Team Ninja

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Team Ninja
Native name
IndustryVideo games
FoundedJanuary 1, 1995; 26 years ago (1995-01-01)
FounderTomonobu Itagaki
Key people
Yosuke Hayashi (president)
ProductsDead or Alive series
Ninja Gaiden series
Nioh series
ParentTecmo (1995–2009)
Koei Tecmo (2009–present)

Team Ninja (Japanese: チームニンジャ) (stylised as Team NINJA) is a Japanese video game developer and a division of Koei Tecmo, founded in 1995 as a part of Tecmo. It was formerly led by Tomonobu Itagaki, later by Yosuke Hayashi, and is best known for the Ninja Gaiden action-adventure game series and the Dead or Alive fighting game series.


Team Ninja was formed by Tomonobu Itagaki from a group of game designers working at Tecmo specifically for the purpose of creating the home versions of the fighting game Dead or Alive and its sequel, Dead or Alive 2.[1] In 2008, the action-adventure game Ninja Gaiden II for the Xbox 360 was published by Microsoft Game Studios, making it the first game created by Team Ninja to not be published by Tecmo; Tecmo Koei later released an enhanced version of Ninja Gaiden II on the PlayStation 3 as Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2.

On June 3, 2008, Itagaki announced that he would be leaving Tecmo and Team Ninja on July 1, 2008, citing difficulties with the company. In the same statement announcing his resignation, he also announced that he was filing a lawsuit against Tecmo over unpaid bonuses for his work on Dead or Alive 4 for the Xbox 360. It was later reported that he was fired from Tecmo on June 18, 2008 in retaliation for his lawsuit.[2] Many of his colleagues at Team Ninja quit as well to join him at his new game development team, Valhalla Game Studios. Some ex-Team Ninja members also helped with Ubisoft's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash-Up.[3]

Team Ninja also worked on multiple titles for Nintendo. In 2010, Team Ninja co-developed a new Metroid action-adventure game for Nintendo's Wii console, titled Metroid: Other M (a playable Stage from Other M later appeared in Dead or Alive: Dimensions). While being well known for their development of the Dead or Alive series of games, SEGA AM2 has since collaborated Team Ninja with the development of the franchise since 2012, starting with Dead or Alive 5 including the updated versions of the games, such as Dead or Alive 5: Last Round as well as Dead or Alive 6, the latter of which is utilizing a revised graphics engine made by SEGA AM2 specifically for the latest installment in the series. They also collaborated with Omega Force for Hyrule Warriors, an action game set in The Legend of Zelda universe, in 2014.

In 2013, following a reconstructing of Koei Tecmo, Team Ninja was split into two distinct development teams. They are dubbed Ichigaya Development Group 1 (led by Ninja Gaiden Sigma director Yosuke Hayashi) and Ichigaya Development Group 2 (led by Fatal Frame producer Keisuke Kikuchi).[4]

In 2016, Team Ninja garnered public attention after their decision to not release Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 in North America or Europe, resulting in a controversy within the video game industry about the sexualised portrayal of female characters within their games.[5][6][7] Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Shuhei Yoshida said in a statement; "It's due to cultural differences. The West has its own thinking about how to depict women in games media which is different from Japan."[8]

In 2017, Team Ninja released their new action-adventure game Nioh, which has received multiple revisions and has been in development since 2004, to great critical response.[9][10] They released Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order for the Nintendo Switch in 2019 as well as Dead or Alive 6. Team Ninja released the prequel to Nioh, Nioh 2, in March 2020.


