Ex-Ryu ga Gotoku Studio general director and now head of Nagoshi Studio, Nagoshi Toshihiro, and other founding members of Nagoshi Studio: Satou Daisuke, Hosokawa Kazuki, and Shirosaki Masao, talked about their new studio in an interview in the 10 February 2022 issue of Weekly Famitsu.
Official website: https://nagoshistudio.com/
The interview begins with Nagoshi saying that reason for him leaving Sega is because he wanted to do something different. He is not sure if the timing for doing so was early or late, but either way, he says it is a refreshing feeling that he has not felt since he entered the industry 30 years ago.
Regarding the name of the studio, Nagoshi says that he did not have much trouble coming up with it: He wanted to show his resolve by putting his name there, and also prioritized it being easy to recognize for gamers. As for the logo, he says that the speech bubbles are supposed to represent communication: At Nagoshi Studio, they intend to have the staff continuously participate in discourse to facilitate making dramatic games, and the logo expresses that.
When asked about what sort of games they intend to make, Nagoshi says that they aim to find the answer to what sort of entertainment will be popular all over the world, and that the games he previously worked on had parts which matched this, but also parts that did not. As they are Japanese, and the games were made by a Japanese studio, the market they understood the most was the Japanese one, and so while they did try to find what would work internationally, they were doing so with Japan acting as an axis.
Nagoshi thinks that doing this never got them the full answer, and wanting to seek it is another reason he made Nagoshi Studio. That being said, Japan will still be their axis. He thinks that because he has staff who worked on the Ryuu ga Gotoku (Yakuza) series for a long time, they will finally be able to reach “the next step”. This was something they were unable to achieve at Sega because big companies plan ahead for years and their products are made to fit such plans; game development in such companies thus results in content and budget being determined by these plans.
Nagoshi says that a reason he went independent is because he wanted to work on games without having to think about that framework: He discussed this with NetEase Games, and they were supportive in him saying that they wanted to do their own thing in terms of creativity, making what they want when they want. He does add, however that they do not intend on making games that are not feasible from a business perspective: They want to make things that gamers will enjoy, at appropriate timings. While the content could end up bolder than ever before, he still thinks they need to remain calm and keep an eye on the market.
When starting the studio, they had more freedom than usual over things that one would usually have to give up on when starting a new company, and Nagoshi thinks that on the flip side this also means that they do not have any excuses to make if things do not go right. Things might be difficult, but he thinks they will be overcome any hardship to create things.
Next, the interviewer asks about what the other staff members that Nagoshi brought with him from Sega are doing at Nagoshi studio. Satou handles not just creative work but also the management of the company, while Hosokawa as a designer now leaks the entire design team. Shirozaki manages development, but since he also bluntly states his opinions Nagoshi wants to get him involved with planning as well.
The other members are in positions where they can make use of their skills while also trying out new things, and Nagoshi says that all of them, himself included, are basically at one level below what they were at Sega, bringing them closer to the development floor. The team being more compact also brings Nagoshi himself closer to everyone else, allowing them to get together to discuss things as they go forward.
Nagoshi says that while each of the members that joined him has their own reasons and motivations for doing so, one thing that they do share is pride in what they have accomplished up to now, and a desire to try out something new. They may still be working for a company, but as it is a much smaller company, the work that they do leads more directly to what they wish to achieve. He also thinks that starting from scratch is something that anyone creator would find exciting.
When asked what sort of company he wishes to make, Nagoshi says that he wants one where every member of the staff is free to state their opinion. While this is not impossible in a big company, it inevitably can become very difficult, and with this smaller company he has realized how important this can be. Some opinions might be turned down in the end, but he thinks it is important to explain why they are turned down, and that the person who had the opinion is satisfied with the answer.
This can also lead to interesting ideas: Nagoshi says that while younger people tend to come up with more good and varied ideas, their lack of experience often results in these ideas having holes in them, and filling up these holes is the job of veterans. Communication is important to make that happen. He thinks that they need to consider the opinions of younger staff seriously, because if they became a company where the veterans decided on everything, there would be no meaning to them having started the new company at all.
Part 2 of this article, in which Nagoshi talks about the founding of Nagoshi Studio and discusses their first game, is available here: