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access_time October 7, 2021 at 10:46 PM in News by David Poole

Toshihiro Nagoshi and Daisuke Sato Depart Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio as Team Restructures

Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio has announced that the team is restructuring for their future titles. As 2021 marks the 10 year anniversary for the studio, big changes are coming for the Yakuza and Judgment developer. Most notable is that Toshihiro Nagoshi and Daisuke Sato are leaving the studio for new opportunities. The company started as Amusement Vision back in 2000 before going through multiple revisions. In 2011, they finally became the Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio we know of today. With the announcement today, the studio wanted to give fans some clarity on the new changes.

With Nagoshi and Sato’s departure, studio veteran Masayoshi Yokoyama rises to the new Director of the studio. Ryosuke Horii will be the Chief Director of the Yakuza series while Hiroyuki Sakamoto will become the Chief Producer. Former programmer and Lost Judgment Director Yutaka Ito will be the studio Technical Manager as Nobuaki Mitake continues to be the Yakuza Art Director. Takayuki Sorimachi will be the Animation Director for the studio as Daisuke Fukagawa takes on Visual Designer and Cutscene Director. While some of these changes are new for the studio, many of these developers were already key players in recent games.

With Toshihiro Nagoshi departing, he had some words to say about the future of the studio:

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!

-Toshihiro Nagoshi

Toshihiro Nagoshi joined Sega in 1989 and has since been a huge contributor to the company working as a designer for games like Virtua Fighter and Spikeout. He was the president of Amusement Vision, who created the Super Monkey Ball series and even developed F-Zero GX. Working as both a producer and director, he also worked on the original Yakuza and has worked on the entire series and its spin-offs. When Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio formed in 2011, he held the position of General Director and founder of the developer. His contributions were a big impact on the Yakuza franchise, but he leaves the studio in what he believes are good hands.

Former Studio Head Daisuke Sato also had this to say about his departure and the future of the studio:

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.

-Daisuke Sato

Daisuke Sato joined Sega in the early 2000’s and worked on titles like 2005’s Spikeout: Battle Street before working on the first Yakuza game as a designer. He would continue to work on various projects before becoming Director on Yakuza 3. In 2012, he would also go on to direct Binary Domain, which he expressed interest in remaking. Like Nagoshi, Sato was heavily involved on the majority of Yakuza games.

Finally, the new Director of the studio and Executive Producer Masayoshi Yokoyama had a message for fans:

What is “Ryu Ga Gotoku”?

Two years ago when we announced Yakuza: Like a Dragon, there was a lively discussion among fans, and we were able to learn a lot from it.

Things that change; things that should be protected; things that should be connected.

Some of these were ideas that I’d never considered when we founded Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio.

Back then, we were desperately living day to day just trying to secure our future happiness. We had to sacrifice a lot to achieve that.

Perhaps, because we devoted ourselves to keep facing these challenges head-on, we were able to keep going for this long and achieved this milestone of 10 years as a studio.

The world can change in a blink of an eye. And that requires us to change as well.
It affects the way we work, the way we live, our morals and values, and even the way we make games.

Before Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio became truly established, “Ryu Ga Gotoku” was basically synonymous with “Toshihiro Nagoshi.”

However, I did not want to rely too heavily on that. So although I had little influence at the time, I kept fighting for change. Ten years have passed since then, and that resistance I had felt has changed to a feeling of comradery over time and now, I am inheriting the studio from a great creator.

In announcing the new structure of the studio, I contemplated what I should convey to everyone. Then, I remembered the words I said on August 31st ten years ago, onstage at the Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio launch announcement:

“I’m proud to be standing here as a member of the studio today.”

At the time, I had an immense sense of pride in “Ryu Ga Gotoku,” and that feeling hasn’t changed today. To me, it is something I must protect.

For fans who have supported the series and for actors and development staff, the games Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio creates must be something that all can be proud of.

This is what is necessary for “Ryu Ga Gotoku” to continue to be “Ryu Ga Gotoku.”

This time, I boldly stand in front of you with the key members of the studio to express my determination just as we did ten years ago.

Though, now that you see me acting all cool in this photo, it’s going be extra uncool if the games don’t live up to our standards, so I’m going to give it my all and stay true to my words.

I’m not going to say, “please believe in us!” We’ll continue to do our best and let our games do the talking.
And I hope that you would support and watch over the future endeavors of Nagoshi and Sato, who are embarking on a new journey just as we are.

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.

Thank you very much for your continued support.

– Masayoshi Yokoyama

While this is definitely a change for the studio, it looks like they’re dedicated to delivering the best games possible. Games like Yakuza: Like a Dragon and Lost Judgment definitely show promise for the future of the studio. Thanks to Yokoyama’s message, we also now know we can expect a sequel to Yakuza: Like a Dragon as well. Ichiban’s story will continue and we also look forward to more content for Lost Judgment.

What do you think about Toshihiro Nagoshi and Daisuke Sato’s departure? Are you fine with the new changes? Does the restructure worry you or do you think the Yakuza and Judgment franchises are in good hands? Let us know what you think in the comments below!


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