Itagaki Leaving Team Ninja, Suing Tecmo
Ninja Gaiden mastermind quits on the eve of new game's release.
By Philip Kollar
Last month, Team Ninja head and Ninja Gaiden director Tomonobu Itagaki suggested in an interview that he would be done with the franchise after the upcoming release of Ninja Gaiden 2. On Monday night we received a clearer picture of just what he meant with the announcement that Itagaki is leaving Team Ninja and suing Tecmo.
1UP received the following confirmation of this news from Itagaki aide Andrew Szymanski:
"At approximately 2:30 PM Japan Standard Time today, June 3 2008, an official statement from Tomonobu Itagaki was sent by fax to major Japanese news outlets. In the interest of fair and expedient reporting of this story throughout the English-speaking world, I have been asked by Itagaki to convey this statement to you. Herein find attached Itagaki's official statement, in English, for the benefit of your readers.
"...You will likely have questions regarding the content of the statement, or about Itagaki's future plans. I am afraid that I will be unable to answer such questions for the time being; however, rest assured that more information will be forthcoming as soon as it is deemed appropriate to do so."
The full text of the letter from Itagaki follows:
"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."
In addition to the allegations made in the letter, we've heard rumblings that Itagaki believes that Yasuda has focused too much on making a profit without a regard for quality. While Itagaki's official announcement does not point to any specific releases, recent Tecmo ports such as Rygar for the Wii and Ninja Gaiden Sigma for the PS3 are possible targets of Itagaki's anger, which would also explain recent interviews where Itagaki has been especially negative toward Sigma and has said that a PS3 port of Ninja Gaiden 2 would not be good. We've even heard rumors that Yasuda wanted to port Ninja Gaiden Sigma (a PS3 port of a rerelease of an Xbox title) to the Xbox 360 before he was talked out of it by Itagaki and others at Tecmo.
In the same interview we linked to above, Itagaki mentions that he intends for his next game to be "a brand new action game" that will be violent like Ninja Gaiden. It's safe to assume that this game will not be with Tecmo and probably that Itagaki knew that already when he started discussing it. We cannot speculate further as to what Itagaki might be up to next, but considering the timing, there's clearly some very bad blood between Itagaki and Tecmo. The outspoken game maker waited until the evening before Ninja Gaiden 2's release to make this announcement, which is sure to leave a slightly bitter taste in the mouths of many fans picking up their next dose of blood-soaked action.
We'll update with further details on Itagaki's departure and lawsuit as they are uncovered.
Additional reporting in this story by James Mielke.
I think it is better for him to leave tecmo, because he'll be better
off without them. But DOA was a good game and I hope that he is still
going to release the 5th installment. I personally think that Itagaki
is a pervert for that sexual harrasment suit and that ridiculous boob
factor in his games. His making the volleyball games was a mistake and
offensive to women everywhere!!!! NG has an awful camera, but good
gameplay, though! If MS does decide to take him, I hope the games he
makes there are appropriate with less boobage and ABSOLUTELY NO
RIDICULOUSLY PERVERTED VOLLEYBALL GAMES. But overall his games rule.
From what i have read so far, Tecmo treated the guy like dirt. If a company promises they will give me a bouns in a certain period (written in my contract)and then later rescind and say "you ain't getting squat, resign or sue" erm i will take the latter option any day
I think he should works with some of the producers in Sony and start making games for the ps3..we need some games like his on the Sony entertainment systems
One one hand, Itagaki is... well I wouldn't call him a "genius," but he does make good games. As much as I like Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive, I'd really like to see him do something else. Also, he does have every right to be pissed off at Tecmo.
On the other hand, he's a douche. He's arrogant and likes to talk smack about a lot of other games he says aren't good (but I think he's secretly jealous of them). Apparently, he can dish it out, but can't take it in.
April Fools....? WTF.
Didn't play his games too much, but still, that's weird and sort of sucks.
Itagaki is hardly the genius many people are making him out to be. Ninja Gaiden and DOA will be fine without him, possibly better. Those two properties are in serious need of fresh ideas.
Unless Tecmo can resolve their differences with him....they'll be reduced to making cleaning products again by this time next year.