Title Release year Genre Platform(s) Notes
Dead or Alive 1996 Fighting game Arcade, Sega Saturn, PlayStation
Dead or Alive 2 1999 Fighting game Arcade, Dreamcast, PlayStation 2
Dead or Alive 3 2001 Fighting game Xbox
Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball 2003 Sports, Party Xbox
Ninja Gaiden 2004 Action-adventure, hack and slash Xbox, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita
Dead or Alive Ultimate 2004 Fighting game Xbox Remake of Dead or Alive and Dead or Alive 2.
Dead or Alive 4 2005 Fighting game Xbox 360
Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 2006 Sports, party Xbox 360
Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword 2008 Action-adventure, hack and slash Nintendo DS
Ninja Gaiden II 2008 Action-adventure, hack and slash Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita Published by Microsoft Game Studios on Xbox 360.
Metroid: Other M 2010 Action-adventure, metroidvania Nintendo Wii Co-developed with Nintendo SPD, published by Nintendo.
Dead or Alive: Dimensions 2011 Fighting game Nintendo 3DS Published by Nintendo in PAL regions.
Ninja Gaiden 3 2012 Action-adventure, hack and slash PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U Published by Nintendo on Wii U.
Dead or Alive 5 2012 Fighting game PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Dead or Alive 5 Plus 2013 Fighting game PlayStation Vita Handheld version of Dead or Alive 5
Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate 2013 Fighting game PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 Enhanced version of Dead or Alive 5, featuring additional characters and stages.
Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z 2014 Action-adventure, hack and slash PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows Co-developed with Spark Unlimited and Comcept.
Hyrule Warriors 2014 Action, hack and slash Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Switch Co-developed with Omega Force
Dead or Alive 5 Last Round 2015 Fighting game Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One Enhanced version of Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate, featuring additional characters and stages.
Dissidia Final Fantasy NT 2015 Fighting game Arcade, PlayStation 4 Published by Square Enix.
Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 2016 Sports, party PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita Only released in Asia.
Nioh 2017 Action role-playing PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 5 Originally based on a script by Akira Kurosawa; PlayStation versions published by Sony Interactive Entertainment outside of Japan.
Dead or Alive Xtreme Venus Vacation 2017 Sports, party Microsoft Windows, macOS Steam version only released in specific Asia regions. DMM GAMES version only released in Japan.
Dissidia Final Fantasy: Opera Omnia 2017 Role-playing Android, iOS Published by Square Enix.
Fire Emblem Warriors 2017 Action, hack and slash Nintendo Switch, New Nintendo 3DS Co-developed with Omega Force.
Dead or Alive 6 2019 Fighting game PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 Scarlet 2019 Sports, party PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch Only released in Asia.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order 2019 Action Nintendo Switch Published by Nintendo.
Nioh 2 2020 Action role-playing PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 5 PlayStation versions published by Sony Interactive Entertainment outside of Japan

Upcoming games[edit]

Cancelled games[edit]

  • Dead or Alive: Code Chronos - A prequel to the Dead or Alive series, which was going to focus on the backstory of Kasumi and Ayane, and reportedly was not going to be a fighting game. It was cancelled in November 2010.
  • Ninja Gaiden 3DS - A Nintendo 3DS project announced by Team Ninja in 2011.[11] It was quietly cancelled at a later date.[12]


  1. ^ Icons: Dead or Alive.
  2. ^ Ashcroft, Brian (2008-06-23). "Itagaki Didn't Leave Tecmo, He Was Fired". Kotaku. Retrieved 2009-06-03.
  3. ^ "Hands On: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash-Up" (News). The Escapist.
  4. ^ "Team Ninja splits into two groups following Tecmo Koei|restructuring" (News). Polygon.
  5. ^ Rob, Crossley (November 25, 2015). "Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 Won't Ship Worldwide Due to Sexism Backlash Fears". GameSpot. Retrieved November 25, 2015.
  6. ^ davidjenkins2012 (25 November 2015). "Dead Or Alive Xtreme 3 cancelled in West because of sexism - Metro News". Metro.
  7. ^ "Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 Won't Ship Worldwide Due to Sexism Backlash Fears [UPDATE]". GameSpot.
  8. ^ "Dead Or Alive Xtreme 3 Not Coming West Due to Cultural Differences, Says Sony Boss - Niche Gamer". Niche Gamer.
  9. ^ Corriea, Alexa Ray (16 September 2016). "How Nioh Evolved from a JRPG to an Action Game". GameSpot. Archived from the original on 8 November 2016. Retrieved 16 February 2017.
  10. ^ Matulef, Jeffrey (30 September 2016). "Nioh director Fumihiko Yasuda on difficulty, player feedback and what's changing". Eurogamer. Archived from the original on 7 October 2016. Retrieved 16 February 2017.
  11. ^ Spencer (11 July 2011). "What's Next For Team Ninja? The Short Answer Is Ni-Oh". Siliconera. Retrieved 23 February 2017.
  12. ^ "Ninja Gaiden 3DS". IGN. Retrieved 23 February 2017.

External links[edit]