In the second round of oral arguments for the Itagaki vs. Tecmo suit, Dead or Alive creator Tomonobu Itagaki submitted evidence that included an affidavit from Ninja Gaiden II producer Yoshifuru Okamoto, a contract from 2005 that seems to clearly state terms of the Dead or Alive 4 bonus and a voice recording of Tecmo president Yoshimi Yasuda. Itagaki is suing Tecmo over unpaid DoA4 wages.
Kotaku obtained copies of both the secret recording and the contract and translated both for this story.
The contract, dated March 4th 2005, covers "special incentives" for Dead or Alive 4. The "special incentives" program was proposed by the former president of Tecmo (the president before current president Yoshimi Yasuda) where all employees would receive a certain percentage of the profits from a big-selling game. The profit points would be distributed among members of the team with the highest share going to the senior employees. In the DoA4 contract Itagaki submitted, it clearly states that he is entitled to 6.66 percent of the earned profits from the project.
On January 22nd of this year, Ninja Gaiden II producer Yoshifuru Okamoto taped a conversation with president Yasuda. Why was the producer of Ninja Gaiden II recording conversations with the president of Tecmo? According to Okamoto's affidavit, Yasuda had continually harassed him, calling him an "idiot", stating he was "no good" and saying that Okamoto "had no class." Okamoto claims that he asked for a meeting with Yasuda so that he could understand why he was so negative towards him. During this meeting, Okamoto secretly recorded their conversation. (Note: Okamoto has since left the company and had been contemplating doing so for some time.)
And during this meeting, current president Yasuda admits that the special bonus incentive had in fact been submitted and approved by the board of directors before he became president and while he was still section director. Yasuda says that the special incentive scheme had been discussed and a ringi (a type of Japanese corporate approval form) had been signed by the board of directors. This is in direct conflict with Yasuda's court claim that this "special incentives" proposal was made single-handedly by the former president and not approved by the Tecmo board. Therefore, it is invalid. The recording helps support Itagaki's claim that this special incentive bonus was approved by Tecmo's former president and the board of directors, and that the current president knows this.
Also, during the conversation, Yasuda called Itagaki a "money grubber" because of the developer's desire to be paid incentives that had been approved by Tecmo. Yet in court, Yasuda has denied calling Itagaki a "money grubber." In Itagaki's statement, the game designer says that this audio recording is only a small part of concrete evidence he has. "I am prepared to reveal this evidence as the need arises for the sake of greater justice," Itagaki states.
We have contacted both Itagaki's representatives and Tecmo for comment on the story.