Search KoopaTV!


Friday, September 23, 2022

Masayoshi Yokoyama: Underground Feeling of Yakuza/Like a Dragon Clashes with Nintendo Switch

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - I have some evidence I'd like to PRESENT.

Since it wasn't clear, when Like a Dragon: Ishin! was announced at last week's Sony State of Play, that is a remake of a 2014 spin-off from the Yakuza series... which has been renamed to Like a Dragon. I'm not the expert in why that makes sense or why tossing out all of that brand recognition is a good idea.

Anyway, series producer Masayoshi Yokoyama of Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio (owned by Sega) sort of explains with GameSpot (in what really should've been written in interview format but isn't) why the Like a Dragon games (the spin-off, whatever Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name is, and Like a Dragon 8) are coming not just to PlayStation consoles like they've always historically been, but also PC and Xbox... but specifically not to Nintendo platforms. Again, the GameSpot article is short and presented terribly, but the direct quotes provided are...

"Do we want to put a title like this where we're going around and picking a fight with the world and doing all this Yakuza stuff, on a Switch,"

"We still kind of think of ourselves as people of the night world, right? We don't want to be like walking around the day with everybody else[.]" "Like for us, it's kind of showing this kind of underground feeling. I think the underground kind of feeling is what we want to do."

This is incoherent and I wonder if there are some translation issues in the answers. But Yakuza got its start and popularity with the PlayStation 2. The PlayStation 2 was THE mainstream console, BY FAR the most popular console of its generation. Meanwhile, the PlayStation 4 also had a very dominating position over the Wii U and Xbox One, while the PlayStation 3 was also quite mainstream (though not dominating). PlayStation was the face of gaming quite a long time. If you want to talk about underground, it's not a Sony console. If you're doing things in the night and want to be in the counterculture, it's not the PlayStation's reputation that best suits that.

If you're talking about the ecosystem of “Mature” videogames, the Switch actually has made enormous strides compared to previous Nintendo consoles. In 2014, I did an analysis based on ESRB data for the average rating (E, E10+, T, M) of the videogame consoles and mobile. And on average, the games on Sony and Microsoft consoles did indeed have a higher (older) ESRB rating than Nintendo consoles, with mobile being the least mature (or, more for everyone).

While I'm not doing a full update of those numbers, I did just go and see what the current ratings would be for the Switch, the PlayStation 5, and the Xbox Series with my same methodology from eight years ago. I also included the average numbers for all evaluated titles in 2021 that the ESA reported in their 2022 Essential Facts report.

OBJECTION! Here's my evidence!
The 2021 averages look funny because the ESA's report gave rounded numbers.
If you're wondering how 2021 can have all of the consoles above the average, consider that mobile games must be below the average.
(And the consoles are all years, not just 2021.)
If you want me to fully update my study from 2014 in another article, let me know.

Among other things, you can see that the industry's console games continue to get higher and higher ratings on average, and for the first time, a Nintendo console has passed the E10+ average benchmark. While the Nintendo Switch (11.1) is still lower than the Xbox Series and PlayStation 5 (which are basically tied at 11.9—and have way less games available than the Switch), it's not that far off, and it has a sheer higher quantity of Mature-rated games than its competitors. It's also higher than the PlayStation 3's average rating was back in 2013 (10.9), so if the PlayStation 3 was mature enough to begin the Like a Dragon or Yakuza series, then the Switch should be too.

Masayoshi Yokoyama is stuck in the past. The Switch has a massive variety in available games across the maturity range (including the Grand Theft Auto trilogy, which markets itself based on being in the criminal underworld, since Yokoyama seems preoccupied with that imagery), significantly more than its predecessors, and the Like a Dragon games would fit into that. That way, the yakuza can have more representation on the Switch than the Nyakuza DLC for A Hat in Time (which is...something). I think this whole affair is bad for Yokoyama's reputation, as it should be if this truly represents how he feels.

It's always possible with gaming “journalism” that Masayoshi Yokoyama was very misrepresented by GameSpot, and he doesn't actually feel this way. Though that doesn't change the lack of Like a Dragon's planned presence on the Switch, so there's at least some (likely poor) reason out there either way. The ESRB methodology leaves a lot more to be desired in 2022 than 2014, because there are now many games that aren't being rated by the ESRB that are available to be played. The ESRB is also America-biased, while Yokoyama is speaking from his Japanese perceptions.


