Having first been rumoured back in August, it’s now been confirmed: Yakuza series creator Toshihiro Nagoshi is leaving both Sega and his own Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio. Also joining him out the door is long-time series director and producer Daisuke Sato.
The pair both posted messages on the studio’s official site announcing their departure. Nagoshi’s says:
As I depart from SEGA, I’m also leaving my position as the head of Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio. Thank you to the fans who have supported us and the Yakuza series for many years. You have my sincerest and deepest gratitude.
I persisted and am here now thanks to what I learned from many people around me. It’s credit to the colleagues who supported such that I could hone my mindset to continuously push boundaries.
As of today, a new Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio is born where the series will live on. Though I don’t know for sure what they will create, I believe the new generation will further enhance the foundation we built over the years and deliver great games to the world. To achieve that, they too need to continue to learn, challenge themselves, and grow. I ask that you continue your support of the studio’s endeavors.
Once again, I would like to express my deepest appreciation to all of you. Thank you so much for your support. Stay tuned for the many new beginnings!
While Saito’s reads:
Thank you very much for your continued support of Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio.
On a personal note, I would like to take this opportunity to inform you that I am leaving SEGA to take a different path. Going forward, Series Producer Yokoyama will succeed the Studio Lead position, and Producer Sakamoto and Director Horii will become core leaders within Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio.
I have been involved in Yakuza’s development from the beginning and served as head of Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio for 9 years, so I feel a strong attachment towards it. It is sad to leave the place and colleagues who I shared many ups and downs with, but Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio has grown to a strong organization after 10 years since its birth.
I believe that the studio has the power to not only continue the Yakuza series, but also to carry on that momentum even further beyond. The studio’s talented personnel are very capable of accomplishing this, which is why I can leave it in their care with confidence.
I am very grateful for being involved in the series that has lasted for 15 years, and I would like to extend my gratitude to all the fans who have supported us, the staff who have worked together to grow the Yakuza series, as well as everyone in the industry that touched the Yakuza series in some way.
I look forward to seeing new titles and will continue to support Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio – this time, as a fan.
I hope the fans will continue to support the new Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio. Once again, thank you so much for your support over the years.
In some clear and obvious ways, this is a blow both for the studio and the future of the series. Yakuza is Nagoshi and Nagoshi is Yakuza, and while he had stepped back from frontline development of the series in recent years, the games simply wouldn’t be here without him.
Saito, meanwhile, has also played a huge part in the development of the series, serving as director on Yakuza 3 and as a producer on everything from Yakuza Kiwami to Judgment.
Yet the studio, wisely, prefaced both departure announcements with a long post by Ryu Ga Gotoku’s new director Masayoshi Yokoyama, who explains:
Ryu Ga Gotoku’s predecessors have passed down their beliefs and know-how to each and every staff member. You can witness it in the recently released Lost Judgment and will see it in the upcoming sequel to Yakuza: Like a Dragon which will continue Ichiban Kasuga’s story.
This game is currently being developed by producer Sakamoto and directors Horii, Ito and Mitake. I myself along with Takeuchi and Furuta are working on the story.
Whether it’s six months or one year from now, I hope to show you a new Ryu Ga Gotoku title by a new Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio that is different but still the same, and something that will spark a feeling of “this is what we are waiting for” within you. I’d like to continue on my life as a video game creator with earnestness.
Uh, six months please, a year is too long.