Yakuza creator Toshihiro Nagoshi reportedly in talks to go to NetEase

The developer could get poached as part of an ongoing talent rush

The creator of the Yakuza series is reportedly in talks to leave Sega for NetEase. Bloomberg reports that Toshihiro Nagoshi is in “final negotiations” to depart the company, where he’s been since 1989.

People familiar with the matter tell Bloomberg that the final contract hasn’t been signed yet and duties have not yet been finalized, but Nagoshi would reportedly be expected to set up his own team and create new games.

Bloomberg characterizes this as part of an ongoing contest between NetEase and rival Tencent to pick up video game talent from Japan. The two have reportedly struck more than 20 deals in Japan so far, and according to Bloomberg’s report, are zeroing in on individual creators.

Nagoshi has worked on a number of major Sega franchises, ranging from Virtua Racing to directing  Super Monkey Ball, and he’s also been very public-facing in his role as head of Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio, the team behind the Yakuza series. It may not be a death knell for Yakuza or its companion series, but it would be a noticeable loss.

NetEase did not respond to Bloomberg’s request for comment, while a Sega spokesperson told the outlet that it doesn’t comment on the employment status of individual employees.

Eric Van Allen