Like a Dragon to be new name of the Yakuza franchise

During its showcase for the future of its Yakuza franchise, developer Ryu Ga Gatoku Studio announced that in the west, the franchise would now be rebranded as Like a Dragon. According to a Sega representative who spoke to Kotaku, the rebrand is to for consistency’s sake: in Japan, the series is known as Ryū ga Gotoku, aka “Like a Dragon.” 

Outside of Japan, Sega’s crime franchise has been known as Yakuza since the original game debuted in 2006 to better illustrate what the games were about. It’s not every day that franchises change their names, and perhaps the closest example was when Activision added “Call of Duty” onto the 2009 Modern Warfare 2as brand awareness for it was lower without the logo. 

The Yakuza name stuck for multiple installments until 2020, when the seventh installment was called Yakuza: Like a Dragon in the west, and Like a New Dragon in Japan. The only other instance of a name change for the franchise has been its spinoff series Judge Eyes, which is known as Judgment outside of Japan. 

Like a Dragon’s rebrand will make itself known beginning in February 2023 with the period piece spinoff, Like a Dragon: Ishin. The franchise will continue with Like a Dragon: The Man Who Erased His Name later that same year, and Like a Dragon 8 in 2024. 

The Like a Dragon franchise has come to be extremely popular in the west over time thanks to various sequels. Given how long the name has been running outside of Japan, it’ll be interesting to see how Sega gets the name change across for those not already in the know. 

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