Itagaki leaves Tecmo - and then starts legal proceedings

Itagaki leaves Tecmo - and then starts legal proceedings

By Ed Fear

June 3rd 2008 at 10:26AM

Ninja Gaiden creator sues former employer for unpaid bonuses

Tomonobu Itagaki, the creator of the Dead or Alive and Ninja Gaiden series, has left Tecmo and started legal proceedings against them.

According to a release from the famously-outspoken designer, posted on 1-Up, he has filed a complaint at the Tokyo District Court against Tecmo claiming damages of 148 million yen (approximately £723,500) for unpaid completion bonuses and 'unreasonable and disingenuous statements' made by Tecmo president Yoshimi Yasuda.

Allegedly, Tecmo promised Itagaki a bonus to be paid upon Dead or Alive 4's completion, but refused payment when the time came. Itagaki claims that Yasuda became defiant, telling Itagaki that 'if you are dissatisfied with the decision not to pay the bonuses, either quit the company or sue it.' He also allegedly made demeaning remarks about Itagaki to his workmates, causing him 'significant emotional distress and worsening my personal relationships and work environment.'

"The conduct of Tecmo Co., Ltd. and its president Yoshimi Yasuda towards me has been unbefitting of a publicly-listed company," he said.

"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."

Itagaki had previously mentioned in interviews leading up to the release of Ninja Gaiden 2, which will be launched in the UK this Friday, that he would be turning his back on the Dead or Alive and Ninja Gaiden franchises - given the timing of his original court submission it's fair to say that at the time he knew that working on those titles in the future would be an impossibility.

He continues: "I regret the disappointment this will cause my fans. However, I can no longer continue to work with 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."

In response, Microsoft has issued a statement thanking Itagaki for his work on the Xbox and Xbox 360, saying: "Tomonobu Itagaki has decided to leave Tecmo and Team Ninja to pursue other opportunities. We thank Tomonobu Itagaki for the many years he has supported Xbox as he has contributed immensely to the success of the videogame industry as a whole."

For more on Itagaki's future plans and his opinion of Ninja Gaiden 2, check out our sister magazine MCV's recent interview.

The full text of Itagaki's statement is below:

"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."