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Thursday, November 24, 2022

Disgraced Game Developer Yuji Naka Arrested for Suspicions of Insider Trading

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Two other guys, too, but no one cares about them.

One of the best videogame industry stories of the whole year broke while I was out of the office last week! Imagine my shock when I heard that Yuji Naka, director of BALAN WONDERWORLD and leader of a cult of disturbed losers, got arrested for insider trading. ...Actually, my first thought was that it wasn't Yuji Naka but Yuji Horii, creator of the Dragon Quest series. That's because the insider trading related to the mobile game Dragon Quest Tact, and it'd make more sense. (Fortunately, Yuji Horii doesn't appear stupid enough to do that, so Yuji Naka it is.) But even if SQUARE ENIX wants the public to forget that they ever made the massive mistake of hiring Yuji Naka and giving him a chance, it's a fact that Yuji Naka also worked at SQUARE ENIX for years to make BALAN WONDERWORLD an unfortunate and awful reality.

Here's the story, as reported by the media. Back around November 2019, it became known within SQUARE ENIX that they were working on Dragon Quest Tact, a mobile gacha game, to be released July 2020. But SQUARE ENIX would have a partner in this: Aiming Inc., which has a history of developing mobile games operated by other Japanese developers that seem successful enough. This partnership was likely to be a slam-dunk. Both SQUARE ENIX and Aiming are publicly traded companies, so a now-former SQUARE ENIX employee, Taisuke Sazaki, is accused of purchasing about 72,000 shares of Aiming Inc. between December 2019 and February 2020, as did his buddy, Fumiaki Suzuki (who bought 90,000 shares). The game was announced to the public (Aiming's involvement as well) on February 2020, meaning that stock trades made before February 2020 based on predicting the success of Dragon Quest Tact would be insider trading, since only SQUARE ENIX and Aiming would know about it. Yuji Naka, while still employed at SQUARE ENIX during January 2020, allegedly became aware of news going on in his company and also allegedly purchased 10,000 shares of Aiming. Here is an illustration of Aiming's stock price during the relevant time periods:

Aiming Inc share price before Dragon Quest Tact released and announced
This would be a good back-up plan to make money if I was spending my time making an awful videogame almost no one would end up buying.

As you can see from that chart, the stock price almost tripled soon after Dragon Quest Tact was suddenly announced and Aiming was said to be involved. It's figuratively a big deal—though literally (on an alleged basis) a big deal if you're Taisuke Sazaki, Fumiaka Suzuki, or Yuji Naka.

Everything is alleged and Yuji Naka (and the others) are innocent until proven guilty. But it is clear that Yuji Naka, who has since become a prolific user of Twitter, hasn't said anything since the media says he got arrested. Since most of his life trouble has come because he is unable to keep his mouth shut when he should be quiet, I figure if it was FAKE NEWS that he's been arrested, he would've said something about it. Clearly, he's physically unable to tweet right now.

Both SQUARE ENIX and Aiming have released statements about this news, and they're not denying this has happened. Aiming's statement was that they wanted to make it clear that no Aiming employees were involved in this scheme. SQUARE ENIX's statement is that they are fully cooperating with the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office, and the suspected employees have been harshly disciplined. ...Well, none of the suspects actually work at SQUARE ENIX anymore, so it's unclear how the company could discipline them. SQUARE ENIX claims that they will take “further” measures beyond their existing safeguards to make sure their employees don't insider trade ever again, including “more thorough employee education programs.”

If you ever work for a publicly traded company and have to sit through those training exercises, they're not fun and they're quite lengthy. I feel bad for the good employees who aren't dumb enough, like Yuji Naka, to insider trade (or get caught doing so). Now he's got himself into this situation, and maybe he'll finally calm down and rethink his stupid life decisions. (By the way, it's not “alleged” that Yuji Naka is a dumb person, regardless of the outcome of this case.)

To commemorate this occasion, I made some artwork. Now, I didn't have to do this, but I'm that happy right now. Not only did I make one piece of artwork, but I made... two:

Yuji Naka cage BALAN WONDERWORLD Chapter 10 Act 3 statue Artist Painters Block
The top half of Yuji Naka behind a cage from BALAN WONDERWORLD, Chapter 10 (The Artist with Painter's Block), Act 3.
He directed this game.

Sonic Adventure 2 Battle Dark Chao Garden cage Yuji Naka
The top half of Yuji Naka inside a cage from Sonic Adventure 2: Battle, in the Dark Chao Garden.
He produced this game.

At the very least, Yuji Naka proved, for at least a couple of years, that you don't have to be competent at game design to make a lot of money at a videogame company. You can (if the allegations are true) insider trade! Well, that's assuming that he was smart enough (big assumption!) to sell at the peak of Aiming Inc.'s value. Media reports haven't said whether or not he actually followed through with selling the shares he had purchased.

I'm unable to get reactions from Yuji Naka's cult, since it looks like the #WonderworldPositivity hashtag has nearly died out. (Given who this group consists of, they might have literally died from self-inflicted causes since I last checked on them in April.) Seems like the few that's left are too busy making transgender versions of Balan to notice. Far from surprising.

It's not a coincidence that this article was published on the same day that the United States of America celebrates Thanksgiving. You might consider that too harsh for a guy who is notable for making a really bad game, but he's also a bad person with an awful fanbase he fostered.

To his infinite amusement, Ludwig got to write a direct sequel to this article just two weeks later, featuring Yuji Naka getting arrested for a second time.
Yuji Naka has confessed to this insider trading.
Yuji Naka has been sentenced in court for his insider trading.

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