Toshihiro Nagoshi

Toshihiro Nagoshi (Japanese: 名越 稔洋, Hepburn: Nagoshi Toshihiro, born June 17, 1965) is a Japanese video game producer and designer. He is the chief creative officer[1] for Sega, general director of Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio[2] and a member of the board of directors for Atlus.[3] He joined Sega in 1989.[4]

Toshihiro Nagoshi
名越 稔洋
Toshihiro Nagoshi 20140125.jpg
Nagoshi in 2014
Born (1965-06-17) June 17, 1965 (age 55)
Alma materTokyo Zokei University
OccupationGame producer, designer, director, member of the board of directors
Years active1989–present
Toshihiro Nagoshi Signature.png


Nagoshi graduated from Tokyo Zokei University with a degree in movie production and joined Sega shortly thereafter, working for the second arcade department (AM2) under Yu Suzuki as a CG designer.[5] His first title as a designer was Virtua Racing. It was then when he found his niche at Sega due to his study of movies being useful at adjusting and implementing the right camera angles in early 3D games; this was a major turning point for him at Sega. Before that point, he stated, "It really didn’t take long for me to feel like I had come to the wrong place. But when I said I was lucky before, it’s because during the time I began working, 2D was on its way out, and the industry was switching to 3D." According to Nagoshi, despite the fact the change to 3D had occurred, "nobody had actually studied the techniques needed to work in a 3D space." He knew the basics and gave them advice; it was easier for him to apply his knowledge after the transition to 3D took place. In his own words, it made him feel like an actual lifesaver.[6][7] Afterwards, he worked on Daytona USA, where he was made director. Daytona USA was the first game to use the Sega Model 2 arcade hardware which produced very advanced graphics and was developed jointly with General Electrics, which was located in the US. When Nagoshi paid them a visit, he happened to see a NASCAR race, which inspired Daytona USA initially. In Japan, only F1 racing games were popular, though Nagoshi decided to not develop one. He cites this as his first instance to not follow a trend, something that he still pursues. He also says that he stayed persistent in creating a more difficult kind of game, despite what other people said. The development of Daytona USA brought great responsibility for Nagoshi as he was promoted into leadership positions relatively fast in comparison to anyone else. His next project, Scud Race became once again a very technologically advanced game, however due to expenses, made less money than Daytona USA, though still made profit. Afterwards, he mentioned he did not want to make any racing games anymore, thinking that he graduated from the genre. Next, he worked on Spikeout, a cooperative beat em 'up with up to four players. It was well received by players, although arcade operators complained that it didn't bring in much money, due to the players not needing many credits if they properly work together. Shenmue was the last time he worked with AM2 and Yu Suzuki; he first was a supervisor on the project but was dissatisfied with how the game went and asked for his own development division, which later became Amusement Vision. However, he was called in by the CEO at the time to get the game finished, and as a result, he had to serve as producer and director on the final months of development. He recognized that as one of the turning points in his career. The CEO knew that Nagoshi was the only person that Suzuki trusted.[8] Nagoshi has said that there is no developer that he learnt more from than Suzuki.[7]

Nagoshi became interested in console development as a result of Sega leaving the hardware business. Specifically, he was interested in developing for Nintendo and acquired information about the Gamecube at an early stage. The CEO of Sega at the time complained that games became too expensive to make, and Nagoshi told him that they couldn't do it any cheaper. As a type of protest, he developed a very simple and inexpensive game that just needed a lever to control with no buttons, just to prove that it was possible. That game was Super Monkey Ball, which initially launched as just Monkey Ball in the arcades. It didn't sell well in Japan, but became a hit overseas. The CEO was impressed, assuming that Nagoshi had the western market in mind, which Nagoshi didn't at all. As a game developer, Nagoshi wanted to know how Nintendo worked, and wanted to be a sub-contractor for them. After some thought in regards to which Nintendo franchise he wanted to work on, Nagoshi ended up developing an entry for the F-Zero franchise, which was F-Zero GX. While Nagoshi could not convince Nintendo on several things, Nintendo was considerably impressed by the final product and demanded the source code of the game, as the game achieved a much higher quality than they anticipated. The game also sold really well, which gave the team confidence in being a third party developer. When asked about the differences in how Nintendo and Sega developed games, he would sum it up with Sega being more flashy and having a more light-hearted attitude when it comes to new ideas. Nagoshi says that if he started working at Nintendo instead of Sega, he would have already quit the videogame industry.[7]

