A matter of hours before the to-be-a-smash-hit Ninja Gaiden 2 is slated to come out, Tomonobu Itagaki, the man behind the Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive series for the Xbox and Xbox 360 has announced that he is quitting Tecmo and Team Ninja, citing Tecmo stiffing him on some bonuses totalling approximately $1.4 million USD, which he is now suing the company for.
In a merged press release and apology-filled open letter to fans of DOA and Ninja Gaiden, Itagaki claims that Tecmo had agreed to pay him a completion bonus for the not-quite-a-launch-title Dead or Alive 4, but has refused to do so at this point. He goes on to say that when he confronted Tecmo President Yoshimi Yasuda about it, Yasuda dared him to quit and sue. A challenge Itagaki has taken up.
There's no word yet on what Itagaki's plans are after leaving Tecmo, which is slated to happen on July 3rd, but he stated flatly that the Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive series may or may not continue in his absence, and apologized to fans for this. However, he did not even hint that he was considering retirement, which means he is likely to get picked up by another publisher (this writer guesses he will end up at Konami or Microsoft Game Studios) if he doesn't stamp things out with Tecmo.