If you're a fan of Ninja Gaiden or Dead or Alive, this sucks. But hey, at least now we won't see any more crap like Dead or Alive Volleyball-- or will we? *DUN DUN DUNNNN...*
....really sucks how he has to leave his Team due to how he was treated....he really revived Tecmo for his high profile games...a shame that he can't continue the series...
...I hope they leave his games in capable hands....=/
Wow. This is pretty sad news considering that most of the games he made were pretty good. Let's hope DOA5 is good considering that DOA4 was rushed and a disgrace to the Dead or Alive franchise.
I wonder how Tecmo will handle their franchises that Itagaki played such a big part in making. I also wonder where Itagaki will go (if anywhere) after this.
... leave the company. It doesn't matter how good you have it, that is not a work environment where you can thrive. Just let others know why you are leaving, and the connections with good talent there may follow your lead and seek work with you in the future.
to the fans with that statement. He's a smart man.
It's no point disgruntling a genius. Smart move dumb asses @ Tecmo.
If Itagaki thinks that by leaving Tecmo and suing it he'll both be able to make awesome games still and get all of his money than more power to him. I don't care who he works for, while his games aren't the best games ever made, they are pretty damn good and it would have been a shame to see him leave the videogame ring. Now that he's not leaving the game ring though, hopefully he'll be able to focus on what he wants to focus on instead of what the head of the company wants him to, like another port of Ninja Gaiden.
His legal beef with the company's one thing, but why leave the company? I guess he thinks his vision's being compromised, but can't he find a way to gain control of what he's part of?
I guess he doesn't need the studio to continue doing what he wants in the style he wants, but I never expected him to break ties with Team Ninja.
I really can say that i have followed this man great work since the Sega Dreamcast and he was the man who made me fall in love once more with fighting games on that console or in any console (after not touching any fighting games since the first street fighter). My first game on the xbox was DOA 3 and till this day it is one of the most beautiful game on the xbox. I have owned all the games he directed on the xbox, i even bought the DOA collector edition arcade sticks that where made for both DOA3 and DOA4 from KOEI company, i will truly miss all the hard work and magic touch he had on all the games he supervised i would like to thank him for all the hard work and the priceless moments of entertainment he brought to my life because really the world you brought to us to interact with and be part of with your games were truly amazing and good luck on your next project i cant wait to see what the great Master of team ninja can bring to this generation of gamers.
He makes a buncha games that look like your controlling shiny plastic manikins and gives us a shitty camera. He drops the ball on the Gaiden sequel... let's face it, the man ain't no Kojima.
I say good day sir.
It was a business decision. It wasn't about the bonus. Tecmo's president didn't want Itagaki undermining his position on multiplatform development and this was an easy way to get Itagaki to quit. Now Tecmo, who still has a pretty talented team, can develop for all systems, and Itagaki will find work as a developer elsewhere.
i loved doa 2 alot!!!
3 and 4 i could really care less about.
it is quit a loss though
the ninja gaiden games he did do were very good..
ninja gaiden ds is prob one of my favorite ds games..
you have to admit his interviews were always entertaining..
i wish him luck!
i'm sure we'll hear from him
but I appreciate the guy for his honesty and boldness. I'll bet he's a little upset Sigma is the definitive Ninja Gaiden game. NG2 could have been better...
He's very arrogant and loves the smell of his own farts, but I do like his games.
The 360 fanboy in me hopes he signs on with Microsoft. But at the same time he could give Nintendo that violent, grown up edge that they sorely lack. Either would be good fits for him. I wish him the best and thank him for making such awesome games.
Tecmo is going to turn around and prostitute DOA and Ninja Gaiden with little effort, ala EA/Activision (given that Itagaki laid an amazing money-making foundation for them). Boycott any future installments!
is he bashing ninja gaiden sigma its that bad of a game ? never played it
This will turn out well. Itagaki has been a leading force at Tecmo since the original Dead or Alive. His departure means he will be able to continue his style of games with a new company which appreciates his work. This could lead to the best sort of artist-business relationship. I'm sure he'll be fine. I just hope this doesn't screw up any future iterations of Tecmo Bowl.
