Tomonobu Itagaki, head of Ninja Gaiden development studio Team Ninja, has announced he is leaving the group and suing parent company Tecmo for unpaid bonuses and “unreasonable and disingenuous statements” made by company President Yoshimi Yasuda.
An announcement reported by 1Up carried the news of Itagaki’s impending departure, which will take effect July 1. According to the press release, Itagaki’s work environment at Team Ninja was poisoned by Tecmo President Yoshimi Yasuda, who he claims made “demeaning remarks” to his coworkers and reneged on an agreement to pay a “completion bonus” for Dead or Alive 4. Itagaki said that when the game was completed, Yasuda not only refused to pay the bonus but “also turned defiant, telling me, ‘If you are dissatisfied with the decision not to pay the bonuses, either quit the company or sue it.'”
Itagaki first revealed his intentions to leave the Ninja Gaiden franchise in mid-May, although he gave no hint of dissatisfaction with the situation at Team Ninja. “I think we were able to achieve everything we wanted with this game,” he said in a May 14 interview with Kotaku, “so anything else would be extraneous.” The suit against Tecmo was filed on May 22, while the announcement of his departure was made immediately prior to the North American launch of Ninja Gaiden 2.
“The conduct of Tecmo Co. Ltd. and its president Yoshimi Yasuda towards me has been unbefitting of a publicly-listed company,” Itagaki said in his statement. “I have filed this lawsuit with a strong intent to question the social responsibility of Tecmo Co. Ltd. and its president Yoshimi Yasuda, as well as condemning them for their unjust acts. Today, in addition to announcing the reasons for this lawsuit, I make clear my reasons for resigning.”
Itagaki also apologized to his fans for being unable to create future Ninja Gaiden or Dead or Alive games. “I regret the circumstances that have forced me to leave Tecmo, where I had worked for so many years, and I regret the disappointment this will cause my fans,” he said. “However, I can no longer continue to work with President Yoshimi Yasuda, a man who chooses not to honor promises even when he is able to do so. I truly hope that nothing like this happens again in the future.”