Yakuza creator Toshihiro Nagoshi has announced his departure from Sega.
A report from Bloomberg (paywall) published in August said Nagoshi was leaving to join Chinese company NetEase.
In a farewell post on the website of Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio, developer of the Yakuza games, Nagoshi thanked fans for their support over the years.
"As of today, a new Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio is born where the series will live on," Nagoshi said.
"Though I don't know for sure what they will create, I believe the new generation will further enhance the foundation we built over the years and deliver great games to the world. To achieve that, they too need to continue to learn, challenge themselves, and grow. I ask that you continue your support of the studio's endeavors.
"Once again, I would like to express my deepest appreciation to all of you. Thank you so much for your support. Stay tuned for the many new beginnings!"
Nagoshi is a 30-year Sega veteran who has worked on the likes of Daytona and Virtua Fighter, but it is the Yakuza series and its various spin-offs that have seen him achieve legendary status among fans.
Yakuza director and producer Daisuke Sato is also leaving Sega, presumably to follow Nagoshi to NetEase.
Sega confirmed the pair's departure while in the same breath announcing a reorganisation of Ryu Ga Gotoku's leadership. Studio director and executive producer Masayoshi Yokoyama said:
"Ryu Ga Gotoku's predecessors have passed down their beliefs and know-how to each and every staff member. You can witness it in the recently released Lost Judgment and will see it in the upcoming sequel to Yakuza: Like a Dragon which will continue Ichiban Kasuga's story.
"This game is currently being developed by producer Sakamoto and directors Horii, Ito and Mitake. I myself along with Takeuchi and Furuta are working on the story.
"Whether it's six months or one year from now, I hope to show you a new Ryu Ga Gotoku title by a new Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio that is different but still the same, and something that will spark a feeling of 'this is what we are waiting for within you. I'd like to continue on my life as a video game creator with earnestness.
"Thank you very much for your continued support."