Veteran developer Toshihiro Nagoshi, av Sega Rally, Monkey Ball and Yakuza fame, is in the final stages of negotiating a contract to leave Sega and join the Chinese company NetEase, according to a report on Bloomberg.
Nagoshi joined Sega in 1989, and has worked with everything from Daytona to Virtua Fighter to F-Zero GX. But it’s his latest blockbuster series, Yakuza games that now span eight main entries and a series of spinoffs, which may have made him most famous in the West, especially given his public appearance as head of their development studio, Ryu Ga Gotoku.
Bloomberg sier that although “has not signed a final contract and his tasks are still completed”, he will be “expected to set up their own team and make new games ”. It is speculated that this is a move by NetEase to strike back at rivals Tencent, who have spent big money on several developers around the world in recent years, from League of Legends the creators Riot two, more recently, PlatinumGames and Sumo Group.
Although Nagoshi’s departure is unlikely to have a direct impact on any of the series he has worked on recently, as they all belong to Sega and are made by large development teams, it will still be a blow for fans – and Sega himself – to see a man who is responsible for so many of the company’s biggest hits of the last 30 years leaving for a competing organization.
His departure, however, is not a total surprise; earlier this year, he resigned from Sega’s board and his role as Chief Creative Officer in the company, with speculation at the time suggesting that it was down to comments he made in 2020 about sports players:
It is speculation online in Japan that Nagoshi was pushed out in the wake of a controversial comment he made last year, and seemed to mock Puyo Puyo esports players. The producer said they seemed to be eating beef buns with cheese. The concept chiizu gyuudon gao (Beef ー ズ 牛 丼 顔) or “cheese beef bowl face” has been circulating online. Shortened to chiigyu (チ ー 牛) or “cheese beef”, this slang term is used to refer to people who live in the countryside, look very young, wear glasses and do not have big ambitions. It is a negative, scornful term to ridicule people who may not be considered “cool”.