Sega has exhausted almost 97 per cent of its stock of Judgment, the Yakuza spin-off that was withdrawn from sale earlier this month after one of its performers was arrested on alleged drug charges.
The company called the event “highly regrettable” and said it had seen arrest reports on Pierre Taki, who plays Yakuza Kyohei Hamura. Given Taki reportedly admitted using cocaine, the publisher then decided to withdraw the game from sale both physically and digitally as it considered how best to proceed. It remains unclear how long Sega plans to withdraw the game for, or how it might affect the game’s intended worldwide release later this year.
“I’m bummed that it sold like there was a last-minute surge in demand,” chief creative officer Toshihiro Nagoshi said on Sega Nama broadcast (thanks, Gematsu, via GI.biz). “It reached number three on Amazon’s sales rankings. But I did kind of think, ‘why didn’t you just buy from the start?’ Of course, I’m glad in any case.”
“I can see it from both sides,” he added, reflecting on whether or not Sega should have withdrawn the game. “So when it comes to why I voted for halting sales, it’s because it was just after release. If it was an older game released a considerable amount of time ago, our priorities may have been different, but when it was something that had been released only several months prior, I think it’s a different conversation.”
Sega had been hoping Judgment would help reverse its fortunes following a year-over-year profits drop of 62 per cent. In its financial reporting on the first half of the fiscal year, Sega saw consolidated net sales fall by 12 per cent year-over-year (YoY) to ¥171 billion ($1.5 billion), and its overall profits drop 62 per cent to ¥6.7 billion ($59 million).
In the Entertainment Contents Business – in which sits Sega’s video game business – things were a little more positive with a 5.6 per cent net sales rise to ¥107 billion ($951 million), but the operating income also fell by almost 39 per cent to a little over ¥6 billion ($55 million). Sega’s plans to launch multiple new titles “that capitalize on existing and new IPs” included specific reference to “Project Judge (working title)” – also known as Judgment.