  1. I don't agree with it but i can kinda understand it. Even if I wasn't a Nintendo fan, I think it'd be silly to not recognize the enormous influence and presence of Nintendo as one of the gaming company giants. If not THE sole giant. All that stuff with the market crash, and Nintendo having most of the top recognizable/successful video game characters ever for example. I think a part of Mr. Masayoshi Yokoyama's argument is because of this. Regardless of what console sells the best or what kind of games are on any of the system, Nintendo itself represents a sort of venerability that the other companies just don't have (yet?). Maybe because Nintendo is literally decades older at this point. In that sense, it feels weird to give your "grandmother" a yakuza game, even if you know she'd enjoy it and that her "grandchildren" would love it too.

    1. I don't understand Yokoyama on this... OR you.

    2. Nintendo still has the persona of a respected elder, as opposed to all the other game companies. In japan, they do especially place certain feelings and personality's with objects/companies or ideas. Our Holy Nintendo can do no wrong, in Mr. Yokoyamas eyes.

    3. I don't think what you're saying is backed up with evidence. If you're gonna say it's a Japanese thing, explain why these (well-known, prestigious) Japanese companies have M-rated games on Nintendo platforms such as the Switch:
      SEGA (which Yokoyama works for) with Bayonetta, Persona, Shin Megami Tensei
      CAPCOM with RESIDENT EVIL and Devil May Cry
      Grasshopper/Marvelous have the No More Heroes games (quite M-rated) on the Switch (and even the Wii!);
      SQUARE ENIX put NieR on the Switch now.
      Bandai Namco has DARK SOULS.
      Spike Chunsoft has the DANGANRONPA games and AI: THE SOMNIUM FILES.
      Koei Tecmo has FATAL FRAME.

    4. This is true! And of course your forgetting about all those dirty games that are on the switch but not allowed on PlayStation unless they are heavily censored. As stated i don't agree with him, but maybe it could be that Yakuza is rooted more with a real life thing than these other games. Of course I did see that yakuza on ice sing-song video, so it's still not completely serious. It is a true mystery.

    5. Someone on another website suggested to me that Yokoyama was ACTUALLY saying that the Switch is a bad underpowered console. That's a very unpersuasive argument.
      One, there's no evidence that's the case with the games he's working on. (That they'd require extra power that the Switch can't supply.)
      Two, other developers have had no issue actually giving that (reasonable, or at least defendable) excuse directly. Only Yokoyama went out of his way to make himself look like a fool.

  2. "I'm not the expert in why that makes sense or why tossing out all of that brand recognition is a good idea."
    I still see it as akin to the Dragon Warrior -> Dragon Quest title change.

    "But Yakuza got its start and popularity with the PlayStation 3."
    The series started on the PS2.

    Getting back to the topic at hand, his explanation makes no sense whatsoever for the reasons you already explained. It makes even less sense when you consider that the Yakuza/Like a Dragon games usually have a lot of positive messages, and you don't even play as an active yakuza member. (His answer sounds strangely like he's unfamiliar with his own games.)

    Once upon a time, Yakuza 1 and 2 were bundled together and released on the Wii U, only in Japan. My guess is that it sold poorly, and instead of attributing that to the Wii U, they decided it was a Nintendo thing and invented this reasoning.

    1. So you wanna know why I wrote PlayStation 3?
      Clearly because I decided it wasn't popular on the PS2.
      Because I did my fact-checking on Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio's Wikipedia page and not Yakuza (franchise) Wikipedia page. >.>

      Perhaps he believes that Mature titles don't sell on Nintendo platforms in general. His fellow Japanese developers and producers would disagree. They only don't sell on the Wii U 'cause nothing did. (That might be a revisionist statement; early indies at least loved the Wii U.)

    2. Ah, yeah, I think they were just a division within Sega for a long time before getting their own branding as Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio.

      That makes the most sense to me... although it's more inexplicable when you consider that RGG is part of Sega, who has other M-rated games on the Switch. If Persona 5 sells well, will that change their mind?

    3. I get the feeling that evidence, even within the same company, won't be enough to change Yokoyama's mind.


We embrace your comments.
Expect a reply between 1 minute to 24 hours from your comment. We advise you to receive an e-mail notification for when we do reply.
Also, see our Disclaimers.

Spamming is bad, so don't spam. Spam includes random advertisements and obviously being a robot. Our vendor may subject you to CAPTCHAs.

If you comment on an article that is older than 60 days, you will have to wait for a staffer to approve your comment. It will get approved and replied to, don't worry. Unless you're a spambot.