According to Bloomberg, an anonymous source has stated that Chinese Corporation NetEase is in final talks to poach Yakuza and Super Monkey Ball director Toshihiro Nagoshi from Sega.
This likely is part of NetEase and rival Chinese publisher Tencent’s strategy to expand further into international video game markets in chasing mass global appeal and due to the higher restrictions being placed in their home country by the Chinese government.
If the Yakuza director was to move to NetEase he would likely be given his own new studio to create new games. That being said, he has yet to sign an actual contract with NetEase. The contract is allegedly being discussed in private and if it goes through is going to be made public later this year.
Nagoshi is a veteran developer, who founded the development studio Ryu Ga Gotoku within Sega CS Research and Development No. 1. He is currently helming one of Sega’s most successful franchises with the Yakuza series and is currently working on Super Monkey Ball: Banana Mania.
In recent years, Chinese tech giants have made greater strives to find success in foreign markets. For companies like NetEase and Tencent, the latter being the largest video game publisher in the world, this includes expanding further in Japanese and Western video game markets. The ultimate goal is to create big blockbuster brands that can be used across several mediums like games, movies, and books.
This is especially urgent as the Chinese government has recently announced a new tech security law that will see a higher regulation on the handling of sensitive data. Companies found mishandling ‘core sensitive data’ can be shut down, have licenses revoked, and be fined millions. This does not bode well for large Chinese tech giants who want to grow their monopolies.
NetEase has recently created a new Japanese studio with a focus on console development. It is possible that Nagoshi could be asked to work within this studio or start a new one.
As of right now, neither NetEase nor Sega has commented on Nagoshi’s position in either company.
Nagoshi’s latest game, Super Monkey Ball: Banana Mania will be released on October 5th for PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and PC. The game will even feature guest characters in the form of Kazuma Kiryu from Nagoshi’s Yakuza series and Morgana from Persona 5.