Interview: Biscay discusses Shenmue III’s development, fan reactions
Following Shenmue III‘s announcement at this year’s E3, we could not believe that the game was actually becoming a reality. Shenmue III‘s Kickstarter shattered all kinds of records and brought Yu Suzuki’s masterpiece back into the spotlight.
Cedric Biscay’s company, Shibuya Productions, was an integral part in making this all happen, so we thought it would be great to interview Mr. Biscay about Shenmue III‘s progress.
SN: Thank you for taking the time to talk with us, Mr. Biscay! How are you doing?
Biscay: I am fine, thank you. Always my pleasure to share some info with the SEGA fans !
SN: You are the President of Shibuya Productions and the founder of MAGIC in Monaco. Why don’t you tell the audience a little bit about both organizations?
Biscay: Shibuya Productions is a company based in Monaco, and our job is to produce animation and video games. Our first big announcement was Astroboy Reboot, a new TV animation series featuring the famous character from Japan. I guess you are aware about the second big announcement 😉
Beside those two famous projects, Our TV series Petz Club is one of the biggest successes for TV animation series in France.
The Monaco Anime Game International Conferences “MAGIC” is a VIP event focused on manga, comics, animation and video games. The visitors can meet famous creators such as Buichi Terasawa or Yu Suzuki during signature sessions, round tables and conferences. We also have an amazing video games creator contest where the winner can get 100,000 € to finalize his or her game.
Last but not least, our international cosplay contest permits to the best cosplayers to win a trip to the Atlanta Dragoncon. This year, we had famous video games guests such as Yuji Naka, Shinji Hashimoto, Yoshitaka Amano, Viktor Kalvachev, Eric Chahi and Frederick Raynal.
It’s a free entrance event (you need to register first). We do not charge anyone for autographs or pictures with guests.
SN: You are also the co-producer for the highly-anticipated Shenmue III. Did you approach Yu Suzuki about the project, or did he approach you?
Biscay: I knew Yu Suzuki before and of course one of my first questions for him was to know about the status of Shenmue III.
The first time I asked, it was impossible to consider about the next episode because of the intellectual property owner, but later as you know, the situation changed thanks to our repetitive requests and investment.
SN: As the game’s producer, can you explain specifically your role in the development of Shenmue III?
Biscay: At first, my role was to simply make Shenmue III happen by securing some investors. As you can guess, this task was not easy because it’s a big risk to invest in this kind of old IP only supported by fans.
Concerning the development itself, my main task is to provide some ideas to Yu Suzuki and check if everything goes well. Yu Suzuki has the final say regarding development because he is the only one able to make a good Shenmue III game.
My company will also be in charge of the promotion (especially for the PC version).
SN: Have you played Shenmue before? Which one was your favorite and why?
Biscay: Of course I played Shenmue before! It’s almost impossible to say which one is my favorite.
Shenmue I is a great game because it was the first game of its kind.
Shenmue II was an improvement over Shenmue I and the new characters and gameplay were great, as well.
Playing the Shenmue saga was a fantastic experience and it allowed me to dream to work in the video game industry. It’s more than a video game for me.
SN: We have seen the screenshots from Shenmue III’s recent Kickstarter update and they look amazing. How’s Shenmue III’s development going so far?
Biscay: It’s going very well; the Unreal Engine 4 is good. I had the opportunity to make a short test in September, and I am satisfied with the results.
SN: When it comes to Shenmue III’s development, how much input do you have in the making of the game?
Biscay: As I said, Yu Suzuki is in charge of the development. This means he recruits the dedicated staff and he has to create the game with the team.
My role regarding development is to give some advice and opinions in order to fit the market and meet fan’s expectations.
However, let me clarify the fact that our strategy is to let Yu Suzuki make the best game. He is the genius on board, his responsibility is engaged and he knows about this.
SN: There was quite a bit of confusion and some negative articles on some video game sites revolving the Shenmue III’s Kickstarter and Sony’s involvement. As time has gone on, do you feel the majority of video game media have fairly covered Shenmue III?
Biscay: First of all, Shenmue III got so many good articles; that was crazy!
Besides the fact that the communication from the team and partners right after the announcement was not perfect, I was surprised to find some negative articles. Many people like me dreamed to bring back Shenmue III to life. It was almost impossible, then finally we did it. I still do not understand some journalists, and of course I understand they need to sell ads, or maybe some of them prefer social gaming, I do not know…
Please let me clarify the following – without Kickstarter, there is no way to have Shenmue III because it’s a big risk for traditional companies, and it was not possible to get funding by using the traditional way.
I absolutely do not want to put some lights or positive feedback on my company, but If I was not a fan of Shenmue saga and Yu Suzuki’s work, there would not be so much interest to invest in the Shenmue III game. We do not own the IP. It means we invest a huge sum of money in a brand owned by another company. It’s a very rare situation.
Yu Suzuki is back in business and offers Shenmue III to the video game world. Yes, I am happy to make this situation possible.
SN: What has been the general reaction from the development team to the Shenmue community’s latest #SaveShenmueHD campaign?
Biscay: We are always proud to see how the fans are supporting Shenmue in various ways. You guys rock!
SN: How important do you think it is for the future of the Shenmue series that the original two games be released digitally so younger gamers who never played them can finally experience them?
Biscay: I think it’s very important for the series to have Shenmue I & II in HD before the Shenmue III release.
SN: In mid-September, you launched the PayPal Slacker Backer campaign and have raised a little more than $90,000 since then. How successful do you feel the Slacker Backer campaign has been, and how much do you hope it raises before it ends?
Biscay: This campaign is created and managed by YS NET with the support of Awesome Japan, so I cannot say anything on it.
SN: In the most recent update, you gave the three-month progress report, which showed several new screenshots. What was the overall reception by fans of the new images? Do you plan to issue a new progress report every three months, or how often should fans expect them?
Cedric Biscay: The fans really love those images even if it’s still far from the final result. Updates will depend on the development progress. One big update should happen during the MAGIC in Monaco next February 27.
SN: Based on the work the development team has done on Shenmue III so far, can we still expect a December 2017 release date?
SN: We wanted to thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions. I personally want to thank you for helping Shenmue III become a reality. It means a lot to me and the entire fan base and no amount of words can show how grateful I am that you were able to accomplish this. Do you have any parting words you would like to say to the fans?
Biscay: Thanks for doing this interview. You know, I am someone who’s usually quite private. I do not like to give many interviews or make public comments regarding our work. However, after the Shenmue III announcement, I felt the fans needed to have an official voice.
Based on the fact that most of the Shenmue III team is Japanese, I decided to communicate more through Twitter and interviews. So even if I cannot reply to all the fans, do not hesitate to contact me on Twitter @CedricBiscay, and I will do my best to give a reply when I can.