Legendary Game Designer Calls It Quits

Famed Japanese designer Tomonobu Itagaki, creator of Dead or Alive and Ninja Gaiden, is leaving the company he helped build up

According to 1UP, Tomonobu Itagaki has announced that he will be leaving his position at Team Ninja, effective July 1, 2008. Additionally, he has filed a complaint in the Tokyo District Court against Tecmo and the company's President Yoshimi Yasuda for unpaid completion bonuses, claiming damages in total of 148 million yen ($1.4 million).

"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," read the statement by Itagaki. "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 timing of this announcement is probably not coincidental, as Ninja Gaiden II is set to launch in the U.S. tomorrow. Itagaki has expressed his dissatisfaction with certain Tecmo executive decisions in the past, such as the port of Ninja Gaiden Sigma on PS3. His recent remarks about being done with Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive, which are Tecmo's two best known and successful franchises, suggest that this move by Itagaki has been calculated for a while.