Chinese gaming mega corporation NetEase has entered “final negotiations” to nab Yakuza and Super Monkey Ball creator Toshihiro Nagoshi from Sega, according to a report from Bloomberg. The report states that the game-developing legend would be expected to form and lead a new team of developers to create games, though details on the contract have yet to be finalized. If Toshihiro Nagoshi is indeed set to join NetEase, he will leave Sega after being with the company since 1989. For now, he serves as head of Yakuza franchise developer Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio, and he was previously Sega’s chief creative officer.
Speaking with GameDaily.biz last week, Niko Partners senior analyst Daniel Ahmad explained that Chinese studios are becoming more interested in creating large-scale, AAA-quality games, especially for consoles. Examples of expanding interest include Black Myth: Wukong, Lost Soul Aside, and Bright Memory: Infinite, which are each being created by Chinese developers and have impressed Western audiences with clean visuals and engaging gameplay trailers. NetEase in particular already has new studios in Japan and Canada in hopes of expanding outside the mobile market Chinese companies are primarily known for.
How a potential Nagoshi exit to NetEase would affect Sega and the IP he’s involved with is unclear, but the Yakuza series will continue at Sega regardless, with many senior series staff still involved. Yakuza: Like a Dragon launched last year, and the franchise will see another entry via its Judgment spinoff series when Lost Judgment launches next month.