Yuji Naka | Sonic the Hedgehog creator facing two and a half years in jail

Yuji Naka

On trial for insider trading, Sonic the Hedgehog veteran Yuji Naka faces a prison sentence and fines of over $1 million.


Update, 7 July 2023: Following the 1 June publication of this story, it became clear that the reports of Yuji Naka’s conviction were the result of a mistranslation. On 1 June, prosecutors had recommended that Mr Naka face a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence and fines of ¥170 million. The sentencing wasn’t handed down until 7 July 2023, when Naka received a suspended sentence and a fine. You can read the full story here.

Our earlier story follows. We have corrected the headline and strap, but left the copy below as it was originally written.

1 June 2023: As reported by Denfaminicogamer and TV Asahi, former Sega programmer and designer Yuji Naka has been sentenced to two years and six months in jail for his role in an insider trading deal.

Naka, who worked at Square Enix between 2018 and 2021, bought shares in the developer Ateam Inc. after learning that the studio was making Final Fantasy VII: The First Soldier for mobile, a game that had yet to be publicly announced. The shares were worth around ¥144.7 million yen (roughly $1 million), and the prosecution said that Naka abused his insider information to gain an unfair advantage.

Naka was fined more than ¥170 million in addition to receiving a jail sentence. He had previously pleaded guilty to the charges in March, sayingThere is no doubt that I knew the facts about the game before it was made public and bought the stock” (via Google Translate).

Yuji Naka joined Sega in 1984, and is most famous for his role as the lead programmer on 1991’s Sonic the Hedgehog. He later went on to lead the development of games such as Nights Into Dreams, Sonic Adventure and Phantasy Star Online, but left Sega in 2006. He then formed the developer Prope, and joined Square Enix in 2018 to work on the platformer Balan Wonderworld, which received a critical mauling on its release in 2021 (Alan Wen gave it 60% in our review – “It won’t be destined for classic or even cult status, but you’ll still find unbridled charm in this flawed, restrictive platformer,” he wrote).

At the trial on 1st June, Naka apologised for the insider trading deal, saying: “I am sorry for damaging the fairness, soundness and reliability of the market. I am sorry” (via Google Translate).

Read more: Yuzo Koshiro’s Sonic the Hedgehog

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