Legendary designer Shinji Mikami to leave Tango Gameworks and Xbox

Shinji Mikami on stage.
(Image credit: Christian Peterson via Getty)

Tango Gameworks' co-founder and legendary game director Shinji Mikami is to leave the studio within the coming months, Bethesda has confirmed. Mikami set up Tango after leaving Platinum Games, which he had also co-founded with several Capcom alumni. His career began at Capcom where he was quickly recognised as a singular talent, and he cut his directorial teeth on a licensed 16-bit game (Goof Troop, of all things) before going on to design and direct the game that would make his name: Resident Evil.

A company email began circulating earlier today and has now been confirmed as authentic by Bethesda, which has released its own statement. "I am writing today to let you know that studio head Shinji Mikami has decided to leave Tango Gameworks in the coming months," said Bethesda SVP Todd Vaughn. "Mikami-san has been a creative leader and supportive mentor to young developers at Tango for 12 years through his work on the Evil Within franchise, Ghostwire: Tokyo, and of course, Hi-Fi Rush."

This has been a feature of Mikami's career. After Resident Evil, he worked on Dino Crisis and guided the young Hideki Kamiya in directing the game's sequel, before returning to the series with the outstanding Resident Evil 4.

Mikami became a key member of Capcom's Clover Team, an internal studio of all the talents, and among other projects, his final Capcom game would be the peerless God Hand. When he and others left to form Platinum, Mikami was explicit that he would direct one title and pass on as much as he could before leaving, which is exactly what he did: and Vanquish was brilliant.

Mikami founded Tango Gameworks in 2010 and directed The Evil Within (2014), before once more stepping back and guiding younger directors on projects like TEW2, Ghostwire: Tokyo, and the recent Hi-Fi Rush, which Bethesda's Vaughn called "one of the most successful launches for Bethesda and Xbox in recent years".

Tango was acquired by Zenimax Media shortly after its founding and thus became an Xbox studio when Microsoft would later acquire Zenimax. What's next for Mikami is unclear. The designer is 57 years old and has an outstanding list of creations and success to his name, so no one could begrudge him a peaceful retirement. But given the quality of games this man has produced over his career, I am one of those who, selfishly, hopes he's going off to make one last dream project. Could this finally be the moment for God Hand 2?

Bethesda's statement ends by saying "We wish Mikami-san well in the future and are excited by what lies ahead for the talented developers at Tango."

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."