Toshihiro Nagoshi

Toshihiro Nagoshi (Japanese: 名越 稔洋, Hepburn: Nagoshi Toshihiro, born June 17, 1965) is a Japanese video game producer, director and designer. He was the chief creative officer[1] for Sega until 2021 when he became creative director. He went on to be the general director of Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio,[2] and later became a member of the board of directors for Atlus.[3] He joined Sega in 1989.[4] After 30 years in the company, Nagoshi left Sega to join NetEase in late-2021, where he founded the studio Nagoshi Studio.[5]

Toshihiro Nagoshi
名越 稔洋
Toshihiro Nagoshi 20140125.jpg
Nagoshi in 2014
Born (1965-06-17) June 17, 1965 (age 57)
Alma materTokyo Zokei University
OccupationGame producer, designer, director
Years active1989–present
EmployerSega (1989–2021)
Nagoshi Studio (2021-)
Toshihiro Nagoshi Signature.png


Working at Sega AM2Edit

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.[6] 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.[7][8] 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.[9] Nagoshi has said that there is no developer that he learnt more from than Suzuki.[8]

CEO of Amusement VisionEdit

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.[10] 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.

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 asked for 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.[8]

Development of Yakuza and company promotionsEdit

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 Games, 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. 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. 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.[11] The stories are also based on his real life experiences in dating, partying and overall just having fun.[9]

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.[8] As of 2009, Nagoshi supervised all research and development of consumer game development at Sega.[12] In 2010, Nagoshi's project Binary Domain was revealed, 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.[13][14]

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.[15] 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.[16] 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.[17]

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.[18]

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 January 2021, it was announced by Sega that Nagoshi would not be chief creative officer anymore but instead would take creative director as a position.[19]

Establishment of Nagoshi StudioEdit

In October 2021, it was announced that Nagoshi would be leaving both Sega and Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio along with series director Daisuke Sato. The series producer and writer Masayoshi Yokoyama would become the new studio head in place of Nagoshi who was in the position since the beginning.[20]

Toshihiro Nagoshi, Daisuke Sato, along with their former SEGA employees established a new studio called Nagoshi Studio, which will be a subsidiary under NetEase Games

Personal lifeEdit

Nagoshi grew up in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi in a small port town. His upbringing was rather cold as he had a closer relationship with his grandmother more than anyone else. His father was known to be in perpetual debt, something for which Nagoshi was frequently ostracized by other children. As an adult, he elected to leave his hometown for Tokyo and enroll into Tokyo Zokei University. Nagoshi has said that his interest in video games and game development was sparked when his girlfriend at the time gave him a Famicom with a copy of Super Mario Bros.. After gradually working his way up at Sega, he decided to return to his hometown in an effort to repay all of his father's numerous debts. In a tragic turn of events, a fire burned down his childhood home and claimed the life of his grandmother. His parents were physically unscathed, though his mother was left mentally scarred to such an extreme extent that she allegedly could not even recognize her own family. As a result of this, Nagoshi's relationship with his father deepened. Nagoshi has said that these events served as the primary source of inspiration for Yakuza's narrative.[11]

Asked about his personal appearance, fashion style and how it changed over time, Nagoshi says he adapts to what his current girlfriend is into.[21]


Game Company position Role(s) Year Ref(s)
G-LOC: Air Battle Member of AM2 1990 [22]
Rent-A-Hero Artist 1991 [23]
Virtua Racing Chief Designer 1992 [17]
Virtua Fighter CG Designer 1993 [11]
Daytona USA Chief Designer, Director, Producer [9]
Virtua Fighter 2 Stage Designer 1994 [24]
Scud Race Producer, Game Director 1996 [24]
Virtua Fighter 3 Character Modeling Direction, Supervisor [24]
Spikeout: Digital Battle Online Chief Designer, Producer, Director 1998 [24]
Daytona USA 2: Battle on the Edge Producer [24]
Spikeout: Final Edition Chief Designer, Producer, Director 1999 [24]
Shenmue Supervisor (R&D Dept. #4), Producer, Director [24][17]
Slashout President of Amusement Vision Producer 2000 [24]
Planet Harriers Producer, Director [24]
Daytona USA 2001 Producer, Game Director, Design Director 2001 [24]
Spikers Battle Producer [24]
Monkey Ball Producer, Director [11]
Super Monkey Ball [24]
Super Monkey Ball Jr. 2002 [24]
Super Monkey Ball 2 [24]
F-Zero GX Producer 2003 [24][25]
Sonic Heroes Officer of Sega Corporation Development Division [24]
Sonic Battle Executive Management [24]
Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg [24]
Shining Force: Resurrection of the Dark Dragon President of Amusement Vision Executive Producer 2004 [24]
Spikeout: Battle Street Producer 2005 [24]
Super Monkey Ball: Touch & Roll Manager of NE R&D Producer, Director [24]
Yakuza General Supervisor/Producer [24]
Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz Producer, Director 2006 [24]
Yakuza 2 Original Concept, General Director [24]
Sonic Riders Officer of Sega Corporation Development Support [24]
Nights: Journey of Dreams Chief Producer 2007 [24]
Ryu ga Gotoku Kenzan! Manager of NE R&D Original Concept/Setting, General Director 2008 [26]
Sonic Unleashed General Manager of Consumer R&D,

