Sega's long-running Yakuza series already said goodbye to in-game hero when they retired old protagonist Kiryu Kazuma with their latest Yakuza: Like A Dragon. The series, and Sega, may be about to lose another familiar face with a lengthy career. Long-time Sega director behind the Yakuza series and Super Monkey Ball games Toshihiro Nagoshi is reportedly in talks to leave the company after 32 years. If he does make the leap, Nagoshi is expeted to start a new team beneath NetEase—the company currently behind mobile games including Diablo Immortal.
According to a report by Bloomberg, Nagoshi "is expected to set up his own team and create new games," citing people familiar with the matter. "He hasn’t signed a final contract and his duties have yet to be finalized," they add.
"NetEase wants to play a bigger role in developing the games and content it hopes will turn into international hits, while also burnishing its credentials as a global rather than purely Chinese firm," say Bloomberg's sources.
NetEase aren't alone in looking for talent to snap up Japanese studios and developers.
"Tencent and NetEase have been speaking to just about all publicly traded studios here and are actively courting some privately held developers, too," industry analyst Serkan Toto of Kantan Games tells Bloomberg. "They both feel pressure to make headway in Japan, especially since game regulations in their home market are becoming increasingly restrictive."
We do hear about Tencent's investments and acquisitions quite often. NetEase less so—around the RPS pages, anyhow. They're involved with the likes of Diablo Immortal and other mobile games. Last year they established Sakura Studio in Tokyo.
On a related note today is the announcement that China plans to restrict players under 18 from gaming every Monday through Thursday and allow one hour a day of play time Friday through Sunday. It's the latest in prevous restrictions on underage gamers in China. No surprise then that NetEase and Tencent are looking for developers and players that aren't beholden to the same regulations.