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Sega Initially Rejected Yakuza Creator’s Early Pitches

In a recent interview, Toshihiro Nagoshi, the creator of the Yakuza series, shared the challenges he faced getting Sega to approve the game. According to Nagoshi, Sega rejected his first two pitches for Yakuza, believing it wouldn’t appeal to a global audience.

Sega’s Strategy

Nagoshi pitched Yakuza in the early 2000s when Sega was struggling to release globally successful games. At that time, Sega wanted to create games with broad appeal, which led to many proposals being altered to meet management’s instructions. Yakuza, with its mature themes and focus on Japanese culture, seemed too niche for Sega’s global aspirations. As Nagoshi explained, “Children wouldn’t be able to play it, and it wasn’t catered to women nor overseas audiences.”

Success After Rejection

Despite these rejections, Nagoshi persevered and pitched the game multiple times until Sega finally approved it. This persistence paid off, as the Yakuza series has since become a significant success for Sega. In late 2023, the company announced that the series had sold over 21 million copies. The latest installment, Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, shipped one million copies in its first week.

Nagoshi’s New Venture

Nagoshi left Sega in October 2021 and established his own company, Nagoshi Studio, backed by Netease. He is currently working on a new game, which he promises will reflect his tastes and personality. While he hasn’t revealed much about the upcoming game, he assured fans that it will not be a carbon copy of Yakuza but will carry his unique creative signature.

Nagoshi’s journey from rejected pitches to creating a beloved game series demonstrates the importance of persistence and staying true to one’s creative vision.

Solomon Thompson

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