Rumours of Yuji Naka’s immanent departure from SEGA seemed greatly exaggerated when SEGA’s Sonic Channel (the Japanese Sonic mini site) seemed to imply it was all part of an elaborate prank, devised to coheres swarms of fans into believing Naka was leaving to set up is own restaurant titled Yumeshiya. The prank was part of SEGA’s April fool, which due to time differences had occurred a day earlier than other parts of the world which led many a western fan to believe it was true. The joke did however serve another purpose: To draw people’s attention away from the growing concern that Naka was leaving SEGA to found his own development studio, and that SEGA would own a small stake in the company. Now it seems these rumours have indeed been confirmed.
On May the 8th 2006 SEGA announced the formation of PROPE, a development studio aimed at bringing game entertainment much closer to users, establishing closer ties between the users and them, and creating near future entertainment. Or at leased that’s how their official website puts it. The name is Latin, it means beside and near future, and there’s no man greater to lead the studio into the unknown than Naka himself.
However fear not as SEGA won’t be ousting its prodigal son just yet. In a move that seems none to surprising SEGA will retain connections to the studio by providing it with the 10% of its initial ten million yen in funding. June 1st marks the beginning of this new studio, but not only that, it also marks the start of a new independent developer support program which aims to derive more studios from already existing SEGA staff.