According to a new report at Bloomberg from Takashi Mochizuki and Zheping Huang, Sega Creative Director Toshihiro Nagoshi is in final negotiations to move over to Chinese technology company NetEase’s gaming division. Nagoshi is best known for his work on the Yakuza franchise these days, but has played a role in several of Sega’s key franchises throughout the 1990’s and 2000’s, including Virtua Fighter, Daytona USA, and Shenmue.
The report goes on to discuss the battle between NetEase and their main rival, Tencent, as they try to establish a global foothold in the gaming industry, which includes investing in a number of Japanese studios and headhunting key staff away from their current positions. This comes at the same time as news that China is beginning to crackdown on the number of hours that children are allowed to game online, restricting everyone under 18 to three hours a week on weekends only. The news had a near-immediate effect on the stocks of gaming companies around the world, with companies from Ubisoft to NetEase taking a hit. Speculation is that NetEase (and Tencent) have concerns about the increasing instability of potential sales growth in their home countries.
If Nagoshi is hired away to NetEase, don’t expect him to start making mobile titles. A report from last year indicated NetEase started a new studio in Tokyo with the intent of creating next-generation console games. If they’re anything like Tencent, they’ll likely figure out that to reach different audiences, games with different appeal are required. miHoYo’s Genshin Impact has managed to appeal to both console and mobile gamers alike, and NetEase already seems to be working on Onmyoji: The World, an adventure RPG which aims to be cross-platform and seems to be more graphically intensive than its cousins Onmyoji and Onmyoji Arena.