Someone mentioned Microsoft. It would be a great idea. The problem is Shane Kim is a jellyfish. He exercises passivism. He thinks multiplatform titles are fine. He doesn't have the heart of a businessman.
The only tecmo games I've played were the DOA series games (Ninja Gaiden isn't my type of game) but other than that, whats left?
This could very much so be a good or bad thing for action game fans. Make no mistakes, tecmo is done, son. Losing him would be like nintendo losing miyamoto. I hope he goes to infinite, because adding him to the ranks of Mikami and capcoms other super developers would make for a perfect team.
Oh cry me a river. Tecmo is just going to suddenly fall apart because this bastard left the company? Oh noes, whatever shall we do?!
Itagaki is getting what's coming to him. First of all, he's a dishonorable man. Second of all, he disses other developers...including his OWN subordinates who made Sigma. Who does that?! I mean...lol? And finally, Tecmo should have fired his ass when that harassment lawsuit came around.
He may have been responsible for DOA and NG being good, but they're not going to die out because he's not around.
Sure, Itagaki can be a prick just like many pretentious artists, but I don't think he deserves to be shafted out of an agreement if that is true. Besides the incredible spot-on combat, there isn't much else about NG that keeps my attention. It sure isn't story/art direction. Perhaps now we can see a new side of what Itagaki has to offer.
I find the part where Tecmo's president said, if you don't like it then quit or sue us. And he took him up on both deals, so Tecmo deserves what's coming to them
Okay, saying that the Dead or Alive and Ninja Gaiden series are played out anyway is kinda fair (what could you add to that formula anyway?) But to say its ALL about boobs is unfair. I never see anyone talk about the ridiculous boobage in Soul Caliber!
Time for Tecmo to think up old franchises to try to bring back to life.
What is Tecmo without Itigaki?
Also, I hope Microsoft could get him a job, I really want a DOA 5.
I'm glad Itagaki left Tecmo, his reasons seem more than good enough and those series were getting pretty played out anyway. Another company will scoop him up and he'll be able to make another game without taking so much shit. I'm glad to see Tecmo will probably be hurting from this as well, they've been leaning on now one but Itagaki for quite awhile not, don't bite the hand that feeds or else it'll quit and sue you, lesson learned.
His completion pay probobly went to pay for lawyers cause of his affair with an employee that ended up accusing him of sexual harassment.
However suggesting NOT making a PS3 port was the dumbest thing he could have suggested. Dont get me wrong, Itagaki is a genius when it comes to planning and letting his thoughts become reality in his games, but to say that Ninja Gaiden games shouldnt be ported is absurd and selfish. Capcom went good on DMC4, why shouldnt they do the same with Ninja Gaiden 2? Um, cause its MS bollocks.
Seriously, I have NEVER purchased an xbox360 and I wouldnt plan to, EXCEPT for this Ninja Gaiden sequel. Which I STILL wouldnt pay top dollar for, Im asking for it for my b-day and xmas gifts. And to top it all off off my freinds STILL to this day have red-ring issues from the system. Sorry xbots, exclusives and faulty hardware arent my cup of tea, let along actually PAYING FOR ONLINE SERVICES.
Maybe Team Ninja can get on with making games that aren't all about ridonculous cup sizes and physically impossible bouncing or dominatrix CIA agents or gratuitous difficulty. It's a shame that Tecmo is (allegedly) withholding bonuses it's promised to Itagaki, but seriously. The man's games suck. Personally, wouldn't miss him.
And I agree, Itagaki IS tecmo. There is no Tecmo without Itagaki. Tecmo has just signed their death warrant.
Itagaki is Tecmo, i mean what other franchises come to mind when you think Tecmo? DOA and NG
Do it now!!!!!!
Who cares what happens to that self-centered asshole?
it's sole blue collar worker, it goes under. Itagaki is that blue collar worker. Seems like he's being totally honest, although an obnoxious asshole while he's at it. Makes you wonder if that sexual harassment thing was legit at all.
that means no more DOAX3
Does Tecmo have a single series they could lean back on? What the hell. They're totally going under.
and make a DOA CLONE but better with Blood EVERYWHERE!
He was an amazing developer which put out great games that really tested us in many ways. I can only hope MS picks him up and pays him double. we need more top developers.
