Yakuza/Like a Dragon creator claims Sega first “flat out rejected” the game

Series creator claims it took at least three attempts to get the Yakuza/Like a Dragon series off the ground.
Yakuza/Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth screenshot

Despite over 20 instalments, worldwide acclaim, and a near-cult status, it turns out we almost never had the privilege of playing the Yakuza/Like a Dragon series.

Speaking on the Weekly Ochiai show (as translated by Automaton), Yakuza/Like a Dragon series creator and former Sega chief creative officer Toshihiro Nagoshi touched on the difficulties they’d had in first pitching the game, citing studio reluctance and a perceived lack of mass-market appeal.

“Of course, it was flat out rejected,” he said. “After all, it was completely contrary to what I mentioned earlier about attracting the masses. Children wouldn’t be able to play it, and it wasn’t catered to women nor overseas audiences. In this sense, there was no way for it to be approved without resistance.”

Nagoshi went on to confirm that the game took at least three more attempts before Sega was willing to take it on. Once the game was successful, he alleges that the team wanted to keep the momentum and avoid being a passing trend – hence how quickly they released its follow-up, Yakuza 2, the very next year.

In the years since, Nagoshi moved on from Sega. Fans of the Yakuza/Like a Dragon series eagerly await news of his new studio’s debut game – perhaps in the hope it might have the same kind of unhinged but endearing energy.

In a 2023 interview with Video Games Chronicle, Nagoshi said (via translator), “Obviously, we’re not going to create something exactly the same, but I do understand there are expectations from people based more on me as a creator and my personality, so people want to see my tastes and my personality in my new games.”

yakuza/like a dragon infinite wealth review
>Image: RGG Studio

How did the most recent Yakuza/Like a Dragon game fare?

The series has since gone from strength to strength, with the most recent entry – Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth – nabbing a coveted five star rating here at GamesHub. Reviewer Leah J. Williams said:

“You will need an ocean of patience to unfold the many wrinkles of Infinite Wealth – to master its Sujimon battles, hamburger mini-games, arcade games, Dondoko Island management, and dating quests – but devote time to its intricacies, and you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful, frequently surprising game that brims with goodness and features a heartfelt, wholesome exploration of the true meaning of living.”

Read: Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth review – An abundance of riches

GamesHub also had the opportunity to speak with Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth‘s lead producer Hiroyuki Sakamoto, who stressed the importance of capturing the essence of what makes the series so enjoyable.

“The release of Like a Dragon was really a realisation for the studio, and for me in particular, that we were creating an RPG with many different things to say and offer,” he said. “That convinced us that as long as we make more (Like a Dragon) games that push the series in interesting and exciting ways, it will lead to an enjoyable experience for us and the fans.”

Steph Panecasio is the Managing Editor of GamesHub. An award-winning culture and games journalist with an interest in all things spooky, she knows a lot about death but not enough about keeping her plants alive. Find her on all platforms as @StephPanecasio for ramblings about Lord of the Rings and her current WIP novel.