How Twitter helped bring back the much-loved console game Shenmue

Twitter is a community that is full of passion and power.

Twitter isn’t only a place where gamers share tips, tricks, and awesome game footage. But this is the story of how Twitter helped revive the much-loved console game Shenmue.

Games go to Twitter to share tips, tricks, and game footage. But that’s not all. They also change culture on the platform bringing games back from the dead. This is the story of how fans of the classic role-playing game Shenmue brought this game back to life. 

Shenmue is a Japanese video game, produced and directed by Yu Suzuki, and developed by Sega in 1999. Fans regularly celebrate it on Twitter with the game even having its own day — the third day of each month is #ShenmueDay. It’s when people come together on Twitter to talk and swap stories about the game they love.

Shenmue II, the franchise’s last release was way back in 2001. Fans loved the game, so much so that they wanted it to make a comeback and they used Twitter to drive a campaign to do exactly that, raising funds for the creation of a long-awaited third instalment. 

And it worked. #Shenmue3 was on the way, 20 years after the last chapter was released. 

The crowdfunding campaign aimed for £1.6m ($2m) and in the end raised nearly four times that amount. It hit its original target in less than nine-hour after the campaign went live. The release of #Shenmue3 will come 20-years after the game first made its debut.

Neilo and Ys Net are developing the game and Deep Silver and hoping to publish it by the end of the year for Windows and Playstation 4. The story continues the quest of teenage martial artist Ryo Hazuki’s quest to find his father’s killer in 1980s China.

The passion shared on Twitter for Shenmue highlights one small corner on the platform where gaming thrives. It's why we focused on it as a part of a groundbreaking study to understand the audience on Twitter in the UK. The study uncovered the communities that thrive on Twitter and drive conversation. 

The study,1 using a combination of cutting-edge data science analysis2 and traditional market research, identified 75 subcommunities. It examined each to find out what motivates them and how brands can best engage with them. 

The gaming industry has come a long way since the ‎#retrogaming days of Atari arcades, the Commodore 64, and ZX Spectrum. On Twitter, gaming fans are redefining how the rest of the world sees the gaming community. The gaming industry has grown into a rapidly growing audience of ‎esports legends, gaming tribes, and hardware loyalists.

How do brands fit into Gaming Twitter?

Our study found that there are numerous ways that brands can connect with the gaming community. Here are the top three:

1. Esports sponsorship: Sponsoring esports players and tournaments is a great way to increase brand visibility on Twitter. It also further legitimises the sport and provides money for competitions, which is a win for players and tournament organisers.

2. Collaborate with gamers: Like in other interests, aligning with high-profile gamers is an effective way for brands to build affinity.

3. Increase awareness and promote inclusivity: Brands can help gamers challenge stereotypes and bring gaming to a broader audience.

1. Jaywing, Join The Dots, and Twitter, 'Flocks — Uncovering communities on Twitter', June 2019, UK

2. To conduct the research, Twitter partnered with data-science agency Jaywing (‎@jaywingsays) and insight agency Join the Dots (‎@WeJoinTheDots) to crunch and analyse the data based on follower graphs and Twitter bios. It combined this work with online diaries from each community, in-depth interviews, cultural analysis, and a quantitative survey (total n=1,500) to ensure the most robust results.

The analysis uncovered the unique roles that Twitter plays within each community and the reasons people engage with their communities. For brands, the research identified what they can do to make sure that when they get involved with these communities, they can be successful.


  • Audience Insights
  • Console Gaming
  • Perspective
  • United Kingdom
  • Media & Entertainment
  • Audience Targeting

Related content