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Why Yakuza Might Never Come To Nintendo Switch

While the "Yakuza" series continues to expand its access across a variety of game platforms, it appears that won't include the Nintendo Switch for the foreseeable future. During PlayStation's most recent State of Play - which also included the surprise announcement of "Tekken 8" – the publisher revealed that a beloved "Yakuza" spin-off was getting western localization for the first time. "Yakuza: Ishin," which places series protagonist Kazuma Kiryu in 1860s Japan as a samurai, has been remade and is set for release February 2023 for PS4, PS5, Xbox, and PC. That same day also brought the news that a pair of other "Yakuza" spin-offs, "Judgment" and "Lost Judgment," are now available on PC.

Once "Ishin" releases, nearly every game of the series will be available on modern consoles and PC. That is, of course, with the exception of the Nintendo Switch. For a Japanese-made console, the exclusion of this universally-acclaimed series may seem strange, but according to Ryu Ga Gotoku studio head Masayoshi Yokoyama, this is deliberate. In a recent report from GameSpot, Yokoyama revealed the studio is reluctant to bring "Yakuza" to the Switch because its adult themes conflict with the console's family-oriented reputation. Even though the console supports a host of other mature third-party titles, the "Yakuza" studio isn't eager to join that list.

The Nintendo Switch has a cleaner image in Japan

According to Yokoyama, the Nintendo Switch is known in Japan as the "family-friendly" console. To an extent, the same can be said for many of the company's previous releases. Franchises like "Super Mario" and "The Legend of Zelda" have long been foundational pieces of Nintendo's success while providing relatively clean fun. Because of that reputation, he said, the presence of "Yakuza" games doesn't make sense. He called his studio "people of the night world" that "don't want to be walking around the day with everybody else." He considers the "Yakuza" series to be more of an "underground" experience.

As one might expect, the news wasn't met with much positivity on the internet. Twitter users were quick to point out the fact that there are already countless mature titles on the Switch, including "Grand Theft Auto" and "The Witcher 3" – albeit with sacrifices. Another user suggested the company won't admit it's unwilling to bring the series back to Nintendo due to the poor sales of "Yakuza 1 & 2 HD" on the Wii U (via NintendoLife). There's also the theory floating around that the Switch wouldn't be able to run the newer games in the series. 

Because gamers don't seem to believe Yokoyama's reasoning, it's left many to speculate. The only thing that's certain, for now, is that Nintendo users may continue to be left in the dark when it comes to the "Yakuza" series.