzerland, the Dreamcast was struggling but slowly starting to sell decently compared to the rival Playstation 2.
When I bought Shenmue II at the end of november 2001, the production of the last SEGA console was already over since end of march 2001. I knew I was about to play one, if not the last "Kolossal" on my beloved console.

It's a shame that Shenmue II hasn't been released on Dreamcast in the US and most of all, it's a shame MS didn't give a better support to the game.

I'm pretty sure that in other circumstances, Shenmue would have reached the public success it deserves as one of the greatest videogame ever made. Unfortunately, the fate of this saga is somewhat cursed. SEGA should have made a deal with MS or Sony and should have made the whole serie exclusive to one console. Shenmue 3 should have been released a few years only after the second game, possibly in a special edition including the first two episodes. But it's like some people at SEGA consider Shenmue guilty for the Dreamcast failure...
Anyway, if everything goes well, the wait will be over after 16 (!) years.

Shenmue is cult and part of gaming history but still didn't get the public praise and success it deserves. Same goes for Suzuki San. If there is a "rebirth" time for the Serie, then the time is now and SEGA has to make Shenmue HD Collection real. I don't care how they do it, but they have to. It's the last chance for Shenmue.
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Re: So is Shenmue NOT mass market?

Postby alexh86 » Thu Oct 01, 2015 9:44 am

It's niche now because the only people still interested are nut cases like us who've been chasing a phantom game for 14 years! :D

Back when the Dreamcast came out, Sega sold a ton of consoles in the early days. Lots of people were looking forward to Shenmue and the hype was off the charts. Shenmue I sold over 1m copies, which is good for any game but especially good when you consider only 10m or 15m consoles sold in total through the lifespan of the system. Of course, that wasn't nearly enough to recoup the investment but people bought Shenmue. Shenmue II is a different story because the Dreamcast was largely dead in the west when it was coming out and they also didn't release in North America, which is the biggest region by population. A lot of people don't remember it now because they played a little bit of Shenmue on the Dreamcast and then moved on from Sega. IMO, the story really picks up and gets good in Shenmue II so if more people had played that game, we might have had more of a demand over the years.
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Re: So is Shenmue NOT mass market?

Postby Himuro » Thu Oct 01, 2015 11:46 am

I'm going to explain something from an American perspective.

Over in Europe, alternative games like adventure games and stuff had already taken hold. Stuff like Broken Sword were immensely popular in Europe. So Europeans tend to typically be more open to different kinds of gaming styles.

That's really different here in America. In America, we are pretty much dead set on action or games that feature immediately apparent gratification.

Shenmue was different. It's a game that you take your time playing, it's a game that you let stew, and let it become a part of you. It's similar to games like Animal Crossing in that regard, in that you don't rush it. You take your time and enjoy it.

I think that, back then, gaming, at least in America, mostly couldn't understand or get the appeal of a game like Shenmue where you work a part time job, and can't fight people at any time. But I think things are different now and there's a lot of alternative games going, including the aforementioned Animal Crossing, that could make III a success. I also think there's something about different audiences. Nintendo fans for instance, are willing and more open to more experimental gaming styles than the typical gamer, and I think that if Shenmue I and II were on Gamecube, they could could have found success there rather than Xbox.

I feel putting Shenmue II on Xbox was a huge mistake.

I also think that despite the intention of being mass market, Shenmue I and II was far too ahead of its time to become that.

But I think with the right push and the right audience, it can find its market and audience now. Both Sony and PC gaming fans have a thing for alternative games. I think that if YSnet can gather the funds, and if it can run it, they should put III on Nintendo's NX as well.

So when discussing whether Shenmue is mass market or not, I think it really depends on the territory as well as potential audience. Xbox, I would say there, Shenmue is niche. On Nintendo platform, I'd say it's probably mass market. In America, there's POTENTIAL for mass market but it's not intrinsically mass market. In Europe, Shenmue is definitely capable of being mass market if it isn't that already. China, it's mass market for sure. Japan? :-k No, I don't think so. Definitely niche there. It's a loaded question, because different territories and different systems have different tastes.

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