The former lead developer for Sonic Team, Yuji Naka, was arrested yesterday for insider trading. Naka allegedly bought stock in the company Aiming after acquiring insider information that they would be collaborating with Square Enix on an unannounced Dragon Quest mobile title, Dragon Quest Tact. During this period, Naka was working with Square on Balan Wonderworld.
The initial report from FNN describes how Naka bought around 10,000 shares for 2.8 million yen (around $20,000) in Aiming after learning in Jan. 2020 that the company was going to be working on a Dragon Quest game. Two others were arrested on similar charges, Taisuke Sazaki, a former Square Enix employee, and his acquaintance, Fumiaki Suzuki. According to an investigation, the two made tens of millions of yen after purchasing stock in Aiming and selling after the new game was announced.
Sazaki apparently bought around 72,000 shares between Dec. 2019 and Feb. 2020, while Suzuki bought around 90,000 after Sazaki passed him the insider information. Sazaki was part of Dragon Quest Tact’s joint development team. As for Naka, it is currently unclear if he sold his stock, but prosecutors claim he did buy equity in the company before the official announcement of the title.
Naka is most well-known for his work at Sega, and in addition to being one of the creators of Sonic the Hedgehog, he also led development on games like Nights into Dream, several Phantasy Star titles, and Sonic Adventure. He recently made headlines after a nasty divorce from Square Enix over his last directed game Balan Wonderworld, which was universally panned. After being removed from the project, Naka sued Square over his firing and said the game was released in an unfinished state against his wishes. Naka has been taken into custody by the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office.