In the announcement on the Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio website, Nagoshi expresses his “sincerest and deepest gratitude” to fans. “I persisted and am here now thanks to what I learned from many people around me. It’s credit to the colleagues who supported such that I could hone my mindset to continuously push boundaries.”
“As of today, a new Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio is born where the series will live on. 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.”
We previously reported how Chinese internet technology and video game company NetEase were reportedly looking to poach Nagoshi. “People familiar with the matter” claimed he would set up his own team to make new games, but had allegedly not signed a final contract. Nagoshi had retired in January of this year as Sega’s Chief Creative Officer.
While Toshihiro Nagoshi leaves Sega and Ryu ga Gotoku Studio, producer Daisuke Sato is also leaving the studio and Sega.
He stated he believed 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.”
Coming in hot on the heels of the studio’s 10th anniversary, senior staff have been shaken up. The studio heads now include the following:
- Director of Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio/Executive Producer – Masayoshi Yokoyama
- Yakuza series Chief Director – Ryosuke Horii
- Yakuza series Chief Producer – Hiroyuki Sakamoto
- Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio Technical Manager & Lost Judgment Director – Yutaka Ito
- Yakuza series Art Director – Nobuaki Mitake
- Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio Animation Director – Takayuki Sorimachi
- Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio Visual Design and Cutscene Director – Daisuke Fukagawa
Director Yokoyama opens with a question, “What is Ryu Ga Gotoku?” In Japan, the Yakuza series is known as Like a Dragon– Ryu Ga Gotoku. Yokoyma then discusses how the announcement of Yakuza: Like a Dragon (becoming an RPG rather than an action game) caused lively discussion among fans that the studio learned from; “Things that change; things that should be protected; things that should be connected.”
Yokoyama continues, explaining how such ideas were never considered when the studio was founded, “desperately living day to day just trying to secure our future happiness. We had to sacrifice a lot to achieve that.” That devotion lead to a 10 year strong studio.
As Yokoyama notes however, “The world can change in a blink of an eye. And that requires us to change as well. It affects the way we work, the way we live, our morals and values, and even the way we make games.”
Noting that Ryu Ga Gotoku was synonymous with Nagoshi (most likely meaning both the studio and Yakuza series), Yokoyama did not want the studio to rely too heavily on that. “Although I had little influence at the time, I kept fighting for change. Ten years have passed since then, and that resistance I had felt has changed to a feeling of comradery over time and now, I am inheriting the studio from a great creator.”
Echoing the words he said on the studio’s launch, Yokoyama expresses his pride for working for the studio, and that it is “something I must protect.” “Now that you see me acting all cool in this photo [a group shot with the aforementioned staff], it’s going be extra uncool if the games don’t live up to our standards, so I’m going to give it my all and stay true to my words.”
Yokoyama concluded by announcing a sequel to Yakuza: Like a Dragon.