"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."
funny. didn't he make demeaning remarks about his subordinates for them porting Sigma to PS3? doesn't matter much to me where the guy goes from here, as i never was a big fan of his games.
Itagaki was their visionary! I can only imagine they'll go the same way as Sega did.
I'm hoping non of the three console makers hire him; I'd rather see him start his own independent development firm; he has the talent and the connections to do so.
I don't care for DoA, but it's hardly a terrible game. And further more, what does that have to do with any of his points?
People are just looking for excuses to attack this man instead of dealing with his problems. He didn't get what he was promised for a game that sold ridiculously well. Wouldn't any of you be upset over that in your own jobs? Apparently not, but I sure as Hell don't believe it.
Maybe some people don't care for his games, but many do. Despite his over the top attitude there's been little reason to think he was anything but a nice a guy overall. Who cares what games he "insults"? Does this really hurt the feelings of game players that badly?
Personally, I'm kind of glad he's been pushing against pointless cash-in ports from Tecmo. I'd hope other people would too.
So I'm looking forward to what he works on next.
No wonder he Owned Dennis Dyack with his Ignore in that cameo appearance.
That this is how it went down, but I agree with Darryl, maybe a new series is just what the doctor ordered...
For 3 reasons: 1)He's not being fired, he's choosing to quit 2)He talks shit about Virtua Fighter, Zelda, Heavenly Sword, and God of War-Karma baby! 3)Microsoft will scoop him up w/ a fat raise.
This guys a joke. Dead or Alive is a terrible fighting game and the Ninja Gaiden games are basically unplayable with that awful camera. Hopefully now Tecmo can make some good games with this fuckstick out of the picture.
I like turtles.
I guess after reading the statement in the blog, I'm unclear, was the bonus supposed to be for DOA or NGII? The anticedant for "this game" appears to be DOA, but timing would seem to indicate it was related to NGII.
and honest man, i am shocked
hopefully he goes on to make a good NEW franchise, I loved Ninja Gaiden, DOA was ok I guess, though it's far down my list of favorite fighting games. It's about time he does something new, even if he has to go through this to do it.
Itagaki is a mastermind and he should be compensated for his phenomenal work. No more DOAs, no more ninja gaiden then tecmo might as well it the day cause they are done without these 2 franchises.
Clearly Itagaki has become a bit of a Prima Donna with his "Rock Star," persona and Yasuda resented Him for it. It was probably best for all parties involved. Itagaki gets a fresh start to re-imagine his "Brand" of gaming and Yasuda can make his quick profit before He sucks the life out of Tecmo's flagship console games.
Let's face it, Volleyball giggling, Demon-blending and Safari-fighting was "Jumping-the-Shark," anyways so something new from Itagaki is welcome. Perhaps He and Kojima can team up and blow our minds with something in the future . . .
I'd be pissed too if there was an agreement in place for bonuses that were not paid. No wonder he's been so negative lately. Maybe Itagaki can go work for M$ now or start his own studio.
For the fans. The bonuses, I can see him suing for it - if it's in writing, of course. But the emotional distress? I wonder how much emotional distress Itagaki has caused from people seeing his face. Or just being a general asshole in general.
But don't think those series are automatically over. The team who worked on Sigma is more than competent.
He's standing up instead of just "taking it". As well, this means we'll be seeing him try his hand at something new in the future.
First off, if it wasn't for Itagaki's DOA Series, Tecmo would've been long gone. The only profit that stingy company ever saw was from his creations. DOA and Ninja Gaiden made that company who they are. But without Itagaki-san, they'll tank. And I mean really hard! If he goes, then I go. Tecmo is dead to me!!!
Intersting. I wonder what prompted him to jump ship? Good luck to him.
Dont anyone try to stand up for Tecmo. I can see a traded company doing this. All the interest of the president in a company is to make sure that it makes proffits for its shareholders. Very little thought is given to employees in companies now. I bet that the President of Tecmo got his bonus though. Sue the fuck out of them and win big........Did you hear that???? Its the sound of stocks hitting the ground! Thats what Tecmo gets. Maybe they will learn that if you take care of your assets, then in turn, they will take care of you.
