How Toshihiro Nagoshi, Daisuke Sato Leaving Sega Changes Yakuza 8, Judgment
The future of Sega, the Judgment series and Yakuza 8 following the departure of Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio producers Toshihiro Nagoshi and Daisuke Sato.
You heard the news, Sega and Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio announced this October 8, 2021, that Toshihiro Nagoshi has left his position as head of the studio developing Yakuza, and has left Sega as well – another original developer of the Yakuza series, Daisuke Sato, has left as well – here’s what it means for Yakuza 8 and the future of their new iconic series, Judgment.
Toshihiro Nagoshi’s role at Sega
Toshihiro Nagoshi joined Sega in 1989 and was involved in several legendary Yu Suzuki games such as Virtua Racing and Virtua Fighter. He was also a key designer on iconic Sega titles such as Daytona USA and the Super Monkey Ball series. He later launched the first Ryu Ga Gotoku game, on PS2, on December 8, 2005. Daisuke Sato was also one of the first key developers of the Yakuza series and became one of its producers.
Furthermore, Toshihiro Nagoshi became Chief Creative Officer of Sega in 2012 and heavily participated in the comeback of several cult Sega IPs such as Sakura Taisen and the new Shin Sakura Taisen (Sakura Wars) game on PS4. Nagoshi most notably directed the game’s reveal trailer himself, using his knowledge in film production.
While many believe Shin Sakura Taisen was a failure and how it’s one of the failed projects which led to Nagoshi leaving his CCO position at Sega, the only comments publicly made by Sega on the game’s sales are Nagoshi saying “I wish it sells a bit more”. And how they should definitely fully voice future games. Shin Sakura Taisen sold at least over 178,426 physical copies in Japan. We don’t have official data on digital sales numbers and on sales numbers outside Japan.
Furthermore, it’s irrefutable the mobile game Sakura Kakumei was a failure, closing in six months. However, the story claiming Sega wasted millions on the game is fake. I’m personally still clinging to the hope Shin Sakura Taisen 2 will be announced soon. Especially seeing a sequel was teased.
To learn more about Toshihiro Nagoshi, I recommend reading this chapter of Passion of the Game Designers by Keiichi Tanaka, romanticizing Nagoshi’s early days at Sega.
The future of the Yakuza and Judgment series
Toshihiro Nagoshi, on April 1st, 2021, stepped down from his Chief Creative Officer position at Sega but still stayed as at Sega itself and Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio. Now, he’s left these positions as well. According to a report from Bloomberg, he will be joining NetEase.
During the 15th anniversary stream for the Yakuza series on December 8, 2020, Masayoshi Yokoyama and Toshihiro Nagoshi already confirmed Yakuza 8 was in production. The game was reconfirmed today, with Ryu Ga Gotoku 8 being a tentative title. Plus, both producers heavily hinted this sequel will keep Kasuga Ichiban as the protagonist, and this was confirmed today. Lastly, they all but confirmed the JRPG turn-based system is staying as well. So Nagoshi’s departure doesn’t change much in that regard.
It’s important to note that the Yakuza series and Judgment weren’t solely handled by Toshihiro Nagoshi and Daisuke Sato. Masayoshi Yokoyama, who is now replacing Nagoshi as executive director and head of the studio, was also a huge key player. So we shouldn’t be worried about the future of the series.
What it means for Sega
Nagoshi was one of the major faces of Sega, even taking the time each month to do the SegaNama live streams with Ayana Tsubaki. The series ended in May 2021 after eight years. We regularly covered these on DualShockers, as Nagoshi shared many interesting tidbits on Sega including working conditions during the pandemic.
With Nagoshi’s departure, Sega is definitely losing one of its best developers ever. Personally speaking, I believe Sega is often only seen as that one Japanese company in games history that always took the wrong decisions. However, if you think of it in another way, Sega is exactly like Phoenix Ikki, always managing to come back even stronger after a crisis. I’m sure this time too will be no different, and future games by Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio will keep the same levels of excellence.