Yakuza Creator Reportedly In Negotiations To Leave Sega For NetEase

Chinese video game company NetEase is reportedly in “final negotiations” with Yakuza series creator Toshihiro Nagoshi. If the deal goes through, Nagoshi will leave SEGA for Netease to set up a new team and create new games. In addition, internal sources also reveal that SEGA or NetEase will announce the deal sometime after September 24, 2021.

A report from Bloomberg states that Chinese tech companies like NetEase and its rival Tencent have been keeping an eye on Japanese studios and developers of late, mainly due to increasing regulation in China.

While both companies have a broad portfolio of big name titles, Tencent Genshin impact and Pokemon Unite, while NetEase owns Identity V—neither is particularly known for their single-player console titles. Nagoshi’s poaching by NetEase may then indicate that Netease wants to expand its reach into narrative single-player games such as Yakuza. While it is unknown whether this deal will give the rights to the Yakuza series, insiders say the creator was “expected to set up his own team and make new games”.

Toshihiro Nagoshi is a longtime SEGA veteran who has worked exclusively for the company since joining in 1989. Yakuza series (or Ryu ga Gotoku series as it is known in Japan) is what launched his career into the mainstream, Nagoshi is also responsible for the development of the Super Monkey Ball series and also F-Zero GX.

The fan-favorite producer would eventually work his way to the title of SEGA’s Chief Creative Officer. However, in April 2021, Nagoshi suddenly announced that he would be stepping down from his position and staying with the company as Creative Director. On the other hand, Nagoshi still seemed optimistic about future SEGA releases as he mentioned plans to release Yakuza and other Ryu ga Gotoku studio titles worldwide on the same day.

One of these upcoming titles is lost judgment, which will be released worldwide on September 24, 2021. If the sources are true and the Yakuza maker leaves SEGA for NetEase, the announcement is expected to come after this date, probably to avoid impacting game sales.