Longtime Yakuza series producer and Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio head Toshihiro Nagoshi may be in talks to leave Sega and join publisher NetEase. Bloomberg reports that the China-based publisher, which manages games like Naraka: Bladepoint, Identity V, Onmyoji, Knives Out, and Rules of Survival, has entered “final negotiations” to hire Nagoshi from Sega, where he has worked since his early career in the 1990s. [Thanks, Bloomberg!]
According to the article, Nagoshi would set up a new team to create new games for NetEase. However, his exact role and duties are not yet finalized. Should Nagoshi sign a finalized contract, he will move on, with Sega retaining ownership of the games he’s best known for, such as the Yakuza series, Monkey Ball, and Judgment. More about the negotiations or their outcome should be announced after September 24, 2021 .
Nagoshi isn’t the first Japanese games figure to attract offers from Chinese publishers. In recent years NetEase, Tencent, and other large China-based game companies have been reaching overseas, particularly to Japan and the U.S., to solidify their bids to expand globally. These efforts have ranged from licensing well-known brands for internally-developed games, to investments and acquisitions of known studios, such as Tencent’s buyout of PlatinumGames and Japanese publisher Marvelous, Inc.
The Tencent-affiliated TiMi Studio developed Call of Duty Mobile, as well as Pokémon Unite. NetEase is working on the mobile-based Diablo Immortal and Lord of the Rings: Rise to War, and produced the mobile editions of Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, a game led by Castlevania luminary Koji Igarashi. NetEase also opened its own console-focused development studio in Japan in 2020 headed by Tetsuya Akatsuka, a former Bandai Namco staffer.
The Yakuza series is immediately available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Lost Judgment, a sequel to Judgment, is due for release on September 24, 2021.