Yakuza Creator Says Series Was Initially Shunned by Microsoft and Nintendo, But Now They’d Love to Have it
Toshihiro Nagoshi, now Chief Creative Officer at SEGA, created the Yakuza IP as well as others like Daytona USA and Super Monkey Ball.
In the latest issue of EDGE magazine, as transcribed by ResetEra user Eolz, Nagoshi discussed the process that led to the creation of the Yakuza IP. He also mentioned that Microsoft and Nintendo didn’t believe in Yakuza at first, which is why the games aren’t available on their platforms. They have changed their minds since, though.
It became difficult for Japanese companies to compete with western games of high quality and big budgets. If we wanted to, it would have to be sports, or military, or fantasy and it would need to release worldwide. Since everyone was thinking the same things, everyone was making similar games.
But I thought it wasn’t right to follow that direction. So, first, I abandoned the idea of selling worldwide. Next, I decided I wouldn’t mind if female players didn’t like the game; then that no children were allowed. When I decided all that, the only target left was the Japanese male.
My bosses took some convincing. I did a presentation twice and didn’t get approval.
Sega was struggling for cash and was very close to bankruptcy, so it merged with Sammy. As soon as it happened, I went to see the new owner and presented the game to him, looking for his approval. Professionally, this was highly irregular and quite wrong. But I knew if the owner said “yes”, it would be good for the entire company.
I got his approval, but our CEO was really mad about it. He said it was unfair.
I’ve never said this before, but while we released Yakuza with Sony, I’d done presentations about it to Microsoft and Nintendo. Back then they said, “No we don’t want it.” Now they say, “We want it!” They didn’t understand the reason why I created it.
I’m often asked how I did all the research, but it’s Japanese culture, but I did some of my own, yes. I like drinking. I also like women. I was having lots of fun in my life for a long time – whether to shake off my stress from work, or deepen the connection with my subordinates. I learned a lot of interesting stories from the people I met. And some surprising stories, and some sad ones. They became elements of Yakuza’s story. The name Kiryu is one of them (…). I often do that in my games – I use the name of a person I liked or who looked after me well. I still do that today.
Yakuza 0 just launched on PC, with Yakuza Kiwami already set to follow. Meanwhile, Nagoshi is working on a new Yakuza title, Shin Ryu Ga Gotoku, which will feature a brand new protagonist as Kazuma Kiryu has now retired.