The Yakuza series has always been popular in Japan, but now it is growing more popular in the West too. While it is only now venturing on to PC, first with Yakuza 0 and soon possibly with Yakuza 6, the series has traditionally always resolutely been exclusive to Sony PlayStation platforms — PS2, PS3, PSP, PS Vita, and PS4. Why has the series never been ported to Microsoft or Nintendo platforms? It’s simple: because they didn’t want it.
Speaking with Edge magazine (via Destructoid), Sega CCO Toshihiro Nagoshi said that all of the console platform holders were offered Yakuza when it started, but neither Microsoft or Nintendo wanted it — only Sony did, which is why the series is still exclusive. According to Nagoshi, “they didn’t understand the reason why I created it.” Apparently, now the series is getting popular, both Microsoft and Nintendo want Yakuza, but the series remains one of the few third-party games still remaining loyal to one platform.
“Back then they said ‘No we don’t want it.'” said Nagoshi. “Now they say, ‘We want it!'”
Even ignoring platforms, Nagoshi said that he also had to convince a lot of people within Sega to get the project green-lit. They deliberately narrowed their audience in order to make the game easier to make.
“First, I abandoned the idea of selling worldwide,” he said. “Next, I decided I wouldn’t mind if female players didn’t like the game; then that no children were allowed. When I decided all that, the only target left was the Japanese male.”
He didn’t get approval from Sega at first, especially as the publisher was, at the time, very close to bankruptcy. Instead, as Sega prepared to merge with Sammy, Nagoshi went over Sega and pitched Yakuza to the new owner.
“Professionally, this was highly irregular and quite wrong,” he said. “But I knew if the owner said ‘yes,’ it would be good for the entire company… I got his approval, but our CEO was really mad about it!”
Fortunately Yakuza 6 is now pretty popular in the West too, so hopefully his boss has forgiven him by now.