If Shenmue III is now a reality, it is no doubt thanks to the work and collaboration of two men. On one side, Yu Suzuki of YsNet, and on the other, Cédric Biscay of Shibuya Productions. The alliance of these two entities made the project's implementation possible and enabled the Shenmue III Kickstarter campaign to break all records.
In 2013, Cédric Biscay gave us an interview that you can read with this link. At the time, we got the feeling that the first form of a partnership was emerging between the two men, and it ended up with the successful funding of Shenmue III.
As we saw in that first interview, Cédric Biscay is a Shenmue fan who never hesitated to provide further information about the actual situation surrounding the Shenmue licence, which allowed us to inform you better.
Today, Cédric is co-producer of Shenmue III. We asked him if he had the kindness to give us a second interview in order to know more about what the future holds for Shenmue III. He agreed and we're grateful for this.
Cédric Biscay in company of the famous Stan Lee, creator of Spider-Man and Hulk.
Second Interview of Cédric Biscay the Co-producer of Shenmue III
1/ In our last interview, we were pleased to see that you were a big fan of Shenmue. But are you also a fan of SEGA and its golden age? We are hinting at the beautiful T-shirts you often wear. ;)
Cédric Biscay: "Yes of course, I'm a diehard fan of the great SEGA era. I played mostly on Game Gear, Mega Drive, Saturn and Dreamcast. I even own several collector's models. I won't start talking about the games because it would take too long to list them!
Today, I play mainly on a SEGA New Net City thus finally I remain hooked on the brand ;)"
2/ Is it fair to say that you are both an entrepreneur and someone who is deeply passionate about the Japanese culture through its video games, animation and cinema? Do you enjoy combining business with your own passions?
Cédric Biscay: "Yes, I'm above all an enthusiast of these universes. Like everyone else, I asked myself what working life I want. Either I followed the 'traditional' way when such a market did not exist yet at the time or I created my own business despite all the obstacles on the path to success.
I finally decided to choose the latter option. Not because I appreciate business but because I simply had the feeling that it was the place where I could feel happier.
When you are young, you are more willing to take risks. It is these risks that make you able to influence your future."
3/ You maintain precious relationships with great Japanese creators such as Buichi Terasawa with Cobra: Return of Joe Gillian (for which you are a co-writer), Yoshitaka Amano, or Yu Suzuki with Shenmue III. You expressed admiration for Tezuka-san with Astroboy Reboot as well. At this point, some wonder what is your trick?
Cédric Biscay: "People I deal with have confidence in me and I think the reason is very simple: I do what I say and I keep my promises.
Japan is a country where mistakes are barely forgiven and where respect of the given word is the core of the human relationship. And the human relationship is itself the core of business.
It has now been 15 years since I worked in Japan with Shibuya International and two years with Shibuya Productions. So getting a good network is not surprising when you work hard. It is true that the production work pushes me more into the spotlight but that's really not my favorite part of it."
4/ Thanks to you, we had the privilege three times to welcome in France the illustrious Japanese creator Yu Suzuki - twice via Shibuya International and the third time via Shibuya Productions. While you were having dinner with Suzuki-san over glasses of good wine at MAGS 2013, you made the decision to work together. Can you elaborate and tell us some stories about that?
Cédric Biscay: "2013 was really the moment we began to discuss seriously. This was also the moment Yu and I agreed to collaborate.
At the initial stage, thinking about Shenmue III was still complicated despite the tendency of the rights holders (SEGA) to be more open. So we decided to work on another project. Unfortunately (or fortunately!), this project failed to go further. Luckily at the same time, the Shenmue III situation progressed in a positive sense."
5/ In July 2014, you created Shibuya Productions, a company specializing in the production of transmedia content (video games, animation, TV series) and in charge of the production and promotion of Shenmue III's PC version. Whether it concerns the negotiations with Sony or the seed funding, what was the precise role of Shibuya Productions in Shenmue's rebirth and the project deployment?
Cédric Biscay: "Shibuya Productions is the co-producer of the Shenmue 3 project as a whole. We provided financial guarantees that afforded us to think that producing this game was possible with fan contributions.
We have no relations with Sony but we obviously kept a close eye on this.
It's a clear fact that Shibuya Productions took a major financial risk while all others didn't."
6/ What are the specific reasons for throwing yourself into the Shenmue III adventure while aware of the massive risks for a company as young as Shibuya Productions?
Cédric Biscay: "Passion apart, I knew that working on Shenmue III could boost the brand image of Shibuya Productions in spite of its youthful structure. A boost that may save time for other project developments.
Of course then, I'm hopeful to make a profit but it will be the case only if a wide audience has an interest in the series.
Obviously, a new edition of the first two episodes would be a major asset."
7/ Fans and media have still a lot of questions regarding the role of each party. We prepared for you a summary of these roles. Tell us if the following elements are correct or not.
- SEGA granted YsNet the Shenmue III licence after negotiations directly led by Yu Suzuki. Suzuki-san was the one negotiating with Sony as well.
