Toshihiro Nagoshi, creator of the popular Super Monkey Ball and Yakuza franchises, has left SEGA to pursue “a new journey”. Nagoshi had been with the company since 1989, and also worked on hits like Virtua Fighter, Daytona USA and Shenmue. Yakuza series producer Daisuke Sato will also be leaving Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio and SEGA. Sato has been a frequent collaborator with Nagoshi since 1995, so we presume he will continue working with Nagoshi wherever the pair end up next.
In August, it was rumoured that NetEase had approached Nagoshi with the offer of making his own studio. It seems likely that he has accepted. This move is part of a larger wave of Chinese media companies like NetEase and Tencent expanding their businesses into Japan with new anime, manga and video games as regulations get stricter in their home country.
The changes at Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio were announced in a blog post on the RGG Studio website, which also detailed the new team structure in which studio veteran Masayoshi Yokoyama will become RGG Studio’s Director and Executive Producer. In a heartfelt message, he said that he and the remaining team would “continue to do our best and let our games do the talking.” as they push forward on the highly anticipated sequel to 2020’s Yakuza: Like a Dragon, which will continue the story of new protagonist Ichiban Kusaga.
Nagoshi had nothing but supportive things to say about the new RGG Studio, saying “Though I don’t know for sure what they will create, I believe the new generation will further enhance the foundation we built over the years and deliver great games to the world. To achieve that, they too need to continue to learn, challenge themselves, and grow. I ask that you continue your support of the studio’s endeavors.”
Sato was similarly supportive, encouraging them and saying he believes “…that the studio has the power to not only continue the Yakuza series, but also to carry on that momentum even further beyond. The studio’s talented personnel are very capable of accomplishing this, which is why I can leave it in their care with confidence.”
We look forward to seeing the next iteration of Yakuza, as well as whatever Nagoshi and Sato decide to do next. RGG Studio recently released both Lost Judgment and Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania on Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5, but they stick to such a yearly schedule that we’re sure it won’t be too long before we hear about the next thing. As soon as we know what it is, we’ll let you know.