Go to any major search engine and just slam your hands against your keyboard. What comes up on the search bar will more than likely just be gibberish, but I can guarantee* you'll still find at least six articles mentioning how badly people want Shenmue 3 to release.
When it came to Duke Nukem Forever, the hype was a bit more than absolutely insane. But to be fair, that was entirely warranted. The over-the-top nature of the game's twelve year marketing campaign perfectly matched the game's history. It didn't save the game from bad reviews, but it cemented it in history.
This is not the type of hype that follows the hope of a Shenmue 3 announcement. After enough time had passed, the hype behind Duke Nukem was more of a joke instead of actual interest in the game. The hype behind Shenmue 3 is that of pure desperation. So why hasn't it been announced yet?
Well here's the most obvious reason. The Shenmue series bled so much money that there was never any chance of the games making even the smallest amount of profit. To put just how expensive Shenmue was into perspective, its been said that Sega would have had to sell at least two copies of the game to every single Dreamcast owner just to make a profit.
As you might be aware, that is simply impossible. At the time of it's release it was the most expensive game ever made and took a whopping seven years to produce. At that point Sega had no choice but to continue working on it. They were simply in too deep. The fact that we even got one sequel to the game at all is absolutely amazing, but not completely unwarranted.
I'm looking for some sequels
Once the game's engine was created, Shenmue 2 was actually a breeze for Sega to make. And it was just good business sense. Despite being unable to sell an infinity amount of copies of Shenmue, it still sold considerably well. If Sega wanted any chance at making some money off their IP, then Shenmue 2 was their only route.
Shame that the Dreamcast was already knocking on death's door at that point. No matter how much people enjoyed Shenmue 2, there was never any chance of it saving Sega. But that wasn't the end of the franchise by any means. There was still the chance of porting the game to a different console!
And that's exactly what Sega did... to disastrous effect. Because Microsoft had exclusive rights to Shenmue 2 in America, the Dreamcast version of the game never made it to our shores. This means that any of the original fans of the Dreamcast version of the game couldn't play it, and any Xbox users who didn't own a Dreamcast couldn't play the first game to be able to follow the second game's story.
Have you seen any sequels around here?
Sega effectively locked out any potential consumers and killed any chance of Shenmue ever making a profit on it's new console. To make matters worse, the game was poorly advertised in the American marketplace, so any Dreamcast user who was willing to buy an Xbox for the game ended up getting left out in the dark with no knowledge of the it's existence.
Since then, Sega hasn't exactly been able to rebuild itself. They've made plenty of great games, but they've gone on record plenty of times saying that if they tried to make another game as ambitious as Shenmue, it could very easily tank the company. So how could they pull it off? Well, it isn't exactly going to be easy. But it could be done.
Option One: Sell The Rights
While I'm sure it would just kill Sega to sell off one of their most beloved franchises, it seems like it would be a better use of the IP than shoving Ryo into different racing games or trying to set up some sort of social cellphone game using his image. But here's the problem. Shenmue has proven time and time again that it is revenue poison. Both games in the series managed to end up costing Sega millions of dollars, so why would someone want to buy the series off of them?
Option Two: HD Remakes
Sega has really been on a roll with all these HD remasters they've been churning out this last year.You would think with so many iconic Dreamcast games already on the different console stores that Shenmue 1 and 2 wouldn't be far behind, right?
Could you help me find some sequels?
Well you need to remember that those games are a completely different beast compared to Space Channel 5 and Sega Bass Fishing. While the cost wouldn't be astronomical, it could end up eating into the profits of all the other remasters they've already released!
And I already mentioned that whole exclusivity mess that went into releasing Shenmue 2 into the west. While I have no idea how it would end up working with an HD remake, let's just assume Microsoft wouldn't take a Shenmue 2 release on the PSN very well at all.
Option Three: Just Go For It
We already know that Sega can't handle the stress that would accompany a game as costly Shenmue in this day and age, but what about a budget Shenmue title? Couldn't Sega release a watered down version of the game just so people could finish the story?
Well of course they could. They could release the next Sonic game one level at a time and try to sell the rest of the game as DLC if they wanted to. The reason they don't is simple. They would kill their fanbase and possibly even hurt sales for their games with larger budgets. Sega knows that if they ever had a chance to make another Shenmue game then it would have to be top notch. They'd just be wasting money otherwise.
Barring the possibility of someone over at the SEGA headquarters winning the Powerball and then funding the Shenmue 3 production by themselves, we probably won't ever see Shenmue 3 come to light. There's just too much going against it. But Sega is still a game company, and as long as they live there is always hope for a sequel. Just not much. Thanks for reading!