- Sony highlighted the Shenmue III Kickstarter campaign at E3 2015 and thus has been a big part of its success. In order to sell Shenmue III, Sony will also provide valuable assistance thanks to its marketing power and communication efficiency. Sony will be in charge of the production and publishing of the PlayStation 4 version and continue providing technical expertise to the YsNet team on Shenmue III development (hardware knowledge, optimization).
- Shibuya Productions is the initiator of the project with YsNet. You are the original and main investor in Shenmue III. You gave the initial impetus that made this project possible. Shibuya Productions is also responsible for the publishing and marketing of the PC version.
- YsNet is in charge of the game development on PlayStation 4 and PC in partnership with Neilo, Tak Hirai's studio. The management of the PayPal campaign has been assigned to Awesome Japan, a service provider.
Cédric Biscay: "Yes."
8/ So we can consider that YsNet and Shibuya Productions are the key figures of this project and the Shibuya Productions role is absolutely vital for Shenmue III as you are the main investor, right?
Cédric Biscay: "My humility will suffer but I would be lying to deny it."
9/ What can you tell us about the PC version? When will it be available?
Cédric Biscay: "The PC and console versions will be released simultaneously in December 2017."
10/ As the Shenmue saga will not end in Shenmue III, do you know if Yu Suzuki has secured rights for the hypothetical Shenmue IV and V? If yes, would you be willing to participate?
Cédric Biscay: "I cannot answer your first question. About the second question, I'm rather lucid. If Shenmue III doesn't sell well, we can consider that there will probably be no sequel (at least within 15 years ;) ). If the game is a hit, I think it's clear that far more powerful companies will overtake Shibuya Productions to pick up the baby despite not having believed in the project earlier.
The positive side for me is that everything is clear since the beginning."
11/ What are the real intentions of Yu Suzuki with Shenmue III, in your view? Is he willing to revolutionize video games with an original and unique game again? Do you personally think Shenmue III will deeply change gaming industry?
Cédric Biscay: "Above all, he wants to continue his iconic saga. You and I know where the story left off.
Then, after having talked several times with him on the topic, he has innovative and very good ideas to implement in Shenmue III. I was even able to test some of them."
12/ A lot of great games are not sold due to a total lack of marketing, particularly from SEGA with Skies of Arcadia for instance. Do you think it's possible to put Shenmue III forward on PSN for the PlayStation 4 version or Steam for the PC version?
Cédric Biscay: "Of course it's our goal but this does not depend entirely on us."
13/ Many publishers don't hesitate to offer a pre-order system long before their game release dates. Will we see the same thing happening for Shenmue III with a pre-order system quickly implemented on popular websites like Amazon?
Cédric Biscay: "It's still too early to bring this subject up."
14/ What is the current situation of the PayPal campaign? Do you plan some improvements to renew enthusiasm like new visuals, new rewards or a countdown timer?
Cédric Biscay: "Awesome Japan is directly responsible for the campaign under the exclusive management of YsNet."
15/ Do you think it's possible to sell Shenmue III beyond the fan community and make it attractive to a wider audience? What options do you have to make them cross the barrier?
Cédric Biscay: "My answer is going to be very simple but the first thing to do is to make a great game. A game that the media enjoy and that makes people keen to try it.
Whatever the Shenmue 1 & 2 remake situation, there are still ways to implement a summary of the first two episodes in Shenmue III."
16/ According to a majority of fans, HD ports/remasters of the first two Shenmue games are decisive for the future success of Shenmue III. Have you thought about getting the Shenmue 1 & 2 licence with Suzuki-san in order to produce the ports/remasters yourselves?
Cédric Biscay: "I personally considered this option but it is financially and technically complicated."
17/ Let me talk with Cédric Biscay the fan of Shenmue, not the Shenmue III co-producer. Do you prefer to strictly meet your deadline or reach perfection for Shenmue III?
Cédric Biscay: "As a fan, I obviously want the most perfect game possible but it's not incompatible with the current deadline."
18/ How much progress has been made with the Shenmue III Dreamcast version? (joking)
Cédric Biscay: "If I had an unlimited budget, I think a Dreamcast version release would have been a reality! For passionate people like us, the Shenmue saga is closely tied to the Dreamcast. Today I would have preferred to announce the port of Shenmue III on Dreamcast 3. :D "
19/ Do you plan to work on another 'forgotten' SEGA licence like Streets of Rage for instance?
Cédric Biscay: "No such plans on the agenda. I'm more a 'step by step' man. Let's focus on releasing a great Shenmue III."
20/ We know Suzuki-san is a great wine lover. Do you think we'll get another chance to see him back in France thanks to our great wines? We're thinking about MAGIC 2017... :D
Cédric Biscay: "Everything is possible! Feel free to regularly check the official site: www.magic-ip.com" Direct link.
Thank you very much for this second interview.
Cédric Biscay: "It's always a pleasure!"
We would like to warmly thank Cédric Biscay for his availability and for taking the time to answer us. Thanks to Yokosuka for the English translation and to Switch and James Hamill for the various corrections.