Yakuza creator quit Sega because he didn’t “want to become CEO”

Toshihiro Nagoshi has discussed the new project he’s working on and the reason for his departure from Sega.

Nagoshi, known as the father of the Super Monkey Ball and Yakuza series, left Sega in 2021 after 32 years at the company to join Chinese technology company NetEase. He later announced Nagoshi Studio, a subsidiary under NetEase Games, which would allow him to “do something different”.

In an interview with German gaming site 4Players, Nagoshi said it had not been creative differences that had led him to leave Sega, but that during his last few years at the company he was promoted to executive and management roles – something he wasn’t interested in.

“I said to the current owner, ‘Guys, I don’t want to be the CEO of Sega here’,” Nagoshi recalled. “I’m a player and a game maker, I want to continue to push my career in that way,” he said, adding that Sega was instead pushing him towards management.

With his departure, Nagoshi said he has been able to refocus on game development whilst maintaining a friendly relationship with Sega, and doesn’t see a bad side to the split. “Sega can now develop someone [else] into a future CEO. So I think that the interests of both sides – that is, Sega’s and mine – are best protected,” he stated.

As for what’s next, Nagoshi said he couldn’t reveal much about the game his studio was currently developing, but said he wanted it to be “more like a Quentin Tarantino film”.

Nagoshi listed the elements he wanted to include in the studio’s new IP, which seem quite typical of a Yakuza game. Violence, humour and “a human touch, some silliness and some seriousness” is how Nagoshi described it – elements from Yakuza’s formula which that series perfected over the years.