Sega's long-running Yakuza franchise will be going through a name change in North America. According to reporting from Kotaku, all future entries will now go by the name "Like a Dragon." The most recently released game in the series was 2020's Yakuza: Like a Dragon, so the name change should be an easy one for most gamers to adjust to. Ryu ga Gotoku is the name of the series in Japan, which also translates to Like a Dragon. Sega confirmed to Kotaku that the move is intended to "more closely align with the Japanese name." The change will effectively begin starting with the recently announced Like a Dragon: Ishin.
The original Like a Dragon released in Japan in late 2005 on PlayStation 2. A few months later, the game arrived in North America as Yakuza, where it established a passionate following. In the years since, the series has spawned several sequels appearing on a number of different platforms. A live-action adaptation is also currently in development.
While Sega did not mention the adaptation as part of its rationale for the name change, it's entirely possible that it played some role. A number of video game franchises and characters have had their names changed when leaving Japan, but the industry has seen many of those names change back, in the interest of keeping things universal. When the first Sonic the Hedgehog game was brought to North America, the villainous Dr. Eggman was renamed "Robotnik." Years later, Sega chose to start using the Eggman name in North America, making it a nickname that the villain chose to embrace.
It will be interesting to see how gamers in North America react to the change! At the end of the day, it's just a name, and the actual quality of future series entries will play a much bigger role in everyone's enjoyment. Still, for those that have been with the series since 2006, this will likely take a bit of getting used to.
Are you a fan of the Yakuza name change? Will it be difficult for you to adjust to the "new" name for the series? Let us know in the comments or share your thoughts directly on Twitter at @Marcdachamp to talk all things gaming!