Toshi­hiro Nagoshi

Yakuza pro­ducer and head of Ryu Ga Go­toku Stu­dio

Did you ex­pect Yakuza to be­come a se­ries?

I hoped it would, but of course if the sales had been no good then it would have been over. That’s en­ter­tain­ment. I had a few vague ideas of what I would like to do in a se­quel, but mainly I was fo­cused on mak­ing a good game. The se­quel was de­cided very soon after the sales fig­ures came out for the first game.

Tie-ups with real-world brands and shops such as Sun­tory whisky and Don Qui­jote depart­ment stores have be­come a se­ries sta­ple. Where did the idea come from?

If you’re go­ing to cre­ate an im­mer­sive en­vi­ron­ment based on a real place, then the more real-world lo­ca­tions and brands the bet­ter, so I wanted as much of that as pos­si­ble. These days, the se­ries is a hit, so it’s easy to ne­go­ti­ate these tie-ups, but at the start no one knew what kind of game we were mak­ing, so it was dif­fi­cult to ex­plain. Most com­pa­nies turned us down.

The im­mer­sion and free­dom of the game of­ten draw com­par­isons with Shen­mue, which you also worked on.

That’s sim­ply be­cause both games are set in mod­ern-day Ja­pan. I don’t think there’s any other rea­son. Maybe there are just too few games like that.

How close was the fin­ished game to your orig­i­nal vi­sion?

I had a gen­eral vi­sion of how the drama and bat­tle parts should be, but it was the staff who ac­tu­ally filled in the blanks and fleshed it out into a proper game. I think the fi­nal game was bet­ter than I’d hoped.

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