Sega has confirmed its Yakuza spin-off, Judgment, will return to sale in Japan in July, four months after the game was pulled after one of its performers being 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 decided to withdraw the game from sale both physically and digitally as it considered how best to proceed.
Sega has now confirmed (thanks, Gematsu) that a new version of the game, which replaces Yakuza Kyohei Hamura’s voice and character mode with a different actor, will be released on July 18, 2019. This is the same actor that will be used in the international release of the game, which will go on sale as scheduled on June 25th, 2019.
The decision to withdraw the game from sale in Japan sent sales soaring and Sega quickly exhaust 97 per cent of its Judgment stock. “I’m bummed that it sold like there was a last-minute surge in demand,” chief creative officer Toshihiro Nagoshi said at the time. “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“I can see it from both sides,” he added, reflecting on whether or not Sega should have withdrawn the game.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. 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.