SEGA’s beloved Judgment series may be coming to an abrupt end after a long legal battle. Judgment is a spinoff of the successful Yakuza franchise and follows Takayuki Yagami. Yagami is played by Japan’s superstar Takuya Kimura, best know for “2046”, “Love and Honour,” and “Howl’s Moving Castle.” They use both his voice acting and likeness, and that’s where the problem lies.
SEGA has been releasing the other Yakuza titles on PC in recent years, even promising to do the same with the Judgment spinoffs. But Takuya Kimura’s talent agent, Johnny & Associates, is refusing to let the games release. They claim the easy online access of a PC version will over saturate their client’s image. PC also allows people to mod the game, making Kimura’s likeness susceptible to an array of manipulations.
In response to the debate, SEGA has stated they will likely stop with the second Judgment game, Lost Judgement. Without PC sales, the games are not fiscally feasible. Not releasing on PC is a shame as Judgment uses a different combat style than the other Yakuza titles. It widens the appeal to more players that may prefer non-turn-base combat.
As the industry continues to use more actors for their projects, this is likely to arise again. Face capture brings the biggest stars to our favorite games. The contracts for a video game are far more complicated than a film because the platforms will vary. We will need to create a new standard as the industry continues to evolve into the mainstream.
We will keep you updated as these negotiations continue.