The creator of the Yakuza series, a franchise that has become far more popular in the west following the release of Yakuza 0 to the west in 2017, announced his departure from RGG Studio late last year after 3 decades with SEGA. While at the time it was not stated, rumors prior had suggested that series creator Toshihiro Nagoshi had been offered a new studio under Chinese publisher NetEase as they continued to push into the Japanese market.
After some speculation on what Nagoshi-San planned to do, it has been officially confirmed that he is indeed opening a studio with funding from NetEase. The studio, which is simply known as Nagoshi Studio, Nagoshi, clearly serves as CEO for the studio. The studio is only made up of 8 other members at this point, all of which join him from both SEGA and RGG Studio.
Nagoshi has been involved with the Yakuza series, Ryu Ga Gotaku in Japan, since the series launched in 2005. He has taken a more supporting role on titles in recent years, but he did help oversee the expansion of that universe that has occurred due to its newfound popularity, including the introduction of the spin-off series Judgment. Ironically, his first role as head of RGG Studios which was named after their flagship franchise was to direct one-off third-person shooter game Binary Domain.
NetEase has been trying to push into the Japanese market for much of last year, with another key acquisition on their part being Grasshopper Manufacture, the Suda 51 led studio that is known for developing No More Heroes. China has placed stringent regulations on video games, placing limitations on Chinese publishers and developers to sell in their country. NetEase and its chief competitor Tencent have viewed Japan as a viable location to grow in the industry from and have since focused large amounts of resources there, and in the United States.