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Publisher dirty tricks inspired Itagaki to start-up Valhalla

By Matt Martin

Thu 09 Feb 2012 10:34pm GMT / 5:34pm EST / 2:34pm PST

DICE 2012: DOA creator drank for three months after unfinished game was released

Respected Japanese developer Tomonobu Itagaki has revealed that a dirty trick by publishing company Tecmo caused so much doubt in his ability to make games that he drank solidly for three months and considered giving up game design for good.

Speaking at the 2012 D.I.C.E. Summit in Las Vegas, Itagaki revealed that an already over-worked development team were pushed over the edge by a publisher rushing to get Dead or Alive 2 ready for the launch of the PlayStation 2 in 2000.

"I developed this game to accomplish the IPO which was the long term strategy of my ex-company's founder," Itagaki said, speaking through an interpreter. "There was one important problem, there's was only two and a half months to develop a launch title.

I thought I would quit making games because the incomplete game was released. I stayed at home for three or four months and there was nothing for me to do so I just kept drinking.

Tomonobu Itagaki

"All of the staff, including me, fought for victory with all their energy. But unfortunately the result wasn't what we expected. One day, the sales general manager came to me and said 'can I borrow a copy of this so I can play it?' I said 'sure, go on' and I handed him the disc which was still under development. But the disc was never played by him, instead it was taken into a factory for production on that day without me knowing.

"To be sure the company made a huge profit and of course the IPO was a success too. But I thought I would quit making games because the incomplete game was released. There were some staff who were relieved, but some of the staff, including me, were so depressed. So after I stayed at home for three or four months and there was nothing for me to do so I just kept drinking. How much did I drink? From morning until night. But no matter how much I drank I never got drunk."

After being re-inspired by his family, Itagaki said he would return to development to release Dead or Alive 2: Hardcore. He remained at Tecmo, switching focus to the original Xbox, but he eventually left the company in 2008 amidst multiple legal issues.

But it was the underhand dealings of the publisher that inspired Itagaki to start his own studio, Valhalla, which is currently at work on a new project for THQ.

"So I became independent and created my own company and became a stock holder myself."

"Do whatever you want to do and follow your passion," he told the audience. "Not just for self-satisfaction and not just for earning money, make something that change audiences lives. I believe video games have such power."

From Recommendations by Taboola


Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany

1,166 1,297 1.1
I, for once, I-m looking forward to see what Valhalla Studios has to offer. I think Itagaki is a heavily talented designer and I-m sure something good will come out of his mind.

Posted:4 years ago


Sanjay Jagmohan Project Monitor (Functionality Team Lead), SEGA Europe

10 0 0.0
Interesting and inspirational read.

Posted:4 years ago


Kevin Toms Games Designer and Programmer

1 0 0.0
He was knocked down, but not broken. Great to read he found his way back.

Posted:4 years ago


Shane McCafferty iOS Developer/Consultant, Shane McCafferty

24 0 0.0
Dirty tricks indeed.

Looking forward to seeing what Itagaki is at now.

Posted:4 years ago


Steven Noble

2 0 0.0
I really hope THQ can pull through this next year because they have so many good games coming Devils Third, InSane, Itagaki's Project, Metro, Darksiders 2, Space Marine 2 (fingers crossed), Patrice Desilets's project, Homefront 2 (being developed by Crytek), just to name a few!

Oh and lets not forget the best of the, the best SOUTH PARK RPG!!!!!!!!

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Steven Noble on 10th February 2012 8:14pm

Posted:4 years ago

Sounds fishy.... this guy just grabs any beta he happened to have around and started printing DVDs? I mean.... no testing... aproval.... nothing?

And also "But no matter how much I drank I never got drunk".

That is quite simply not real.

Posted:4 years ago


Jamie Watson Studying Bachelor of Games & Interactive Entertainment, Queensland University of Technology

179 0 0.0
good read but sad to see it come to this, no wonder they saw game developers/designers burn out so quickly...

i hope the new studio comes up with some good,i like his work and look forward to his next project.

Posted:4 years ago

What happend may be an exception, but inspire me to keep on indie side of the industry, as long as I can keep the company profitable, we can keep doing whatever inspire us and make my team happy.

Posted:4 years ago

He should have tried alcohol :)))

Posted:4 years ago


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