Yakuza is a name that has become popular in western territories such as the US, but in Japan it is traditionally called Ryu Ga Gotoku, which roughly translates to “Dragon-like”. Now, with the announcement of three new Like a Dragon games, it looks like the Yakuza title has been retired for good.
In a recent roundtable interview with IGN, RGG Studio boss Masayoshi Yokoyama discussed moving away from the Yakuza moniker, explaining that the move was tested with Yakuza: Like a Dragon.
“In [Yakuza 7], it was Yakuza: Like a Dragon, and we thought that if we suddenly released this game without any Yakuza, people would be like, “What game is this?” What’s going on with this?’… The response to Like A Dragon seemed pretty good, so that gave us the confidence to pull Yakuza and just go ahead with Like A Dragon,” Yokoyama said.
When asked if there was a thematic reason behind the change, Yokoyama replied that the name had no meaning with games like Ishin set in the 19th century.
“[S]”Historically, we’re talking about the criminal world, but we’re not really talking about the Yakuza,” Yokoyama said. “So it makes sense that we don’t include them in the names. If we go through the accent, we’d be Yakuza: Work! Not Yakuza: Work! It’s not about that. Like a Dragon: Work! it makes more sense.”
The Yakuza name has been around since the PS2 version of the series was first introduced to the US as “GTA in Japan”, which was initially unsuccessful but later gained popularity thanks to Yakuza 0. For many fans, there was the name Yakuza. long lost its relevance, but it has become established enough to stick around.
The name change also coincides with the start of a new era for RGG Studio, which recently saw the departure of Toshihiro Nagoshi and several senior leaders. With Yokoyama now in full charge, RGG Studio is set to release three new games in the series, including Dragon 8 and the Kazuma Kiryu-centric spin-off Dragon As Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name. In addition to the name change, RGG Studio is also exploring the possibility of porting the series to Unreal Engine 5.
The next game slated for the series is As Dragon: Ishin, a samurai-themed remake of the spin-off set in 19th-century Japan. You can read our full impressions of Like a Drago: Ishin here, with a release date set for February 2023.