It was only three weeks ago that we reported the astonishing news that Yuji Naka, the creator of Sonic The Hedgehog, had been arrested over allegations of insider training in relation to Dragon Quest. Now, it’s being reported that he’s been arrested again for similar charges, this time allegedly regarding shares bought before the 2021 announcement of mobile battle royale Final Fantasy VII: The First Soldier.
Yuji Naka, a name behind some of the most iconic Japanese game franchises of the last 30 years, could be in a whole heap of trouble. The man who took Sonic from a high school notebook doodle to one of the most famous gaming characters in existence was arrested in November, along with others, allegedly accused of buying shares in developer Aiming, shortly before it was announced in 2020 that the studio would be making Dragon Quest Tact.
Less than a month later, it’s being reported by Asahi that it’s happening all over again, but this time in regards to his allegedly purchasing shares in ATeam Entertainment, just before it was made public in 2021 that they’d be creating Square Enix’s ill-fated mobile game, Final Fantasy VII: The First Soldier. According to Asahi, he’s alleged to have paid 144.7 million yen ($1,051,000) for 120,000 shares in ATeam. It’s claimed he was arrested alongside another former Square Enix employee, Taisuke Sasaki, who was also said to have been arrested over Aiming shares last month.
Were this to be a thing someone had done, it would of course be an attempt to profit from the increased share value such an announcement would cause, but given it would be based on non-public confidential information, that counts as insider trading.
Most recently, Naka had been working on Square Enix’s dreadful Balan Wonderworld, before being let go by the studio six months before its release. He says he later sued Square Enix over this, but has never disclosed the resolution.
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In February last year, Squenix announced Final Fantasy VII: The First Soldier would be jointly developed with ATeam, before releasing it for mobile in November last year. Then, less than a year later, announced they were killing it dead. ATeam shares are now worth about half their value in 2021, and a fraction of their peak in 2013.