Once upon a time, the Yakuza series of games survived on its cult following. Fast forward to today and Yakuza has become one of the most popular gaming franchises in the world.
After expanding to other platforms and receiving critical acclaim, the Yakuza series is now as recognizable as ever. Because of this, SEGA saw fit to release spin-offs to the Yakuza series, like Judgment.
Now that we're finally closing in on the release of Lost Judgment, it seems the spin-off won't be staying for long though.
Why Lost Judgment could be the last game in the Yakuza spin-off
Lost Judgment might be the final game in the Judgment series of spin-off titles because of tensions between SEGA and one of the lead actor's agencies.
The r/GamingLeaksAndRumours subreddit was one of the first to translate the news.
The actual report comes courtesy of the Japanese website, Nikkan Taishu, which claims that the Judgment series might be ending because of a specific rule in one of the actor's contracts, that stipulates against his likeness being used on the PC.
Japanese site Nikkan Taishu reports Lost Judgement might the last game in the series due to disagreements between SEGA and the talent agency of actor Takuya Kimura
The reason: SEGA wants a Steam version - the agency doesn'thttps://t.co/v7NRdKi5gQ
— Nibel (@Nibellion) July 12, 2021
The actor concerned here is Takuya Kimura. Kimura is the voice and model of Takayuki Yagami, the protagonist of the Judgment games. In his contract, there is a specific agreement that details which platforms SEGA is allowed to use his face on. In essence, it allows Kimura's talent agency to restrict SEGA from using his likeness in a PC port of a Judgment game.
The first Judgment game was released as a PS4 exclusive in 2018 in Japan before it saw a worldwide release in 2019 and a simultaneous global launch on the Xbox Series S/X, Google Stadia, as well as the PS5, in 2021. The sequel, Lost Judgment, is slated for a September 2021 release on the Xbox Series S/X, Xbox One, PS4, and the PS5.
It's worth noting that the Judgment games haven't been released on the PC yet. However, this is an inevitable path. Its parent series, Yakuza, was eventually released on Steam by SEGA.
If the reports are true, Johnny & Associates' decision to restrict the use of Kimura's face on the PC is understandable. The agency seems keen on protecting the actor's intellectual property rights and privacy. A PC release would open up Judgment and Lost Judgment to a variety of mods. Although some mods do help make games better, such as these mods for Days Gone and Resident Evil Village, not all content is appropriate.
On the other hand, SEGA is justified for ending the Judgment series of spin-off titles over this reported dispute. In recent years, the company has invested serious resources into releasing more of its games on the PC, including legacy games and recent releases. The publisher has also seen the likes of Persona 4: Golden succeed on the PC, so it's only natural that it wants to keep its options open for PC ports of the Judgment games.
Here's to hoping that SEGA and Johnny & Associates' conflict is resolved soon. Most fans would love to continue playing as Yagami in future Judgment games.