According to Bloomberg, Nagoshi is in “final negotiations” with the Hangzhou company, which is one of the largest video game companies in the world due to its large success in the PC and mobile game markets in China.
Nagoshi will reportedly be setting up his own team and creating new games for NetEase, although a final contract has yet to be finalised.
NetEase and rival Tencent have been trying to expand their scope outside of China in recent years, partly due to the Chinese government’s crackdown on gaming addiction in children, which has led to the companies being forced to dial back on in-game spending.
Both companies have already teamed up with non-Chinese game companies in the past. Since 2008, NetEase has enjoyed a partnership with Blizzard, which sees NetEase publishing Blizzard’s games such as Hearthstone, Overwatch, World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, and Diablo III in China.
Meanwhile, Timi Studios – the Tencent-owned developer of Call of Duty mobile – recently released Pokémon Unite as part of a partnership with The Pokémon Company, and recently announced a strategic partnership with Xbox Game Studios. Last month, Tencent also announced its intention to fully acquire British studio Sumo in a $1.27 billion deal.
If the Nagoshi move is completed and he joins NetEase, it will be a clear statement of the company’s intent to further expand outside of China.
Nagoshi joined Sega in 1989 and initially worked for its AM2 studio as a designer under Yu Suzuki. He helped design the likes of Virtua Racing, Virtua Fighter and Daytona USA, before becoming a co-producer and co-director of Suzuki’s seminal Shenmue.
In 2000 Nagoshi became head of Sega’s internal Amusement Vision studio, which created the Super Monkey Ball and F-Zero GX/AX games.
He then launched the Yakuza franchise in 2005. According to Sega, it had sold more than 10 million units prior to the release of Yakuza: Like a Dragon.
As of April 1 this year, Nagoshi was appointed Sega’s creative director as part of a wider management and organisational restructure at Sega.