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June 3, 2008

Master Ninja Leaves His Village

Ever since I found about this around 4:00 A.M., I didn't want to report on it, but it's about time I do. Tomonobu Itagaki, creator of the "Dead or Alive" series and the modern "Ninja Gaiden" series, head of TECMO development branch Team Ninja, and overall genius Japanese developer ahead of his time and culture has resigned from TECMO and filed a lawsuit against the company for their injustices towards him. His full statement reads:

I, Tomonobu Itagaki, hereby announce that on the 14th of May 2008 I filed a complaint in the Tokyo District Court against Tecmo Co., Ltd. for unpaid completion bonuses, and against the President of Tecmo, Yoshimi Yasuda, for such unlawful acts as unreasonable and disingenuous statements made towards me, claiming damages in total of 148 million yen. I also announce that this complaint was delivered to the defendants on May 22nd of the same year.

In addition, I hereby announce that I have today submitted a letter of resignation to Tecmo Co., Ltd. stating that I will resign as of the 1st of July, 2008.

Before the start of development on DEAD OR ALIVE 4, Tecmo Co., Ltd. had agreed to pay a completion bonus to me for this Xbox 360 title, which I produced. However, when the time came for the actual payment, Tecmo Co., Ltd. went against its previous agreement and refused payment. President Yoshimi Yasuda chose not only to violate this agreement, but also turned defiant, telling me "if you are dissatisfied with the decision not to pay the bonuses, either quit the company or sue it." In addition, he made demeaning remarks about me to my subordinates and colleagues, causing me significant emotional distress and worsening my personal relationships and work environment. Thus, I have no choice but to resign from Tecmo Co., Ltd.

The conduct of Tecmo Co., Ltd. and its president Yoshimi Yasuda towards me has been unbefitting of a publicly-listed company.

I have filed this lawsuit with a strong intent to question the social responsibility of Tecmo Co., Ltd. and its President Yoshimi Yasuda, as well as condemning them for their unjust acts. Today, in addition to announcing the reasons for this lawsuit, I make clear my reasons for resigning.

To All Game Fans

I truly feel sorry to all the fans of the games I have made. NINJA GAIDEN 2, which will launch on the 3rd of June will be the last NINJA GAIDEN I will create. I will also never be able to make DEAD OR ALIVE 5. I regret the circumstances that have forced me to leave Tecmo, where I had worked for so many years, and I regret the disappointment this will cause my fans.

However, I can no longer continue to work with President Yoshimi Yasuda, a man who chooses not to honor promises even when he is able to do so.

I truly hope that nothing like this happens again in the future.

Tecmo Co., Ltd. Creative Officer
Leader, Team NINJA

Tomonobu Itagaki

Microsoft also released this:

"Tomonobu Itagaki has decided to leave Tecmo and Team NINJA to pursue other opportunities. We thank Tomonobu Itagaki for the many years he has supported Xbox as he has contributed immensely to the success of the videogame industry as a whole."

It's really hard to predict Itagaki's next actions as a developer. He's too proud and egotistical for a Japanese company, and too Japanese for an American company. I see two possibilities:

-Microsoft picks up Itagaki since he has been their most valuable Japanese developer since the original Xbox and gives him his own side branch to continue making projects. They could possibly even buy the rights to DOA and NG from the recently failing TECMO and give it to Itagaki to continue his work. I see this scenario likely since Microsoft even published NGII for Itagaki.

-Itagaki forms his own company and hires many of his own TEAM NINJA employees. They would form new IP's and have more freedom than they did under TECMO. Microsoft would likely publish for them since they did so for NGII.

Nobody knows what the future holds for Itagaki, but I hope he finds his way and continues making great games. I hope this will be the final nail in TECMO's coffin, since they wronged the man who kept the company alive in the 90's.

Long live Tomonobu Itagaki.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Its always very sad to see a developer like that go. Especially to his or her fans.

But hopefully, like you said, this could be a good thing. He could make his own development studio and run under Microsoft's publishing.