NetEase, a major Chinese game company, is in “final negotiations” to hire Toshihiro Nagoshi, creator of the Yakuza and Super Monkey Ball franchises, away from Sega. This move occurs as major Chinese game companies NetEase and Tencent both attempt to snag key video game talent from Japan. Given Nagoshi’s storied career, a successful hire by NetEase would be among the biggest talent grabs yet by either company. The news comes from an exclusive report by Bloomberg’s Takashi Mochizuki.
According to Bloomberg, Nagoshi would be setting up his own team with NetEase and creating new games. Considering his career success, that seems like a safe bet for the company. As mentioned, the dude created Super Monkey Ball and Yakuza, two widely respected, major series and two of Sega’s only modern bright spots. He also played a big role in the development of GameCube classic F-Zero GX. In short, Nagoshi knows how to make a good video game.
As NetEase and Nagoshi close in on an agreement, industry analyst Daniel Ahmad weighed in and cited his previous elaborations on how Chinese video game developers are eyeing expansion into console game development en masse.
This is a good time to note that I spoke to @gamedailybiz about how Chinese game developers are making moves to expand into console game development.
— Daniel Ahmad (@ZhugeEX) August 30, 2021
The Bloomberg report additionally discusses Tencent and NetEase’s concurrent attempts to build up into international content empires spanning video games, animation, books, and other media. As the Japanese game industry reels from pandemic-spurred chaos, NetEase and Tencent are seizing a rare opportunity to acquire valuable Japanese assets with global appeal and to hire industry-leading Japanese talent.
Nagoshi’s departure would raise major questions for Sega. He has played a key role at the company for multiple decades, providing hit games and successful franchises (Yakuza and Super Monkey Ball, man!) that are a key part of Sega’s strategy today. Nagoshi leaving for NetEase directly creates a leadership vacuum at Sega that the company will want to fill as soon as possible.
As Mochizuki and Ahmad both indicate, however, Nagoshi leaving Sega could be just a drop in the bucket as NetEase and Tencent race to expand their empires. The industry’s current make-up may shift dramatically as these companies introduce themselves as major competitors within the global scene.