Tomonobu Itagaki leaves Tecmo, files complaint with court
Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive creator alleges unpaid compensation and demeaning remarks.
Tecmo "Creative Officer" Tomonobu Itagaki, known as the master ninja at internal development studio Team Ninja and the person in the director's seat for such titles as Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive issued a statement to both the press and fans today indicating that he will be leaving Tecmo and suing both the company and its president, Yoshimi Yasuda.
In the statement, Itagaki accuses Tecmo of unpaid compensation for work on Dead or Alive 4 and Yasuda of "demeaning remarks" made about him to subordinates and colleagues. Itagaki states that effective July 1, he will no longer be a Tecmo employee.
The statement concludes with a message to gamers in which the outspoken producer makes it clear that Ninja Gaiden 2 (due out later this week) will be his last Ninja Gaiden game and that he will no longer be able to make a Dead or Alive 5. He also refers here to Yasuda as "a man who chooses not to honor promises even when he is able to do so."
Impress Watch reports that Tecmo would confirm the existence of the statement from Itagaki, but was looking into the lawsuit.
The following is a translation of Itagaki's statement, as provided to overseas press outlets by an Itagaki associate.
Tomonobu Itagaki Statement -- English translation
"I, Tomonobu Itagaki, hereby announce that on the 14th of May 2008 I filed a complaint in the Tokyo District Court against Tecmo Co., Ltd. for unpaid completion bonuses, and against the President of Tecmo, Yoshimi Yasuda, for such unlawful acts as unreasonable and disingenuous statements made towards me, claiming damages in total of 148 million yen. I also announce that this complaint was delivered to the defendants on May 22nd of the same year. In addition, I hereby announce that I have today submitted a letter of resignation to Tecmo Co., Ltd. stating that I will resign as of the 1st of July, 2008.
"Before the start of development on Dead or Alive 4, Tecmo Co., Ltd. had agreed to pay a completion bonus to me for this Xbox 360 title, which I produced. However, when the time came for the actual payment, Tecmo Co., Ltd. went against its previous agreement and refused payment. President Yoshimi Yasuda chose not only to violate this agreement, but also turned defiant, telling me 'if you are dissatisfied with the decision not to pay the bonuses, either quit the company or sue it.' In addition, he made demeaning remarks about me to my subordinates and colleagues, causing me significant emotional distress and worsening my personal relationships and work environment. Thus, I have no choice but to resign from Tecmo Co., Ltd.
"The conduct of Tecmo Co., Ltd. and its president Yoshimi Yasuda towards me has been unbefitting of a publicly-listed company. I have filed this lawsuit with a strong intent to question the social responsibility of Tecmo Co., Ltd. and its President Yoshimi Yasuda, as well as condemning them for their unjust acts. Today, in addition to announcing the reasons for this lawsuit, I make clear my reasons for resigning.
"To All Game Fans
"I truly feel sorry to all the fans of the games I have made. Ninja Gaiden 2, which will launch on the 3rd of June will be the last Ninja Gaiden I will create. I will also never be able to make Dead or Alive 5. I regret the circumstances that have forced me to leave Tecmo, where I had worked for so many years, and I regret the disappointment this will cause my fans. However, I can no longer continue to work with President Yoshimi Yasuda, a man who chooses not to honor promises even when he is able to do so. I truly hope that nothing like this happens again in the future."