Sega Corporation

Chief Producer [24]
Valkyria Chronicles
Thunder Force VI [24]
Phantasy Star Portable [24]
Phantasy Star 0 [24]
The House of the Dead 2 & 3 Return [24]
Wacky World of Sports 2009 [24]
Sonic and the Black Knight [24]
Puyo Puyo 7 [24]
Phantasy Star Portable 2 [24]
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games [24]
7th Dragon [24]
Bayonetta [24]
Yakuza 3 Manager of CS1 R&D Original Concept/Setting, General Director [24]
Kurohyō: Ryū ga Gotoku Shinshō General Director 2010 [27]
Yakuza 4 Original Concept/Setting, General Director [24]
Valkyria Chronicles II General Manager of Consumer R&D,

Sega Corporation

Chief Producer [24]
Vanquish [24]
Super Monkey Ball: Step & Roll [24]
Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I [24]
Resonance of Fate [24]
Sonic Colors [24]
Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing R&D Creative Officers [24]
Sonic Free Riders Chief Producer [24]
Yakuza: Dead Souls Manager of CS1 R&D General Director 2011 [24]
Super Monkey Ball 3D Chief Producer [24]
Sonic Generations General Manager of Consumer R&D,

Sega Corporation

Puyo Puyo!! 20th Anniversary [24]
Rise of Nightmares [24]
Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games Executive Supervisor [24]
Binary Domain General Director of Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio General Director 2012 [24]
Yakuza 5 [24]
The House of the Dead 4 Chief Creative Officer of Sega Corporation Chief Producer [24]
Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit Executive Producer [24]
Phantasy Star Online 2 Executive Supervisor [24]
Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II Chief Producer [24]
Rhythm Thief & the Emperor's Treasure [24]
Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F Executive Producer [24]
Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games Executive Supervisor 2013 [24]
Sonic Lost World Chief Producer [24]
Hero Bank Producer 2014 [18]
Ryu ga Gotoku: Ishin! General Director of Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio General Director [28][29]
Puyo Puyo Tetris Chief Creative Officer of Sega Corporation Chief Producer [24]
Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F 2nd Executive Producer [24]
Yakuza 0 General Director of Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio Executive Director 2015 [24]
Tembo the Badass Elephant Chief Creative Officer of Sega Corporation Executive Producer [24]
Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai DX Executive Supervisor [24]
Puyo Puyo Chronicle Chief Producer 2016 [24]
Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice [24]
Yakuza Kiwami General Director of Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio Executive Director [24]
Yakuza 6: The Song of Life [24]
Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games Chief Creative Officer of Sega Games Executive Supervisor [24]
Yakuza Kiwami 2 General Director of Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio Executive Director 2017 [24]
Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Future Tone Chief Creative Officer of Sega Games Executive Producer [24]
Valkyria Revolution [24]
Sonic Mania [24]
Sonic Forces [24]
Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise General Director of Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio Executive Director 2018 [24]
Puyo Puyo Champions Chief Creative Officer of Sega Games Executive Producer [24]
Shining Resonance Refrain [24]
Valkyria Chronicles 4 [24]
Judgment General Director of Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio Based on a story by, Executive Director [24]
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 Chief Creative Officer of Sega Games Executive Producer 2019 [24]
Team Sonic Racing [24]
Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD Executive Management [24]
Sakura Wars Chief Creative Officer of Sega Games Executive Producer [24]
Yakuza: Like a Dragon General Director of Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio Executive Director 2020 [30]
Virtua Fighter 5: Ultimate Showdown Creative Director of Sega Corporation Creative Director 2021 [31]
Lost Judgment General Director of Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio Based on a story by, General Director
Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania Executive Management [32]


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