Yes, you can drive forklifts in Shenmue 3 - if gamers cough up enough cash.
Shenmue 3 looks to be actually happening, but in order for creator Yu Suzuki to achieve his full vision he needs a lot of support from crowdfunding backers.
In the days since Shenmue 3's Kickstarter campaign launched during Sony's E3 2015 presentation, several pieces of information have come to light giving us a better idea of the project's budget and probable scope.
The most important one comes from a Reddit AMA in which Suzuki sets a breathtaking goal for his crowdfunding efforts.
"I will say this: if we reach the $5 million mark, one of the things I really want to do with Shenmue 3 will become a reality," he said.
Currently, the Shenmue 3 campaign lists stretch goals up to $5 million, including expansion on locations in game, whole new systems, mini-games and more - but that's not all Suzuiki hopes to achieve.
"At $10 million, it will truly have the features of an open world," Suzuki added.
As for what these features might be, Suzuki said later, unannounced stretch goals will include more side-activities.
"There will be part time jobs that will be indicative of those you would find in China. In the stretch goals there will also be the old favorites," he said, and when asked about forklifts in particular, added "Look for it in the Stretch Goals."
$10 million isn't impossible, especially given Shenmue 3's record-breaking start, but it is a huge ask.
Only three projects have ever broken the milestone, according to Kickstarter. Still, six of the top 20 most-funded Kickstarters have been games, and Shenmue 3 itself is currently the 14th most-funded campaign. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is currently the top performer in the games category with $5.5 million.
Suzuki has said he hasn't made up his mind regarding opening non-Kickstarter crowdfunding options, but he'd do well to consider it; Star Citizen has raked in over $80 million through crowdfunding, pre-orders and pre-sale of add-on content.
Who else is paying for Shenmue 3?
That's a lot of pressure to place on crowdfunding backers, but pledges aren't the only source of finance for the project. Last week we learned Sony is chipping in to fund Shenmue 3, but apart from acknowledgement that the platform holder isn't the only investor, we didn't get many details.
According to Shenmue 3 co-producer and Shibuya Productions CEO Cedric Biscay, Sony is partially financing the PS4 version of the game, and contributing to marketing.
@FullReactiveEye SONY will not get any money from the KS, they will help to finance the PS4 version and will also help for advertisement.
— Cedric Biscay (@CedricBiscay) June 20, 2015
We haven't seen the original scan and cannot verify this information, but according to an interview translation by NeoGAF, Suzuki said crowdfunding will provide the primary funding, and that that raising $2 million from Kickstarter was the bare minimum needed for the game to exist. (At $2 million, it would be more of a story experience than a fully playable open-world game, he explained.)
The issue of exactly who is paying for Shenmue 3 still isn't settled completely, as Suzuki's comments are not incompatible with third-party investment scaled to crowdfunding; a common tactic. After all, it seems pretty ludicrous that Shenmue 3 could be made for $10 million when the first Shenmue famously cost $47 million - before marketing.
Suzuki has refused to comment on who else is contributing to the project and how much they'll be shoving in the pot.
"I really can't get into that, but there are other sources of funding that will be put together with the Kickstarter," he told Polygon.
"I can't get into specifics, but for right now I just want to keep the comment that yes, I have funding sources outside Kickstarter that I collected through my company YS Net, and that will combine with the Kickstarter for this project."
This has raised hackles among crowdfunding detractors; if backers mistakenly believe their pledges are directly financing the game, they may be encouraged to pledge higher amounts than they might otherwise put aside for a standard pre-order.
Anyway. Shenmue 3. According to interviews translated by ShenmueDojo, Suzuki hopes Nielo can deliver on Shenmue 3 by the end of 2017. It's being built on Unreal Engine 4, and will recycle many assets from the first two games thanks to Sega's co-operation.
The full Reddit AMA linked above contains various comments on features and scope, Suzuki's hopes for an eventual Shenmue 4, and more. Take a squizz if you're a fan, for sure.
Image from Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing.