Sonic co-creator Yuji Naka among former Square Enix employees arrested over Dragon Quest-related insider trading

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(Image credit: Square Enix)
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Update: Fuji News Network (opens in new tab) is now reporting that Yuji Naka, co-creator of Sonic the Hedgehog and director of Balan Wonderworld, has been arrested by the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office in connection with the insider trading case. Like the two previously arrested suspects, Naka is accused of buying shares in Aiming Co before it was revealed that the developer was taking on a lucrative contract to make a Dragon Quest mobile game. In Naka's case, he allegedly bought around 10,000 shares, roughly worth 2.8 million yen. It has not been disclosed whether Naka or the other suspects sold their shares.

Original story: On November 17, Japanese outlet Automaton (opens in new tab) reported that two Square Enix employees had been arrested by Tokyo Police on suspicion of insider trading. The arrest is in relation to money they invested in a third-party developer, Aiming Co, ahead of the public reveal that it would work on the mobile Dragon Quest spinoff, Dragon Quest Tact (opens in new tab), which released in 2020.

Automaton identifies the employees as Fumiaki Suzuki (opens in new tab) and Taisuke Sasaki (opens in new tab) (alternately Sazaki). The two men have technical production credits and special thanks on a number of high-profile Square Enix games, including Dragon Quest 11, Final Fantasy 14, and NieR Automata.

Sasaki and Suzuki were allegedly aware of Aming Co's unannounced collaboration with Square Enix through internal sources when they purchased 47 million yen (around $335,000) worth of Aming Co stock. Given the Dragon Quest series' massive popularity, especially in Japan, that investment would presumably have a lucrative payoff, with Aiming Co's value increasing as soon as the high profile project was announced.

On November 17, Square Enix released a public statement (opens in new tab) on the matter. The company said it will "fully cooperate with the investigation to clarify the facts." Square Enix also stated that it is "taking disciplinary action against the former employees," and went on to assert that it will strengthen its internal measures to detect and prevent insider trading by employees.

$335,000 is absolutely a life changing amount of money for an individual, but it strikes me as a paltry amount in the world of high finance and billion dollar videogame studio acquisitions. I can almost imagine an Office Space-style situation with two mid-level Square Enix employees coming up with a scheme to make some extra money in the shadow of corporate profits. Whatever the case may be, this is a developing story, and thus far the first instance I know of where Dragon Quest was involved in an alleged financial crime.

Associate Editor

Ted has been thinking about PC games and bothering anyone who would listen with his thoughts on them ever since he booted up his sister's copy of Neverwinter Nights on the family computer. He is obsessed with all things CRPG and CRPG-adjacent, but has also covered esports, modding, and rare game collecting. When he's not playing or writing about games, you can find Ted lifting weights on his back porch.

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