With the looming release of Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth in a week, RGG Studio SEA and SEGA held a Philippines-exclusive launch party with the special appearance of the game’s producer Hiroyuki Sakamoto on Thursday, January 18, at The Island at the Palace, BGC. During the press conference, Mr. Sakamoto shared that it is his first time in the country and he is very happy to be here.
“I’m really happy that everyone has this [fan] community for the game,” Sakamoto expressed when asked about the growing fanbase in Southeast Asia, especially in the Philippines. “I want it to be a hit for everyone, especially worldwide.”
“I’ve been making the game since Yakuza 1, so every [game in the] series that’s been brought up really makes me happy,” Mr. Sakamoto continued. The most interesting part while developing the game according to him was the reception of the fans. “What makes me happy is seeing everyone’s reactions to the game and having fun playing it.”
The producer also expressed his eager surprise at the thriving cosplay scene of the Like A Dragon community. Some of the attendees had lined up dressed to the nines for the launch party. “I got really surprised by how many people were doing cosplays of the game!”
The game is considered to have the longest playing time out of all the other games in the Yakuza/Like A Dragon franchise, spanning approximately more than 70 hours of gameplay. Sakamoto said that he really focused on the quality of LAD: Infinite Wealth. “I really made time to assure the [game] quality and story progression,” he said.
Since the game setting is outside Japan this time around, Mr. Sakamoto shared that he had not been able to physically go to Hawaii for research. He had a hard time during production since it was remotely done during the pandemic. Thus, when the restrictions eased up, he made sure to travel to Hawaii to be certain that every detail (up to the height of a coconut tree) is accounted for.
Mr. Sakamoto also mentioned that he had some difficulty deciding the characters based on the other games. “It’s not only one game–it’s a series of games. But I still wanted to make a new character that will stand out.”
And speaking of characters, specifically Kiryu Kazuma and Ichiban Kasuga’s flourishing fanbases, Mr. Sakamoto added, “Before, there’s only one [main] character in the game–that’s why in this series I wanted to make two new main characters. I would appreciate it if everyone would like both characters as well, not just one.”
Since the setting of the game is based on a real place, Producer Sakamoto said that the experience on the island will be a lot more different from any other series. “I’ve been to Hawaii before–and I want to give everyone the experience of going to Hawaii. So even if you go to Hawaii and you play the game, it will be like ‘Wow, it’s like the real one!’”
Producer Hiroyuki Sakamoto also showed snippets of his own custom Dondoko Island in Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth during the press conference. The Dondoko Island mini-game allows the player to build various establishments and customize their own island. “I wanted a [very] chill type of [mini] game, so I wanted to include [this] part in the game,” Sakamoto shared. “There’s not really much of a game about Hawaii—that’s why I wanted to put something [that relates to it].” When he got the idea that there’s gonna be Hawaii in the game, he had figured to put in the Dondonko Island minigame–for an immersive Hawaiian experience.
To close the interview session, Mr. Sakamoto recommended fans to play the previous Yakuza games for the best gaming experience with Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth. “Other players jump into the latest game, but since this is a series of games which are based on the previous entries, it’s better to play the games before [for the best experience].”