Sonic Co-Creator Charged With Illegally Trading Over $1 Million In Final Fantasy Stock

An image of Yuji Naka
An image of Yuji Naka

Last month, the legendary co-creator of Sonic the Hedgehog was arrested for allegedly purchasing shares in a development studio before its involvement in a Dragon Quest game was announced. A month later, he was arrested a second time for reportedly buying stock in a company that was set to work on a Final Fantasy spinoff. Yesterday, Tokyo prosecutors formally charged Yuji Naka for inside trading roughly $1,080,000 in Final Fantasy stock.

According to NHK, the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office determined that Naka had been making a profit on insider trading (Thanks, VGC). For the uninitiated, insider trading is when someone with non-public knowledge of a company is able to use that information to trade stock at an advantage. Doing so is illegal in Japan. So Naka ran afoul of the law when he purchased shares in ATeam before the studio had announced that it would be developing the mobile game Final Fantasy VII: The First Soldier, a battle royale that was exclusively released for mobile devices. Though the game was announced in 2021, Naka was arrested on December 7 of this year.

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This was a month after he had been arrested the first time for buying shares in Aiming, the studio that created Dragon Quest Tact. In both of these incidents, he was arrested alongside Square Enix employee Taisuke Sasaki. Sasaki was indicted for trading roughly $782,000 in stock.

If the two made a profit off the ATeam stock, it was presumably before The First Soldier was canceled less than a year after its launch. Square Enix had clearly been hoping to capitalize on the popularity of Fortnite and other battle royales. Instead, First Soldier suffered severe performance issues and was exclusively available on mobile.

Naka had joined Square Enix in 2018 to direct Balan Wonderworld, a strange action-platformer that was near-universally panned as a flop. The game was unfocused and confusing to many reviewers, and Kotaku included it on a list of the year’s biggest gaming disappointments. The director departed Square Enix in June 2021. Maybe Naka would have been better off if he had been focused on directing a good game instead of manipulating the stock market.

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