Last month, Ryu Ga Gotoku announced some big changes coming to the Yakuza series. Besides the announcement of three new games, the Japanese developer also revealed a name change. Rather than Yakuza, Ryu Ga Gotoku will use the name "Like a Dragon" in the West just as it does in the East.
In an interview with IGN shortly after the name change was announced, producer Masayoshi Yokoyama said that the decision was largely due to the series moving away from being strictly about Yakuza.
"Story-wise too, we are talking about [the] criminal underworld, but we're not talking about Yakuza, really," said Yokoyama. "So it just makes sense for us not to include them in the name. The response to the Like a Dragon name seemed pretty good [in Yakuza: Like A Dragon], so it gave us the confidence to take out 'Yakuza' and just go straight on with Like a Dragon."
However, it seems the name change hasn't quite been finalized. In a new interview with Automaton, Yokoyama said that he'd be observing fan reactions outside of Japan to see whether the word Yakuza will be completely removed from the franchise going forward.
The main concern seems to be with causing confusion for Western audiences. The series has always been called Yakuza, and although diehard fans are aware that the same series is called Like a Dragon in Japan, more casual fans might not have connected the two even after Yakuza 7 was called "Yakuza: Like a Dragon." This might lead to Yakuza undergoing a bit of a reboot with the next game's title being "Yakuza: Like a Dragon 2" or possibly just "Like a Dragon 2."
As for Like a Dragon: Ishin, Yokoyama told Automaton there was no possibility that the Western remake would have been called Yakuza: Ishin. "If we did that then it would become a confusing mess," he replied. Sega of America opted to simply translate the Japanese name for the coming game.
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