Judgment Sales Halted in Japan Following Actor’s Drug Arrest, Western Release Uncertain

Donna Miller
March 14, 2019

The arrest of 51-year-old Pierre Taki might not sound like a big deal in the grand scheme of things - but for gamers who were hoping to get their hands on SEGA's keen new Yakuza spin-off, Judgment sometime soon, this might be disaster. Taki is being held in Koto Ward and may face a prison sentence of up to seven years for possession or use of cocaine. Pierre was tested for cocaine use through a urine test which came out positive.

Update 1:34 a.m.: The Wall Street Journal reporter Takashi Mochizuki reported on Twitter that Sega is now discussing its course of action regarding the western release of Judgment, and that a decision has not yet been made. This will affect both physical and digital sales. "We apologise for any inconveniences this may cause for customers, as well as the parties involved".

As well as halting shipments and digital sales, Sega has said it will delete tweets relating to the game. In the recently released remaster of the Japanese version of Yakuza 4, the voice and likeness of policeman Tanimura were recast after the original actor, Hiroki Narimiya, retired from the entertainment industry following unsubstantiated cocaine rumors. He is also the voice of the snowman Olaf in the Japanese version of Disney's Frozen.

According to Wall Street Journal reporter Takashi Mochizuki, Sega is now discussing how this situation regarding the Japanese retraction of Judgment will affect the western release of the Yakuza-spin off, which is now scheduled for release on PS4 June 25. At the time of writing, the game is still available on the PlayStation Store in Hong Kong and other regions in Asia.

CREDIT SEGA
CREDIT SEGA

The actor is a member of the pop group Denki Groove. As increasingly sophisticated graphics allow for near exact likenesses of real-world actors, who often go so far as to not only voice the characters, but provide facial motion capture, it becomes harder to separate the fictional character from the human performer, especially when the game's developer taps into their star power by playing up the celebrity's involvement in the game in marketing materials and through appearances at promotional events.

Judgment is due to be released in the United Kingdom and other countries in June.

This is not the first time that Sega has changed the course of a game because of an actor's conduct.

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