When Yakuza: Like a Dragon was originally released in 2020, there was a somewhat exceptional situation in which the game was exclusive, in the new generation, to Xbox Series X and S for only four months. The PlayStation 4 version was released simultaneously, but the PS5 version took four months to launch. In principle, it is the only game that has had similar circumstances.
Confidential documents leaked yesterday by Microsoft itself through the United States FTC explain, among other things, why the PlayStation 5 version of Like a Dragon came out later.
In emails dated June 1, 2020, Xbox executives Phil Spencer, Sarah Bond and Damon Baker (the latter is no longer at Microsoft) talk about how Xbox accidentally ended up with a console exclusive next-gen as a result of certain conflicts between Sega and Sony.
To recap, these were the release dates for Yakuza: Like a Dragon:
- On January 16, 2020 in Japan for PS4
- On November 10, 2020 worldwide (except Japan) for PS4, PC, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S
- On February 25, 2021 in Japan for PC, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S
- On March 2, 2021 worldwide for PS5.
Apparently, Sega had signed with Sony a one-year exclusivity period for Yakuza: Like a Dragon, in the Asian territory, between January 16, 2020 and January 16, 2021. During this period, Microsoft could not release the game on Xbox in Japan. However, it could be launched in other regions. Additionally, the game’s Xbox publishing terms that Sega had signed with Microsoft indicated that Sony could not release the PlayStation 5 version of Yakuza: Like a Dragon until Microsoft had done so.
This meant that Xbox could release the next-gen version of Yakuza: Like a Dragon worldwide, except in Japan; and could not publish it in Japan, because in this territory, it was Sony who had the exclusivity of the game, for the PlayStation 4 console. However, the contract signed with Microsoft did not allow the PlayStation 5 version of Yakuza: Like a Dragon to be released. launched in Japan before the Xbox Series X version. Therefore, Sony had to wait for Microsoft to launch the Xbox Series be able to publish its next-gen version.
Taking advantage of these circumstances, Xbox bosses even considered publishing a special edition of the Like a Dragon-themed Xbox Series
Although Phil Spencer has assured that the leaked information corresponds to old information, we have been able to access documents about a possible new digital-only version of the Xbox Series X/S and the plans for a possible successor for it in 2028.