This is a huge blow to me...I was just commenting on how MGS will be coming to the end, and thinking of game series I love and well...Dead or Alive is my favorite 3D fighting game...I've loved it since DOA2 on the Dreamcast...this is a real bummer.
Itigaki-san was always a real inspiration for me, I still remember how he wrote an "itigaki says" article for a game magazine, telling a kid who played guitar to 'continue to play excellently and work towards perfection...eventually people will be forced to acknowledge your ability!'
I could really see him going independent like the Clover guys from Capcom...he'd be a great asset to many companies...Capcom...Microsoft Game Studios...Sega. Hell I'd love to see him conspire with the guy who did Killer 7 and No More Heroes. Regardless if people think he's a blow hard, the man had charisma in spades. :)
Have you ever played it?
And if you did...was it just too difficult for your cowardly sensibilities?
Good now maybe Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive could actually make a good game! Maybe, or maybe those games just suck too much ass.
Cheers to this article though.
...LOUD mouth, Unless Those Bonuses were in "WRITTING".
Here is the Best part..."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."-itagaki
Oooooooooh please!!! Coming from this guy! Besides being a pompous loud mouth This PERV harassed female employees and belittled his own co-workers responsible for Re-making/porting Ninja Gaiden SIGMA on PS3.
Ninja Gaiden 2 SIGMA (Yr later) CONFIRMED With a MUCH BETTER camera angle/view by Tecmo Just to piss him OFF.
Capcom needs to hire him. It only makes sense, considering the direction of his games and the direction of Capcom's games.
Well, I applaud this man for standing up to the GREEDY CORPORATE SWINE out there who feel, in part, that they themselves are the reason for their riches.
<b><strong>HOW QUICKLY WE FORGET HOW THE BEE STINGS AND THE FIRE BURNS!</b></strong>
Now they [TECMO] will surely feel the sting and burn caused not by bee or fire, but, by Itagaki himself!
I look forward to his next project, and back him 100% in any of his future endeavors for I know, as well as the rest of you, they will surely be of great quality and the excellence that could only come from the mind of ITAGAKI!
Since he's always been one of the only supporters of the Xbox in Japan, Microsoft would certainly do well to pick him up. I think MS will treat him a lot better than Tecmo did. Man, that's really sad. Well, I hope he'll be happy and continues to make games he believes in wherever he goes.
The Stocks Will sure Drop with this news! Tecmo just lost their bread and butter!
WOW is all I have to say!
Itagaki as head of the team that work on the new Shinobi would be SICK!!!!
HMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM Could it be the Xbox 360?
Well here's hoping that Microsoft Game Studios gets him and he can continue to make the games that he wants to make. Still can't wait to play NG2 later today!
Thank god he's gone.... maybe we'll get some games from them not starring real dolls with huge assets
good for him, yasuda is a dick
What the first one is one of my favorite games, and I haven't played the second one yet. But I know I will love it!
Wonder where he will end up next? Maybe he will start up his own company. Sad to see no more Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive games from him. At least Team Ninja could probably make DOA5 without him.
damn it. i was looking forward to it.
I kinda feel bad for the guy. First accusations of fondling a co-worker and now this.
I'm sure whatever he does in the future, it'll be one kick-ass violent game.
No more Mario games?! No more Zelda?! <Assumes the fetal position>
I would have bought the first Ninja gaiden for the third time had Sigma been released for the 360 as well.
Did not see that coming.Though it does suck, this could be for the better. Perhaps with a new team he can branch out of the "itagaki" aesthetic that accompany his games, and give us a new visual flair to go along with the great gameplay his games tend to have.
Everyone knew something was up, though. Most likely he's starting a new dev studio to replace the lost Japanese Microsoft Games Studio heads.
IM a huge Fan of itagaki his games are what keep me playing!! this is devastating for me as a gamer!!!!!!!!!!!!!
i give him 6 months before he has his own MS funded game studio up and running, i wont be surprised in the least
holy crap, no more NG and DOA games from Itagaki-san. that sucks! :(
Itagaki actually sounds like a normal human being in this...It's pretty sweet actually.
The conduct of Tecmo Co., Ltd. and its president Yoshimi Yasuda towards me has been unbefitting of a publicly-listed company.
This is me wrecking your stock!