Remember when the Xbox Series X and S launched Yakuza gamebut not PS5? That was weird, wasn’t it? For so long, the Yakuza series has been closely tied to the PlayStation. But for a few months at least, the latest game in the series has skipped Sony’s next-gen machine for the luxury Xbox console. Why? The answer just came out today, and it’s both complicated and stupid.
November 2020 saw the launch of Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5 with a handful of exclusives and plenty of ports. (They were mostly ports…) One of the weirdest new-gen exclusives at the time was Yakuza: Like a dragon, which was available at launch on PS4, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S. A few months later, this particular new entry in the popular Yakuza series has finally arrived on PS5. At the time, people online speculated that Microsoft had made a deal with Sega to keep the game off the next-gen PlayStation. Others have suggested that the PS5 version had technical issues that forced its delay. The real reason? Sega signed too many contracts with too many companies.
As revealed in the massive Xbox leak on September 19thwhich included lots of emails and private documents from inside Microsoft, it seems that Xbox boss Phil Spencer was just as surprised as gamers when he realized there wouldn’t be a PS5 port. Like a Dragon.
In leaked emails from June 2020, Spencer is seen sharing this IGN tweet and asked if the game was “next-gen exclusive”. Another manager replies to Spencer that it isn’t and that it will be available on PS4 as well as Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S. Spencer then replies how “funny” it is that Sega doesn’t even list the PS5 on their website.
How two separate deals delayed the PS5 port
After some more talk about possibly creating a Sega-themed Xbox in Japan, Damon Baker – who was in charge of global game partnerships and development at the time – explained why Microsoft was going to have an exclusive next-gen port. Yakuza: Like a dragon.
- According to him, Sony had a 12-month exclusivity deal with Sega to release the game for the PlayStation in Japan and Asia.
- This meant that Microsoft could not release the Xbox version of the game in Japan until this deal ended.
- However, Microsoft also had a contract with Sega that contained a parity clause that prevented Sony from releasing next-gen SKUs. Like a Dragon in Japan until the Xbox did as well.
- And since Xbox couldn’t release any version of the game in Japan until the PlayStation deal was done, Sony couldn’t release a PS5 port in the region.
In the same email, Baker shared the news that Sega has no plans to launch a PS5 version in the United States, adding, “It sounds like we now have a limited-time exclusivity for the next generation.”
At this point, after pointing out that Microsoft has the rights to sell the game outside of Japan, Spencer wondered if Xbox might advertise that the next Yakuza game was a next-gen exclusive to the X/S series, he added that it was a “big deal” and later said that it “might even cost us some money” if they can push that message in future marketing. Which is what happened when Microsoft posted blogs about how the game should be harness the power of the “next-gen” X/S series and promote the release of the game on their consoles.
In February 2021, about three months later, Sony’s exclusivity in Japan expired and Yakuza: Like a dragon finally launched on Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S in Japan. next month, was launched on PS5 in Japan and everywhere elsethus ending one of the strangest pieces of corporate contractual stupidity I’ve seen in a long, long time.