Sega has always commented that the Yakuza franchise is developed for a small niche audience that would be interested in the slow adventures of a man in the world of Japanese underground organized crime. Even with Sega’s claims, they released their integrated report for 2020 which included the lifetime sales of the Yakuza franchise. That report revealed that the titles have broken over 14 million units sold. While that is a lot of games sold, the Yakuza franchise has eighteen main titles with thirteen English releases with the highly anticipated Yakuza remasters. Compared to its series total sales stats of 11 million total copies from 2018, the year that Yakuza 6 released in the west, and 12 million in 2019. The last two titles have raked in the majority of sales across the franchise’s fifteen-year life span.
The last game’s success may be indicating that Sega was correct in their assessment that the Yakuza games were indeed intended for a niche audience, it is becoming apparent the franchise is growing into a more mainstream title and gaming style. The franchise has more of going through a revival as the titles were dropping in popularity as the gaming industry grew past them. The franchise was dying early because the games focused exclusively on the nuances of Japanese culture, something that would be difficult for western audiences to adapt to, as well as the popularity surrounding Japan has been going on a slow decline until recently.
The success of Yakuza may also indicate a return of western interest in the culture of the small island chain and how the seedy criminal underbelly operates, and the franchise will likely suffer again when that interest shifts into being just a niche interest for people who got introduced through anime and games or those who are passionate about traveling around the globe.