In a new GameSpot interview, Yakuza executive producer and Ryu Ga Gotoku studio head Masayoshi Yokoyama expressed that he’s hesitant to bring the popular franchise to Nintendo Switch. He explained that the console’s family-friendly image in Japan doesn’t fit with the franchise’s mix of combat, crime, and its “underground feeling.”
While there was a time when the open-world action of the Yakuza games was limited to PlayStation consoles and didn’t release in the West regularly, today things are different. In the last decade or so, the series has become more mainstream and has appeared on PC and non-PlayStation consoles more frequently. And naturally, many fans want the series to make its way over to Nintendo’s Switch. But that might not happen anytime soon, due to how the console is apparently perceived in Japan.
Speaking to GameSpot, Yokoyama explained that he wasn’t sure about bringing Yakuza to Switch, asking, “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?” According to GameSpot, Yokoyama further explained that the Switch is seen in Japan as a more family-friendly system. It’s a bit of a bizarre response considering the countless mature games released on the Switch over the years, including stuff like Bayonetta 2, Hotline Miami, and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.
While trying to further elaborate, Yokoyama discussed the “underground feeling” that the Yakuza games have and how that, apparently, is part of why it might not be ported to the Switch anytime soon.
“We still kind of think of ourselves as people of the night world, right?” Yokoyama said. “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.”
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Yakuza has appeared on a Nintendo console before. Back in 2013, Yakuza 1 and 2 were ported to the Wii U. But at the time it was described by then-Yakuza producer Toshihiro Nagoshi as an “experiment” to see if there was an audience for the games on the Wii U. That experiment, by the way, didn’t go well…
So now, in 2022, it’s not surprising to hear that RGG staff aren’t interested in porting Yakuza to the Switch. I imagine, though, that fans of games with that “underground feeling” who also love playing on the Switch will be quite sad about this news.
Meanwhile, a bunch of Yakuza games were recently announced, including a remake of Like a Dragon: Ishin being built in Unreal 4 and a new Yakuza spin-off. Plus we got to see the first trailer for the previously teased Like A Dragon 8 aka Yakuza 8. Will any of these see a release on the Switch one day? Doesn’t seem like it.