It’s rare to have individual icons in the world of video games. Making a game is a team effort that involves many talented people, so it’s unfair to give all the credit to individuals. But there are a few notable names out there who are instantly recognizable whenever they work on a title. Yuji Naka, one of the co-creators of Sonic the Hedgehog, is one of those names. His time at SEGA as a programmer and director earned him a status of fame in the video game community for his work on not only Sonic, but Phantasy Star, and ChuChu Rocket!
Naka eventually left SEGA and joined SquareEnix, where he would go on to produce Balan Wonderworld. It didn’t do particularly well critically or financially, and eventually, Naka sued SquareEnix over creative differences and what he believed was SquareEnix pushing him out of the game’s development. While the reason Balan Wonderworld failed is up to debate, it certainly damaged Naka’s reputation in the video game community.
Earlier in the week, Naka’s reputation took an even bigger hit when he, alongside two Square Enix employees, was arrested for alleged insider trading while with the company. Naka, according to reports by IGN Japan, allegedly invested stock into Square Enix before the mobile game Dragon Quest Tact was announced with knowledge of the game’s pending announcement. Via IGN:
He allegedly bought 10,000 shares in developer Aiming, at a value of around $20,000, ahead of it announcing the Dragon Quest Tact mobile game in partnership with Square Enix. The other employees arrested, Taisuke Sazaki and Fumiaki Suzuki, allegedly purchased a combined total of 162,000 shares at a value of around $337,250. Sazaki is also alleged to have informed Naki and Suzuki about the potential rise in value.
If the allegations prove to be true, then it’s unlikely we are going to be seeing him involved in the video game industry again.