Yakuza creator to leave Sega for Chinese PC & mobile dev NetEase

Toshihiro Nagoshi is reportedly in 'final negotiations' to join NetEase after a 32 year career at Sega.

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Toshihiro Nagoshi has had a prolific career at Sega that included lending his talent to or overseeing a number of iconic titles since he joined in 1989. That includes launching the Yakuza franchise and working on it over the course of the last couple decades. It seems, however, that his time with Sega and Yakuza are at an end. The longtime Sega veteran has been revealed to have been in talks to join Chinese developer and publisher NetEase and is reaching “final negotiations” with the company on the matter.

News of Toshihiro Nagoshi’s exit from Sega to join NetEase was recently revealed in a report from Bloomberg, who claimed it was part of an effort by NetEase to scoop up talent outside of China to expand its gaming efforts beyond the country in light of its escalation in gaming restriction. Having recently called online gaming “spiritual opium,” the Chinese government has pursued a number of new measures to crack down on time spent gaming by young people in the country. Rival developer and publisher Tencent has also taken measures to match NetEase in expansion outside of China, having seen it quarterly bottom line curtailed by government regulation.

Toshihiro Nagoshi's contributions at Sega and Ryu Ga Gotoku run as recent as the Judgment series, where he still acted as executive producer and writer.
Toshihiro Nagoshi's contributions at Sega and Ryu Ga Gotoku run as recent as the Judgment series, where he still acted as executive producer and writer.

Nagoshi’s exit from Sega comes as a surprise, nonetheless. The Yakuza creator’s efforts at the company have run the gamut of franchises since his arrival as a designer under Shenmue designer and Sega alumni Yu Suzuki. His work aided Shenmue, as well as Virtua Fighter and Virtua Racing before he helped launch the Yakuza series in 2005. Even then, Nagoshi’s contributions could still be found as recently as the Judgment spinoff series, where he still acted as writer and executive producer.

It’s likely a shock to many to see a veteran with as recent work as the Judgment games leave Sega after so long, but Nagoshi’s move to NetEase signals a major move by the giants of the Chinese gaming industry to expand their efforts beyond their country. It seems unlikely that the effort to scoop up strong talent ends with Nagoshi, especially as restrictions in China grow ever heftier. Stay tuned as we continue to follow this story.

News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. When he's not handing out beatdowns in the latest fighting games, exploring video game history, or playing through RPGs with his partner, he's searching for new food and drinks in the constant pursuit of good times with good people inside and outside the South Texas area. You can also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

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