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‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ Creator Yuji Naka Arrested for Alleged Insider Trading

While details are few, we know the game developer was taken into custody last Friday along with two other former Square Enix employees, all charged with improper purchasing of shares in Aiming prior to the company’s announcement of a new game in the ‘Dragon Quest’ franchise.    

It seems Yuji Naka didn’t run fast enough to evade the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office, who have arrested the Sonic the Hedgehog creator for insider training, according to Variety. Back in January 2020, when Naka was still employed with Square Enix, he allegedly obtained sensitive information about the Dragon Quest game series under development. With this info, he supposedly purchased 10,000 shares in the game’s developer, Aiming, prior to the game’s public reveal, thus violating the Financial Instruments and Exchange Law.   

Naka was arrested alongside two other former Square Enix employees who purchased Aiming shares pre-announcement; it is unknown whether any of the men ever sold their stock.

The wayward trader dreamt up Sonic in the late 1980s as a competitor to the Super Mario games; the blue hedgehog game was released in 1991. Naka left Sega for the American Sega Technical Institute shortly thereafter, citing improper credit for his contribution to the company, before returning to the fold in 1994.

By 2006, Naka had moved on from Sega for good and launched his own gaming company, Prope, which developed games for the Nintendo Wii. A decade later, he joined Square Enix, then exited earlier in 2022 before his eventual arrest. According to Fortune, Naka was involved in the development of a musical game, Balan Wonderworld, at Square Enix, which “was a flop.” He eventually sued Square Enix, claiming he’d been removed from its development six months before the game’s completion.

No word yet on the status of the insider trading case, but let’s hope he doesn’t do a barrelroll straight into prison.

Laurén Alexa's picture

Cybersecurity specialist by day, investigative journalist by night.