The development and marketing cost of Shenmue was over 47 million dollars, which was the most expensive video game ever developed at the time. Although this cost also covered some of Shenmue II and groundwork for future titles, Sega did not come close to recouping the cost. Sega later made a release on Xbox of Shenmue II in North America in 2002 and in Europe in 2003. When this also didn't help to alleviate the costs involved, the series was put on indefinite hold.
Yu Suzuki tried several avenues to raise funds for Shenmue III. including creating massively multiplayer online games set in the locations of the first two games. The first, Shenmue Online, announced in 2004, never materialized. After forming his own company, Ys Net, in 2008, while still remaining employed at Sega, Yu Suzuki began a new attempt at a Shenmue MMO in hopes that it would be popular enough to provide income to fund the series. Things didn't pan out that way, as Shenmue City was released in 2010 for mobile phones in Japan, but it was discontinued in 2011 after only a year of service.
Yu Suzuki tried the avenue of crowdfunding for Shenmue III through a Kickstarter campaign in 2015, and it became the fasted funded video game Kickstarter up to that point. After the success of the Kickstarter, it went into full development by Ys Net and Nello, a studio whose chief executive Takeshi Harai, was the lead programmer on the first Shenmue. It is being partially funded through the Kickstarter, and will be published by Deep Silver. In addition, Sony helped with the marketing of the game.