Shenmue creator Yu Suzuki said that Shenmue 4 would be developed with a more mainstream audience in mind, unlike Shenmue 3, which was made “for the fans” (via GameSpot).
Earlier this year, the publisher parent company of Shenmue 3 expressed that the game was not a “mass market product,” and that “financially it’s fine.” Though it was one of our Games of the Year, not everyone got along with the pace and the structure of Shenmue 3. As such, the viability of the series seems to be cast in shadow. In an interview with IGN Japan, Suzuki feels confident that Shenmue will continue.
“If I have the opportunity to make Shenmue 4—and I think I will—I know how to satisfy casual users, so I want to make a game that everyone can be satisfied with,” stated the director. "I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to work on new things. But of course, I want to continue towards the end of the Shenmue story, and as long as there is fan demand, I will continue to make it, as I’ve said before.”
Shenmue 4 would pick up the pace of a standard Shenmue outing, he said, and the game would also offer quest markers, easier fast travel, time-skip options, and an improved user interface. He may consider removing the open world elements of a Shenmue game in the future: it may be “interesting to have a closed space.” The letter at the end of Shenmue 3 hopes that Shenmue 4 will happen, and if Suzuki is already thinking about what the future may hold, then it appears to be a strong possibility.
Shenmue 3 is out now for PC and PlayStation 4.