Yuji Naka, the co-creator of Sonic the Hedgehog, has been arrested in Japan on allegations of insider trading.
Prosecutors have alleged that Naka bought shares worth ¥2.8 million ($20,000 USD) in Japanese game studio Aiming, a few weeks before Square Enix announced that they would be working on the next Dragon Quest mobile game. With shares jumping up by around 250%, Naka would have made off with around $30,000 from his investment.
Naka was not alone in making this trade, with two other Square Enix executives also arrested on Thursday. At the time, Aiming was listed in the Mothers section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange (which has since been reformed), which featured a number of rapidly growing stocks for investors seeking smaller companies where they could make high returns.
Naka was in a privileged position to make this trade, having joined Square Enix in 2018 and working on Balan Wonderworld at the time – a more amusing way to do some insider trading would have been to short Square Enix stock just before Balan Wonderworld released, but there we go.
Naka and Square Enix have since parted ways, with Naka suing the publisher last year over the release of Balan Wonderworld, claiming that they removed him as director of the game before release, leading to some of its poor public and critical reception. It’s not clear how the court case was concluded, but it is clear that Naka was seeking to restore some of his reputation. Since Balan Wonderworld’s release, he has departed Square Enix and gone solo, working on a mobile game.
Balan Wonderworld was widely panned when it released in March 2021 with a mixture of bugs and design issues undermining the 3D platformer. In our own Balan Wonderworld review, Reuben said:
“Balan Wonderworld is a passable platformer marred by a string of increasingly baffling design decisions. It has charm by the bucketload and off-the-wall concepts that land well in spite of themselves, but the experience is inconsistent at best and frustrating at worst. There is a good game in here somewhere, and it is great fun at points, but waiting for those points isn’t really worth it.”