Following an announcement from Sega that it would be be pulling its action adventure game Judgment off the shelves in Japan, 97% of its worldwide stock sold out. The reason why? Drug-related controversy involving one of the game’s actors.
Earlier this month, actor Pierre Taki was arrested in Japan and tested positive for cocaine use. Taki’s voice and likeness is used for one of the major characters in Judgment, the latest from the team at Sega behind the Yakuza series. And despite producer Daisuke Sato saying on Twitter that Taki’s contributions would not be erased, Sega announced that Taki’s voice and likeness would be replaced.
During a Sega Nama broadcast, chief creative officer Toshihiro Nagoshi expressed disappointment that controversy was behind the sales boost. “I’m bummed that it sold like there was a last-minute surge in demand,” said Nagoshi. “But I did kind of think, ‘Why didn’t you just buy from the start?’ Of course I’m glad in any case [and] sell-through was about 97 percent. Worldwide inventory is nearly gone.”
It’s been surmised that the controversy’s effect was two-fold: negative publicity creating genuine interest in the game, and fans wanting to snag copies before Taki’s voice and likeness were fully replaced in subsequent editions of the game.
Nagoshi also touched on the controversy saying that discussions began swiftly on how to deal with the problem. “I cast my vote for halting sales because it was just after release. If it was an older game released a considerable amount of time ago, our priorities may have been different, but when it was something that had been released only several months prior, I think it’s a different conversation.”
Judgment was released for PlayStation 4 in Japan last December, and is set for a Western release on June 25. The Western release will feature a different character model and Japanese voice actor for Taki’s character, Kyohei Hamura.