Yuji Naka, who is best known as the co-creator of Sonic the Hedgehog and the former head of the development firm Sonic Team, was held in Tokyo on suspicion of participating in insider trading.
Yuji Naka, Sonic creator, arrested for insider trading
The information was first spread via the Japanese news website FNN. It was then confirmed by an article that was printed in the version of the newspaper that was written in English and published in the Asahi Shimbun newspaper.
It is believed that Yuji Naka acquired shares in the developer Aiming at the beginning of 2020, based on inside knowledge that the company will be producing a mobile version of Dragon Quest called Dragon Quest Tact.
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At the time, Yuji Naka was employed by Square Enix and working on a platformer called Balan Wonderworld, which was ultimately a failure.
The special investigations unit of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office, which made the arrest, stated that Yuji Naka had purchased 10,000 shares in Aiming for approximately 2.8 million yen ($20,000) after learning about Dragon Quest Tact in late January 2020, prior to the announcement of the game the following month.
The individual was taken into custody by a team of investigators from the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office’s Special Investigations Unit.
However, based on the reporting that has been done, it is unclear as to whether or not he actually did sell the shares in order to make a profit from a rise in the share price after the announcement and release of the game.
On Friday, Yuji Naka was brought into a jail in connection with the identical charges that led to the detention of two other former Square Enix employees.
According to the findings of the investigation, Taisuke Sazaki and Fumiaki Suzuki are suspected of purchasing 47 million yen worth of Aiming stock between the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020.
According to the sources, Sazaki was a member of the development team for Dragon Quest Tact and contributed to the production of the game via a cooperative effort. Sazaki gets given recognition in the form of a “Special Thanks” shoutout after the credits for “Balan Wonderworld” are rolled.
Polygon has spoken with Square Enix in an attempt to get a comment on this matter. As a reaction to the arrests of Sazaki and Suzuki, the company issued the following statement on Thursday to VGC, which was delivered in response to the news of the arrests:
Today, some media outlets reported that the former employees of Square Enix were under investigation for suspected insider trading. We have been fully cooperating with requests from the Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission. As the investigation by the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office is underway, we will continue to fully cooperate with the investigation. We deeply regret the great concern this has caused to all concerned. We have dealt with this incident strictly, including internal disciplinary actions taken against the suspected employees.
The Sega character Sonic the Hedgehog was created via a collaborative effort between Naka and the artist Naoto Ohshima. Naka’s code, which he penned as the primary programmer for the original Sonic the Hedgehog game to be launched in 1991 as well as its sequels, is responsible for the hallmark fluidity and rapid movement of Sonic the Hedgehog’s visuals.
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Following his departure from Sega in 2006, Naka spent some time working as a game developer in a freelance capacity until joining Square Enix in 2018. Since then, he has been collaborating with Ohshima on the creation of the Balan Wonderworld game.
The development of the game, on the other hand, did not go very well. In March of 2021, the movie Balan Wonderworld was released, and it was met with unfavorable reviews upon its debut.
In April 2022, Yuji Naka revealed that he had been terminated from the project around six months before the launch of the video game.
In addition to this, he said that he has taken legal action against Square Enix as a result of his dismissal, and he extended an apology to the players of the game for the “unfinished” aspect of the game itself.