Story takes place in 2009, three years after the events of Yakuza 2. Kiryu leaves his old life behind and finally settles in Okinawa with his adopter daughter Haruka. He becomes headmaster of an Okinawan orphanage and dedicates his life to the children living there. His quiet life is shattered again when, Nakahara, a local Yakuza boss who he became friends with is attacked and gravely wounded by a man who looks like Shintaro Kazama (Shintaro Fuma in the English versions), Kiryu's late surrogate father who was killed during the events of the first game.
Kiryu again travels to Kamuro-cho to find the culprit. When he arrives, he is shocked to learn that Daigo Dojima, his friend and current chairman of the Tojo Clan is also attacked and wounded by the same man.
Kiryu attempts to solve the mystery and eventually caught in a plot which involves another possible civil war in Tojo Clan, Japanese Government, a vicious arms smuggling organization and CIA.
Like Yakuza 2, story takes place in two locations, this time in Kamuro-cho and Okinawa.
Yakuza 3 introduced the Karaoke mini-game, Chase Battles and "Revelations", special moments which inspire Kiryu to learn new fighting moves. "Feel the Heat" moments, special finishing moves for boss battles, which was added first in Yakuza 2 also improved.
A limited edition PlayStation 3 console was released in Japan called the "Nobori Ryuu Pack" (昇り龍パック), priced at ¥43,791 (45,980 inc. tax). The console is white with a dragon tattoo design, and came with a copy of Yakuza 3.
The North American version received considerable controversy when it was released in mid 2010 when Sega of America, in an attempt to release the game early, cut nearly 30 percent of the content, including the hostess dating and hostess maker mini game. Nothing from the main story was been cut, however.
This decision was reversed with PAL copies of the game, which went above and beyond what was expected, bundling the game with the renamed Ryu ga Gotoku 3 Original Soundtrack, all DLC and a PC program explaining who all the characters are.
Despite the cut content, game sold well in the overseas, promting Sega to release sequel Yakuza 4 in English. Cover of the overseas versions also criticized for being poorly made.