Japanese authorities arrested Yuji Naka, the co-creator of the iconic Sega mascot Sonic the Hedgehog, for suspected insider trading. According to Fortune, Naka allegedly purchased game developer Aiming Inc shares just before their new video game announcement.
The game, Dragon Quest Tact, is a mobile entry in the legendary franchise by Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama. Authorities also arrested two other employees at Square Enix, the famous video game studio where Naka worked on similar charges.
Sonic the Hedgehog co-creator Yuji Naka allegedly knew about the Dragon Quest deal before it went public.
According to a Japanese report, Naka allegedly knew about the deal before Aiming’s public announcement. He spent ¥2.8 million, or about $20,000, on 10,000 shares of Aiming Inc. Along with Naka, Japanese authorities also arrested a former Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts developer at Square Enix, Taisuke Sazaki. Before the game announcement, he allegedly purchased ¥26.4 million, or about $188,000 worth of Aiming Inc shares.
Kotaku reports the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office is investigating the matter. Although, there are no details about the third Square Enix employee arrested along with Naka and Sazaki. Additionally, there is no word yet on if the trio still owns their illegally-purchased shares of Aiming Inc.
Naka left Square Enix in 2021 and sued the company.
Naka left Square Enix in 2021 amid some controversy. He worked on a new IP called Balan Wonderworld, which critics and fans panned upon release. Naka eventually sued Square Enix for removing him from the Balan Wonderworld project six months before completion.
Polygon reports several higher-ups on the project fired Naka as the game’s director, citing workplace conflict. However, Naka claims unjust removal from the game for voicing concerns over promotional music and quality. The long-tenured developer aired his grievances via Twitter once the court case ended.
According to IGN’s translation of the Twitter thread, Naka had two significant issues with how Square Enix handled Balan Wonderworld. Firstly, YouTuber-composed piano arrangements of in-game tracks used in promotional materials instead of the tracks themselves. Additionally, Naka complained about the game’s buggy state before release, tarnishing his relationship with the game’s development studio, Arzest.