During the period of the PlayStation 2, the Japanese game development industry has started to lose relevance on a worldwide basis as they could not compete with the big budgets of Rockstar, EA and Activision. This is something Nagoshi had anticipated, so he did not try to compete and decided to double down on the Japanese market instead. With the game Ryu Ga Gotoku, which then was localized as Yakuza in western markets, the only market left was the Japanese adult male. The game had a difficult development cycle, as the first pitch was rejected by the higher-ups, due to expecting something different out of Nagoshi. At the time, Sega and Sammy merged to form Sega Sammy Holdings. The new owner and CEO of Sega Sammy, Hajime Satomi saw footage of Yakuza that was forcibly sneaked in a preview of upcoming Sega games, despite that it wasn't officially a project yet. Satomi took an interest in it, although the Sega executives were unhappy about this move. Through perseverance however, Nagoshi managed to get the project started. It was his most personal project, as the people in the game are often named after people that Nagoshi knew personally. The main character Kazuma Kiryu is named after someone very dear to him.[9] The stories are also based on his real life experiences in dating, partying and overall just having fun.[8]

In 2012, Nagoshi developed Binary Domain, which was his desire to tell a science fiction story, while also developing a game that actively competed against popular western games at the time.[10] In 2014, Nagoshi was involved in the multimedia kids franchise, Hero Bank, a superhero game that has money as a very important theme despite being aimed at kids.[11]

With the 2016 game Yakuza 6: The Song of Life the story of Kazuma Kiryu ended. Nagoshi wants to continue to explore different types of drama and expand the overall playerbase further.


In what has been called "a brief moment of remarkable creativity", in 2000, Sega restructured its arcade and console development teams into nine semi-autonomous studios headed by the company's top designers.[12] Nagoshi became president of the studio Amusement Vision, and he was not sure on how to approach his new role at first. He thought that consistently making profit would be for the best. His approach worked, as he was promoted to officer alongside Yuji Naka and Hisao Oguchi, who also ran profitable studios in the form of Naka's Sonic Team and Oguchi's Hitmaker. After a reorganization, the non-sports staff of Smilebit moved to Amusement Vision, thereby falling under Nagoshi's responsibility. Amusement Vision and Smilebit had different cultures and strengths, so Nagoshi thought it'd be best for the staff morale to start from scratch and to develop a new IP in the form of Yakuza. When developing the Yakuza franchise, Nagoshi learned the difference between nurturing one IP and making many types of genres during his time at Sega AM2 and Amusement Vision. He thought it was very valuable to see both sides.[7]

In February 2012 it was announced that Nagoshi would be promoted to the role of chief creative officer at Sega of Japan, as well as being appointed to the company's board of directors. He took up these positions on April 1, 2012.[13] In October 2013, once Sega Sammy purchased the bankrupt Index Corporation under the shell corporation, Sega Dream Corporation, Nagoshi was appointed as a member of the board of directors for the reformed Atlus.[14] As CCO, Nagoshi keeps being close to the games that his studio at Sega develops and stays up to date on the newest systems and technologies, although that is getting harder for him as he gets older. For the scripts of the Yakuza games, he still stays very involved, writing and adjusting whenever he feels like it.[15]

Personal lifeEdit

Nagoshi grew up in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi in a small port town. His upbringing was rather cold as he was closest to his grandmother than anyone else. His father was known to be in trouble with a lot of debt, therefore the other kids distanced themselves from Nagoshi. It was in his interest to leave his hometown for Tokyo and work hard to get into Tokyo Zekai University. The interest for video games and a career in video game development was sparked when his girlfriend at the time gave him a Famicom with a copy of Super Mario Bros.. When he continuously worked his way up at Sega and started earning his own money, he decided to go back to his hometown and repay all of his father's debt. In a tragic event, a big fire burned down the house he grew up in, claiming the life of his grandmother. His parents were unscathed, though his mother suffered from huge mental issues due to the shock, and could not recognize her family anymore. In-midst in all of this, Nagoshi bonded with his father more than ever before. This particular event gave Nagoshi inspiration for the storytelling in Yakuza.[9]

Asked about his personal appearance, fashion style and how it changed over time, Nagoshi says he adapts to what his current girlfriend is into.[16]


