Collecting rings the wrong way
Sonic the Hedgehog co-creator Yuji Naka has been found guilty of insider trading following a trial in Japan on July 7, 2023. As IGN Japan reports, it was found that through insider trading associated with the development of a Square Enix game, he had violated Japan’s Financial Instruments and Exchange Act.
Naka was handed a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence, suspended for four years. Judge Madoka Hiruta also served him with two million yen and 107 million yen fines, amounting to approximately $14, 000 and $1.1 million respectively.
Yuji Naka’s legal woes
Naka is known for being one of the co-creators of the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise, serving as the president of Sonic Team until 2006. He has worked on several titles outside of the blue hedgehog’s franchise, including Balan Wonderworld, Phantasy Star, and Samba de Amigo.
Naka was arrested in November 2022, and it was alleged that he had purchased 10,000 shares (amounting to approximately $20, 000) in Aiming ahead of the studio announcing the Dragon Quest Tact mobile game for Square Enix. He was re-arrested on similar charges, this time for buying shares in Ateam, the studio that went on to release Final Fantasy 7: The First Soldier mobile game.
He had previously pled guilty to the charges, admitting that there was no doubt the accusations are true. Judge Hiruta stated that Naka “was known as one of the world’s most famous game developers, and had the authority to access joint development information”. and he also commented that Naka had damaged the trust of investors and the soundness of the stock market.
Naka isn’t the only Square Enix employee to find themselves in hot water. Taisuke Sazaki and Fumiaki Suzuki were also arrested for insider trading after purchasing 162,000 shares at a value of approximately $337, 250. It is reported that it was Sazaki who informed Naka and Suzuki about the potential rise in value.
Though Naka may be facing turbulent times, things are looking good for both Sonic the Hedgehog and Final Fantasy. The newly released Final Fantasy 16 has already sold over 3 million copies, while Sonic the Hedgehog fans can look forward to Sonic Superstars, which is slated to launch in late 2023.