Itagaki Leaving Tecmo, Suing Tecmo

Illustration for article titled Itagaki Leaving Tecmo, Suing Tecmo

Tomonobu Itagaki is leaving Tecmo and suing the company for unpaid bonuses. The Dead or Alive creator cites an unfulfilled Dead or Alive 4 completion bonus, stating, "President Yoshimi Yasuda chose not only to violate this agreement, but also turned defiant, telling me 'if you are dissatisfied with the decision not to pay the bonuses, either quit the company or sue it.'"


Tomonobu Itagaki's translator Andrew Szymanski contacted Kotaku, telling us, "At approximately 2:30 PM Japan Standard Time today, June 3rd 2008, an official statement from Tomonobu Itagaki was sent by fax to major Japanese news outlets. In the interest of fair and expedient reporting of this story throughout the English-speaking world, I have been asked by Itagaki to convey this statement to you. Herein find attached Itagaki's official statement, in English, for the benefit of your readers."

What does this mean for Itagaki's future? Szymanski does not know, adding, "You will likely have questions regarding the content of the statement, or about Itagaki's future plans. I am afraid that I will be unable to answer such questions for the time being; however, rest assured that more information will be forthcoming as soon as it is deemed appropriate to do so." Quitting Tecmo (and suing it) means the chances of Itagaki making Dead or Alive 5 are more dead than alive. Guess he wasn't kidding when he said Ninja Gaiden II would be his Ninja Gaiden swan song. Hit the jump for Itagaki's full statement.


I, Tomonobu Itagaki, hereby announce that on the 14th of May 2008 I filed a complaint in the Tokyo District Court against Tecmo Co., Ltd. for unpaid completion bonuses, and against the President of Tecmo, Yoshimi Yasuda, for such unlawful acts as unreasonable and disingenuous statements made towards me, claiming damages in total of 148 million yen. I also announce that this complaint was delivered to the defendants on May 22nd of the same year.

In addition, I hereby announce that I have today submitted a letter of resignation to Tecmo Co., Ltd. stating that I will resign as of the 1st of July, 2008.

Before the start of development on DEAD OR ALIVE 4, Tecmo Co., Ltd. had agreed to pay a completion bonus to me for this Xbox 360 title, which I produced. However, when the time came for the actual payment, Tecmo Co., Ltd. went against its previous agreement and refused payment. President Yoshimi Yasuda chose not only to violate this agreement, but also turned defiant, telling me "if you are dissatisfied with the decision not to pay the bonuses, either quit the company or sue it." In addition, he made demeaning remarks about me to my subordinates and colleagues, causing me significant emotional distress and worsening my personal relationships and work environment. Thus, I have no choice but to resign from Tecmo Co., Ltd.

The conduct of Tecmo Co., Ltd. and its president Yoshimi Yasuda towards me has been unbefitting of a publicly-listed company.

I have filed this lawsuit with a strong intent to question the social responsibility of Tecmo Co., Ltd. and its President Yoshimi Yasuda, as well as condemning them for their unjust acts. Today, in addition to announcing the reasons for this lawsuit, I make clear my reasons for resigning.

To All Game Fans

I truly feel sorry to all the fans of the games I have made. NINJA GAIDEN 2, which will launch on the 3rd of June will be the last NINJA GAIDEN I will create. I will also never be able to make DEAD OR ALIVE 5. I regret the circumstances that have forced me to leave Tecmo, where I had worked for so many years, and I regret the disappointment this will cause my fans.

However, I can no longer continue to work with President Yoshimi Yasuda, a man who chooses not to honor promises even when he is able to do so.

I truly hope that nothing like this happens again in the future.

Tecmo Co., Ltd. Creative Officer

Leader, Team NINJA

Tomonobu Itagaki



Tim Rogers

This is just "The Itagaki Way" of doing to Tecmo what Shinji Mikami did to Capcom — what Hironobu Sakaguchi did to Square-Enix, what Yoshiki Okamoto did to Konami (when he founded Capcom) and then Capcom (when he founded Game Republic); what Kozy Okada (Shin Megami Tensei, Persona) did to Atlus, et cetera, et cetera.

Creators within companies have always had certain degrees of autonomy; these companies have always been fragmented, to paraphrase a friend of mine I'm chatting with right now. It's just that recently, these things are becoming apparent.

This legal matter was Itagaki's "get out of jail free card"; he stored it up, and used it on the eve of the completion of his last project.

Now he's getting out, the same way guys like Shinji Mikami did. And you know what? It's not a bad idea. At all. As a person with "experience" in the "Japanese games industry", I can say with utter confidence that the big companies like Namco are generally owned and operated by hell-fearing liver-spotted coal-tar-shitting wooden-teethed soulless octogenarians who can and will drive franchises into the ground, shelve good ideas for years because they're not ready to entertain their audience that much yet, because doing so would only raise their expectations, which would increase workload, et cetera.

I am not at this time, willing to declare that Itagaki is a visionary or a genius, though I recognize that he's an intelligent individual and he's probably making the right decision — both in leaving Tecmo, and in making a big deal out of it.

Now that the serious part of my comment is over, I will say this:

Bashcraft, give Itagaki my phone number. Tell him I have an opening in my band, and that all he needs to do is stand on stage in his leather jacket with his hands on his hips, staring at me with a disgusted look on his face as I shred the guitar.

I will pay him in Ozeki "One Cup" sake and maid cafe gift certificates.