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Ex-Yakuza developers form new studio

Nagoshi Studio established under Chinese game giant NetEase

Kiryu from Yakuza Kiwami Image: Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio/Sega
Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

The lead creators behind Sega’s Yakuza series have a new studio: Nagoshi Studio. It’s named for the former head and founder of Sega’s Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio, Toshihiro Nagoshi, who will serve as CEO and representative director of the new game developer.

NetEase Games officially announced the formation of Nagoshi Studio on Monday, saying that Nagoshi and his team “will focus on developing high-quality console titles that will be released globally.” Nagoshi Studio has not yet revealed its first project.

Nagoshi was a longtime employee of Sega, and worked on the original Daytona USA, the Super Monkey Ball series, and many Yakuza and Judgment games. Nagoshi left Sega in 2021 to strike out on his own, with assistance from NetEase, the Chinese gaming company that recently acquired Goichi “Suda51” Suda’s Grasshopper Manufacture and has made significant investments in Western developers like Bungie and Quantic Dream.

A photo of Toshihiro Nagoshi and eight other developers at Nagoshi Studio on a white background Image: Nagoshi Studio/NetEase

Joining Nagoshi at his new studio is a long list of former Sega and Yakuza veterans, including producer Daisuke Saito, programmer Koji Tokieda, producer/director Kazuki Hosokawa, planner/game designer Masao Shirosaki, engineer Mistunori Fujimoto, artist Naoki Someya, director Taichi Ushioda, and artist Toshihiro Ando. In a news release, NetEase said that Nagoshi Studio “enjoys full authority to manage and create the kinds of games that they are passionate about, with NetEase Games’ support.”

Sega’s Yakuza series kicked off with the original Yakuza (aka Ryu Ga Gotoku in Japan) in 2005. The most recent entries in the series, Yakuza: Like a Dragon and spinoff sequel Lost Judgment, were released in 2020 and 2021, respectively. Sega and Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio plan to continue the series without Nagoshi and his cohorts’ involvement. Masayoshi Yokoyama, the new director of Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio, said in an interview with Famitsu last year that a follow-up to Yakuza: Like a Dragon is in development, as are other unannounced projects.

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