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Sonic the Hedgehog creator and former Square Enix employee Yuji Naka (57) was arrested by prosecutors in Japan on Friday, accused of insider trading in shares of the video game production company Aiming.

Yuji Naka, taken from his Twitter profile.

According to Japanese news agency FNN, Naka is accused of purchasing 10,000 shares of the company for around 2.8 million yen (around $30,000 at the time) in January 2020 after receiving insider information about Dragon Quest Tact, a mobile phone game that was being jointly developed by Aiming and Square Enix, where Naka was employed at the time.

Naka was let go by Square in June 2021, shortly after the launch of his poorly-received game Balan Wonderworld. In early 2022, Naka tweeted that he was actually removed as director of the game six months before it was launched. He has since filed a lawsuit against Square in an attempt to resolve the dispute.

The day before Naka’s arrest, prosecutors arrested fellow Square employee Taisuke Sazaki and Fumiaki Suzuki, an acquaintance of Sazaki’s, for their alleged involvement in the plan.

Charges indicate that the trio purchased their shares in Aiming with the hopes that the price would rise after the Dragon Quest Tact’s announcement. It’s not yet clear if any of them have sold their shares since.

Dragon Quest is one of the most popular game franchises in Japan. Since it was launched in 1986, over 82 million Dragon Quest games have been sold from the franchise’s eleven main entries and dozens of spin-offs. Dragon Quest Tact proved a hit for Square Enix and was downloaded more than 10 million times in Japan alone.

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