The ninja has left the building.

Role-playing survival game is willing to take risks

I’m not going to create entries based on every bit of news in the gaming industry but I’m going to have to make an exception with this one. As of this week the creator behind the Ninja Gaiden, and Dead or Alive series Tomonobu Itagaki has not only quit Tecmo but is suing them for not paying bonuses promised to him and emotional distress caused by Tecmo’s president.This comes after two recent entries I did, one on the action genre and one on the importance of game designers and royalties.

In my entry regarding the action genre I placed Ninja Gaiden Black on top of my pedestal as the best designed action title I’ve played. Now I do believe that there is no I in team when it comes to creating a game, but you cannot deny the involvement Itagaki had on the franchise and the structure of the game. Like I mentioned in my entry on style, we all have our own way of doing things and this gets translated into the games we’re working on. I’m now left to wonder how this will effect future games in the Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive franchises, even after Tecmo released a statement saying Team Ninja (Itagaki’s team) will continue making games. Which is even more distressing when we look at his status in the industry.

As I mentioned in another entry, game designers are our industry’s celebrities and the high profile ones are really the face of our industry. Itagaki has always held a rock star like persona, he’s known for being very candid about his principles,design decisions, and competition. We also know that he is not exactly a well mannered person, news reports of him gambling, drinking, and even a sexual harassment suit have been released over the years about him. I’m not going to defend his actions or manner as my only experience with him are the games I’ve played that he designed. Asking if designers should adhere to some moral standing for the industry is something way too big for one little entry. With that said however he has since the release of Ninja Gaiden become the face of Tecmo, and without him will no doubt strike a huge blow against Tecmo in the coming months.

I’ve read comments about his departure on both ends of the spectrum, some are sad that he’s leaving and hope he finds work and gets compensation from Tecmo. Others are glad he’s gone and are slamming him for his various vices. I don’t know where I stand on this, as a gamer(and hopefully future game designer) I am sad (and quite frankly shocked) at this turn of events, but I don’t know him enough personality to defend him. Other reports have said that he has been out spoken about his company and has really developed a massive ego due to the success of his games which translated into him talking over the head of Tecmo. Which is abit odd as I’ve never read anything about that with designers over here (or those stories were never leaked). I am wondering if his ego will stand in the way of getting work and how much will a new company tolerate from him? He is one of the few designers thanks to the Ninja Gaiden series to back up his huge ego, but he has built up a pretty bad reputation for PR. Still, for fans of Tecmo or the Ninja Gaiden franchase in general this is a huge deal and something to keep your eyes on for awhile.


06/07 update: At the end of this week it was reported that Tecmo is already feeling the blow from Itagaki’s departure, as their stock dropped $10 in price this week. Which leads me to wonder what else can happen to Tecmo in the coming weeks.