Game Role(s) Year Ref(s)
G-LOC: Air Battle 1990 [17]
Rent-A-Hero Artist 1991 [18]
Virtua Racing Chief Designer 1992 [15]
Virtua Fighter CG Designer 1993 [9]
Daytona USA Chief Designer, Director, Producer [8]
Virtua Fighter 2 Stage Designer 1994 [19]
Scud Race Producer, Game Director 1996 [20]
Virtua Fighter 3 Character Modeling Direction, Supervisor [21]
Spikeout: Digital Battle Online Chief Designer, Producer, Director 1998 [21]
Daytona USA 2: Battle on the Edge Producer [21]
Spikeout: Final Edition Chief Designer, Producer, Director 1999 [21]
Shenmue Supervisor (R&D Dept. #4), Producer, Director [21][15]
Slashout Producer 2000 [19]
Planet Harriers Producer, Director [21]
Daytona USA 2001 Producer, Game Director, Design Director 2001 [21]
Spikers Battle Producer [21]
Monkey Ball Producer, Director [9]
Super Monkey Ball [21]
Super Monkey Ball Jr. 2002 [21]
Super Monkey Ball 2 [21]
F-Zero GX Producer 2003 [21][22]
Spikeout: Battle Street 2005 [20]
Super Monkey Ball: Touch & Roll Producer, Director [20]
Yakuza General Supervisor/Producer [21]
Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz Producer, Director 2006 [20]
Yakuza 2 Original Concept, General Director [21]
Ryu ga Gotoku Kenzan! Original Concept/Setting, General Director 2008 [23]
Yakuza 3 2009 [20]
Kurohyō: Ryū ga Gotoku Shinshō General Director 2010 [24]
Yakuza 4 Original Concept/Setting, General Director [21]
Yakuza: Dead Souls General Director 2011 [20]
Binary Domain 2012 [21]
Yakuza 5 [21]
Hero Bank Producer 2014 [11]
Ryu ga Gotoku: Ishin! General Director [25][26]
Yakuza 0 Executive Director 2015 [20]
Yakuza Kiwami 2016 [21]
Yakuza 6: The Song of Life [20]
Yakuza Kiwami 2 2017 [21]
Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise 2018 [20]
Judgment Based on a story by, Executive Director [19]
Yakuza: Like a Dragon Executive Director 2020 [27]


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  2. ^ "特別インタビュー:龍が如くスタジオディレクター名越稔洋監督のゲーム作りとは". IGN Japan (in Japanese). 2016-09-10. Retrieved 2020-06-26.
  3. ^ "Who's in charge of Atlus now that Sega owns them?". Siliconera. 31 October 2013.
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  5. ^ "Toshihiro Nagoshi Interview - Summer 2006". Engadget. Video Games Daily. 22 June 2006.
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b c d モゲ, 齋藤. "セガ・名越稔洋が語るクリエイター活動30年史。200億稼いだ『デイトナUSA』開発秘話と、初めて明かす師・鈴木裕への想い【特別企画 前編】". Famitsu.
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  14. ^ "Atlus parent company Index Corporation being restructured within SEGA". SEGA Nerds. Lee Sparkes. 1 November 2013.
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  16. ^ Johnston, Lachlan (2019-02-06). "EXILE SEKAI Interviews Yakuza Creator TOSHIHIRO NAGOSHI (Part 1) - The Image of Yakuza". OTAQUEST. Retrieved 2020-06-26.
  17. ^ How Tech Limitations Shaped the Yakuza Series - IGN, retrieved 2020-06-26
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  22. ^ "Producer Nagoshi shows off F-Zero - News". Nintendo World Report. Retrieved 2020-06-26.
  23. ^ "龍が如く 見参!". GameStaff@wiki (in Japanese). Retrieved 2020-06-26.
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  25. ^ "世界に誇る二人のトップクリエイターがこだわる"ゴージャスな演出"とは?". ダ・ヴィンチニュース (in Japanese). Retrieved 2020-06-26.
  26. ^ kevingifford (2013-08-21). "Yakuza's producer and director discuss the new Ishin side-story game". Polygon. Retrieved 2020-06-26.
  27. ^ "Sega's Toshihiro Nagoshi: We'll Go Back to Traditionnal Yakuza Gameplay if Yakuza 7 Doesn't Sell". DualShockers. 2019-08-29. Retrieved 2020-06-26.