Yuji Naka, the co-creator of the video game “Sonic the Hedgehog,” was arrested Friday in Tokyo on suspicion of insider trading on Square Enix’s mobile game “Dragon Quest Tact.”
The Square Enix designer — who in 2018 joined the Japanese conglomerate behind the video games “Final Fantasy,” “Kingdom Hearts” and “Dragon Quest” — is accused of buying shares in developer Aiming in January 2020 based on inside information that it would be developing a mobile version of the game. “Dragon Quest”.
The Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office announced the arrest on Friday, according to Variety, saying Naka obtained sensitive information regarding the smartphone game while working for the major game maker.
Naka, 57, who left the company last year, was working on Square Enix’s ill-fated platform Balan Wonderworld in early 2020 — a time when the publisher and its partnership with Aiming on “Dragon Quest Tact” had yet to be announced, according to reports. to Polygon and Engadget, which also cited arrest reports out of Japan on Friday.
The programmer was accused of buying approximately 10,000 shares of Aiming stock for 2.8 million yen ($20,000) before announcing the partnership and knowingly using inside information to later sell the stock when it increased in value.
In a statement Thursday to Video Games Chronicle, Tokyo-based Square Enix acknowledged reports that former employees Taisuke Sazaki and Fumiaki Suzuki are under investigation on suspicion of insider trading, and said it is “cooperating fully with requests from the SEC.” Naka was not arrested when the company issued this statement.
“While the investigation is being conducted by the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office, we will continue to fully cooperate with the investigation. We deeply regret the great concern this causes to all involved. We have dealt with this incident strictly, including internal disciplinary action against the suspected employees,” the publisher said. them”.
Sazaki and Suzuki allegedly bought about 47 million Japanese yen ($336,300) of stock in Aiming before it was publicly confirmed that it would develop the “Dragon Quest Tact”.
Naka was the lead programmer on the movie “Sonic the Hedgehog” and created Sega’s iconic fast-paced mascot with artist Naoto Ohshima in the 1990s to compete with Nintendo’s Mario Bros. Ultimate. franchise. Naka left Sega in 2006 and worked for a long time as an independent game developer.
He reunited with Ohshima at Balan Wonderworld in 2018. But when this game was released in 2021, it was considered a flop. Naka reportedly resigned and subsequently sued Square Enix, claiming that he had already been removed from Balan Wonderworld six months prior to its release. And in a hot Twitter thread this past April, he said the launch of Square Enix and poor action game developer Azest was a “disgrace.”