Yakuza gaming franchise creator Toshihiro Nagoshi is reportedly in final negotiations to leave SEGA for NetEase. This would mark a significant departure for Sega, which is set to release Yakuza spinoff Lost Judgment in September. In addition to being the creator of the franchise, Nagoshi founded the Yakuza franchise's RGG Studio and most recently became creative director for Sega earlier this year.
The report from Bloomberg indicates that should the talks conclude positively, Nagoshi would end up setting up his own team to create new video games. No final contract has reportedly been signed as of yet, nor have Nagoshi's exact duties been finalized, according to the report. The details of all of that remain unclear at this moment.
The same report more broadly notes that the negotiations with the Yakuza creator are just the latest in what will likely be a continued string of talks, investments, and acquisitions from Chinese video games companies looking to expand their reach. NetEase and Tencent are specifically mentioned by name as looking to work with Japanese animation, comics, and games to broaden their horizons as the Chinese government continues to create and enforce laws and guidelines to prevent gaming addiction in China among minors.
"Tencent and NetEase have been speaking to just about all publicly traded studios here and are actively courting some privately held developers, too," Kantan Games industry analyst Serkan Toto told Bloomberg. "They both feel pressure to make headway in Japan, especially since game regulations in their home market are becoming increasingly restrictive."
As for the Yakuza franchise itself, the most recent title Yakuza: Like a Dragon was released last year and is available for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One, and PC. The Yakuza spinoff title, Lost Judgment, is set to release for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Xbox Series S on September 24th. You can check out all of our previous coverage of the Yakuza franchise right here.
What do you think of the possibility of Nagoshi leaving Sega for NetEase? Are you excited to see what Nagoshi might create out from under Sega? Let us know in the comments, or feel free to reach out and hit me up directly over on Twitter at @rollinbishop to talk about all things gaming!