An interview with Team Ninja creative director Tom Lee suggests that the developer could follow up Nioh with the development of a new Ninja Gaiden game.
While the Dark Souls series is now often the first game fans think of when they are asked to imagine some of the industry's most difficult challenges, before anyone ever praised the sun there was another group of titles that gamers feared - the Ninja Gaiden series. Developer Team Ninja has been behind some of the most brutal action-adventure games ever, and the team's reluctance to ever give gamers a break has turned actually beating Ninja Gaiden into a badge of honor for those who have done so.
It has been some time since Team Ninja last released a Ninja Gaiden game - the much-maligned Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z - and the development team has been grooming a new IP for release instead. It may have taken over a decade, but Team Ninja is finally ready to unleash Nioh, a samurai hack-and-slash action RPG that plays like a combination of Dark Souls and Dynasty Warriors, upon the world. Once Team Ninja is finished with that project, however, creative director Tom Lee revealed in an interview that the next game the studio makes could feature a familiar shrouded face:
"Maybe I can say that Nioh is a gateway into the next chapter for Ninja Gaiden...there will be a time, and when the time is right, we will bring it back."
Of course, that isn't a confirmation that a Ninja Gaiden game will be the next project for Team Ninja - merely that it is an option that the development team is readily aware of. Lee clarified in the interview, which was conducted by US Gamer, that Ninja Gaiden is "a very important, if not the most important, franchise for us" before stating that he felt the franchise needed to be "in the shadows for a while" before the next entry gets developed.
Team Ninja, and publisher Tecmo Koei, will likely have their opinion on the need for a new Ninja Gaiden heavily swayed by the sales performance and critical reception for Nioh. Now that Nioh has finally gone gold after nearly thirteen years in development, it will be crucial for Team Ninja and Tecmo Koei to see returns on the investment of time and energy the game has taken. If Nioh is a success, then DLC and the potential for sequels will likely be explored. If it is a failure, however, both developer and publisher might feel the need to fall back on a tried-and-true franchise to rebound.
It's not the confirmation that fans of the franchise would have wanted, but at the very least, Tom Lee has proven that the next Ninja Gaiden is a matter of when, not if. It might still take some time, but eventually, gamers will be able to get brutally eviscerated by ninja assassins ad nauseam once more.