Yu Suzuki has offered some clarification on the involvement of third party companies in Shenmue 3's development, though perhaps not enough to quell the discussion entirely.
In an update on the game's Kickstarter page, Suzuki apologised to his backers for allowing the confusion around the role of Sony and Shibuya Productions to continue for so long. The emergence of crowdfunding as a credible way to raise development funds is the main reason that Shenmue 3 exists at all, he said, but the scale of the concept made "more traditional" sources of funding and support a necessary addition.
"Sony and Shibuya Productions have been wonderful partners because they believe in Shenmue and want to see the best for the fans and the game," Suzuki said. "Their investment in (and support of) Shenmue have helped to realise a sequel that will stand proud with its predecessors.
I can say that with their assistance Ys Net is able to use more of the money purely for Shenmue 3's development"
"While it is not business practice to discuss the specific details of such arrangements, I can say that with their assistance on the production and marketing end, and in Sony's case with some publishing support as well, Ys Net is able to use more of the money we collect through Kickstarter purely for Shenmue 3's development."
Suzuki also emphasised that Sony and Shibuya are, "not seeing a cent of your Kickstarter dollars."
However, this doesn't address every objection, particularly regarding Sony's role in Shenmue's campaign. In the comments on this website and far beyond, a company with such deep pockets using its E3 stage to prompt the public to fund a game with which it is directly involved has been called confusing, distasteful, and everything in between.
Sony's clearest statement on the matter was offered by Gio Corsi, director of third-party production, before Shenmue had even reached its funding target: "Sony and PlayStation is definitely a partner in this game, and it's going be run through Third-Party Production. We're going to help Ys Net [Suzuki's studio] get the game done. We're going to be partners on it the whole way."
Shenmue has now raised $3.6 million with 22 days to go. That means the last three days have yielded just $100,000, which would be an enviable achievement were it not for Suzuki's ideal target of $10 million. At this rate, Shenmue 3 will only add another $700,000 before its deadline, leaving it short of even its furthest stretch goal.