I love the Yakuza series. Tokyo is one of my favourite cities on Earth, and while I’ve been there plenty of times, I always look forward to going back. It’s nine hours and $1000 away, though, so that’s usually out of the question. But when I slide a Yakuza disc into my PS3 I can, for a night, make a half-assed trip, complete with karaoke-laden adventures and endless runs to convenience stores for snacky treats.

Nagoshi remarked that the Japanese console game market continues to grow bad, and the international market has also started to show slight signs of a drop. The current game market is facing a tough predicament. To combat this, it’s up to game designers to improve their analysis skills so that they can analyze problem areas and come up with a solution.

Using a free-to-play structure is attractive, but Nagoshi would like for his Ryu ga Gotoku Studio to at some point make an online game. It probably wouldn’t just be something like Yakuza Online, though.

Nagoshi was once told that, different from those who play sports professionally, game creators can make games forever. Now, he feels that this was a big lie. Companies will have to consider what responsibility they should take for their creators’ well being.

Ryu ga Gotoku Studio, makers of the Yakuza games, would like to make an online game, but it would have to be something more than just Yakuza Online.
Here are some excerpts from one of the best Nagoshi interviews I’ve ever read over at computerandvideogames.com. Nagoshi’s tenacity for creating games really shines through.

Both Yakuza and Binary Domain are set in Tokyo. Is Tokyo your inspiration?
When I first came to Tokyo it felt like such a big city, because I grew up in the country, and I was a little overwhelmed. But after I joined Sega, I got to travel around Europe, America and Asia and see all these different countries, and it made me understand just how special Tokyo is, and also how dangerous it can be. Tokyo is safe in many ways, but it can be dangerous too. I began to understand the values of this place better. Tokyo is a mysterious place for me, even now.
Even your futuristic subway looks just like Tokyo’s modern one…
Here’s the thing: we are Japanese people who live in Japan, and the world we can create most confidently is the world we live in for real. For example, if I were to think with my marketing hat on, obviously I’d conclude that a game set in the West will sell better in the West - or that’s what they tell me.
Yes, we could just as easily set the game in New York or London. But if we tried that it could only look fake. We could take a million trips to that city but no matter what, it would look fake. Even a team of top-class Japanese developers couldn’t make it look as real as a B-class studio based in that city. That’s not a limitation of technology; it’s a limitation of the heart.
I’d rather tell my stories in a setting I have complete faith in. And even if someone has never seen Tokyo, when they see the game they will nonetheless feel it’s real. They’ll understand that naturally. So forget the marketers; I wanted to make something real.
Yakuza is one of the few third-party games to stay exclusive to PS3. Why?
When we were deciding which platform was right, it was PlayStation 2. I wanted it to be on the number one platform, so I didn’t think twice before approaching Sony. The truth is, at first they turned it down. For the market at the time, they thought it was too niche; they were worried it wouldn’t sell, and I got a quite disappointing reply from them. But I kept pestering them, and eventually they gave it a closer look. That’s because they saw the passion I had for the game, rather than anything to do with whether or not it would sell. So I’m very grateful. In as much as they were putting their faith in Yakuza, they were putting their faith in me. So at the very least I am committed to Yakuza remaining a game for Sony hardware. I feel like we grew up together.
How have gamers’ tastes changed since the PS2, Xbox and Gamecube days?
Japanese games are not performing well abroad, so we have to think about how to turn that around. For example, Binary Domain was made by a Japanese studio and is set in Japan - it’s very much a ‘Made in Japan’ game. So now we must make a game that makes people realise that ‘Made in Japan’ is a good thing. I could change my name to… I don’t know, James or whatever, and make a game. But that’s not me. I’m Nagoshi, and anyone can tell that I’m Japanese.
I think Japanese games should wear that ‘Made in Japan’ badge with pride and march boldly into the Western market. When Japanese actors find success overseas, it’s not because they speak perfect English; it’s because they project an image of themselves as a Japanese individual. That’s what we need to do as well.

Here are some excerpts from one of the best Nagoshi interviews I’ve ever read over at computerandvideogames.com. Nagoshi’s tenacity for creating games really shines through.

Both Yakuza and Binary Domain are set in Tokyo. Is Tokyo your inspiration?

When I first came to Tokyo it felt like such a big city, because I grew up in the country, and I was a little overwhelmed. But after I joined Sega, I got to travel around Europe, America and Asia and see all these different countries, and it made me understand just how special Tokyo is, and also how dangerous it can be. Tokyo is safe in many ways, but it can be dangerous too. I began to understand the values of this place better. Tokyo is a mysterious place for me, even now.

Even your futuristic subway looks just like Tokyo’s modern one…

Here’s the thing: we are Japanese people who live in Japan, and the world we can create most confidently is the world we live in for real. For example, if I were to think with my marketing hat on, obviously I’d conclude that a game set in the West will sell better in the West - or that’s what they tell me.

Yes, we could just as easily set the game in New York or London. But if we tried that it could only look fake. We could take a million trips to that city but no matter what, it would look fake. Even a team of top-class Japanese developers couldn’t make it look as real as a B-class studio based in that city. That’s not a limitation of technology; it’s a limitation of the heart.

I’d rather tell my stories in a setting I have complete faith in. And even if someone has never seen Tokyo, when they see the game they will nonetheless feel it’s real. They’ll understand that naturally. So forget the marketers; I wanted to make something real.

Yakuza is one of the few third-party games to stay exclusive to PS3. Why?

When we were deciding which platform was right, it was PlayStation 2. I wanted it to be on the number one platform, so I didn’t think twice before approaching Sony. The truth is, at first they turned it down. For the market at the time, they thought it was too niche; they were worried it wouldn’t sell, and I got a quite disappointing reply from them. But I kept pestering them, and eventually they gave it a closer look. That’s because they saw the passion I had for the game, rather than anything to do with whether or not it would sell. So I’m very grateful. In as much as they were putting their faith in Yakuza, they were putting their faith in me. So at the very least I am committed to Yakuza remaining a game for Sony hardware. I feel like we grew up together.

How have gamers’ tastes changed since the PS2, Xbox and Gamecube days?

Japanese games are not performing well abroad, so we have to think about how to turn that around. For example, Binary Domain was made by a Japanese studio and is set in Japan - it’s very much a ‘Made in Japan’ game. So now we must make a game that makes people realise that ‘Made in Japan’ is a good thing. I could change my name to… I don’t know, James or whatever, and make a game. But that’s not me. I’m Nagoshi, and anyone can tell that I’m Japanese.

I think Japanese games should wear that ‘Made in Japan’ badge with pride and march boldly into the Western market. When Japanese actors find success overseas, it’s not because they speak perfect English; it’s because they project an image of themselves as a Japanese individual. That’s what we need to do as well.

I doubt I would leave this company in 10 or even 20 years. It’s not that I’m satisfied at Sega so much as I really owe one to Sega — they taught me how much fun making games can be. Unless something really drastic happens, I’m not going to leave on my own volition.


It’s hard to say whether the trend [of developers quitting large firms] is a good thing or for everyone’s best interests, but a creator needs to be someplace where he can shine the brightest, and that’s not necessarily always going to happen by going it alone.