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Friday, June 2, 2023

Disgraced Game Developer Yuji Naka Faces Guilty Verdict, 2.5 Years in Prison, and 1.24 million USD in Fines

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - I'm satisfied.

Quick recap of my favourite story of 2022–2023: Yuji Naka, who is the bad game director behind mega-flop BALAN WONDERWORLD (regrettably published by SQUARE ENIX) and an ex-member of the Sonic Team, was arrested in November for insider trading he did while at SQUARE ENIX based on privileged information that Aiming Inc. would be the developer of Dragon Quest Tact. Then Yuji Naka was arrested a few weeks later in December because investigators found out he also insider-traded shares of Ateam Inc. based on their development of the upcoming FINAL FANTASY VII: The First Soldier.

Basically, those games existing are big deals and big breaks for those developers because they're based on big brands, and if you know who the game's developer is before it's announced, you can buy a bunch of shares pre-announcement while the share price is low, and then sell after the price pops up once their involvement in the highly anticipated games is made known.

GameStop pre-owned used BALAN WONDERWORLD prices 2023 PlayStation Xbox Nintendo Switch
I actually saw BALAN WONDERWORLD displayed at a GameStop earlier this week for $20 USD.
Digitally, it sells for $40 USD. But I also guess GameStop has a whole bunch of used/pre-owned BALAN WONDERWORLD inventory they want to get rid of for bargain bin prices.
They might as well put those copies in a landfill like it's E.T. all over again.
(By the way, I bought Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe while shopping. See? I did follow up.)

Yuji Naka couldn't cut it as a game director in the modern era, so he tried using his access to confidential SQUARE ENIX information as his way to get ahead in life. He didn't have a real defence for himself, and he already confessed in court to the facts described above. So, where does that leave the judge?

Judge Ace Attorney Trilogy case is extremely clear no room for misintepretation of the facts game over
The judge in this case has no choice but to come to this verdict.

Japanese sources claim that on June 1, 2023, the Tokyo District Court declared that Yuji Naka was sentenced to two years and six months in prison. Yuji Naka must also pay a 2.5 million yen fine (which is a mere 18 thousand USD), as well as an additional fine of 170 million yen (a much more substantial 1.22 million USD) on account for him not having remorse for his crime. That's a much harsher punishment than I was anticipating, and I'm pretty happy about it.

Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney Trilogy Judge Guilty text
GUILTY! Come on, where's the confetti?

This isn't the end of the story, though. While Yuji Naka's defence attorney wasn't able to develop a real defence because his client already admitted his guilty, the attorney does wish to negotiate a shorter prison sentence and a smaller fine, claiming that Yuji Naka wasn't acting intentionally and it was all somehow an accident.

That's clearly a fruitless argument, since one doesn't “accidentally” buy and sell stocks for almost 150,000 USD in profit. Yuji Naka could have plausibly been looking through confidential SQUARE ENIX company records that didn't pertain to his line of work on two separate occasions months or even a year apart and accidentally come across this information. Yes, perhaps he was bored at work and wanted to know what was going on in other parts of the business so he could be well-rounded or change departments because BALAN WONDERWORLD was a stressful nightmare to develop. But you then don't accidentally buy stocks in public companies based on that information. That's the difference between a lawful and ethical person (like everyone—as far as we know—who was actually working on Dragon Quest Tact or FINAL FANTASY VII: The First Soldier) and an unlawful, immoral, and unethical scumbag like Yuji Naka.

We expect to hear the final punishment, given the defence attorney's pleas, from the court on July 7. Even if KoopaTV won't be around to comment on it then, I'll certainly be paying attention. My hope is that they don't reduce the punishment at all.

Ludwig is normally a soft-on-crime political figure, but something about Yuji Naka just gets him enthusiastically endorsing harsh treatment of wrongdoers. This may be the last KoopaTV article about Yuji Naka, so Ludwig hopes you liked it. He liked writing it. He used screenshots from Ace Attorney because that is a game series you should actually buy into, unlike anything Yuji Naka has worked on lately. The #WonderworldPositivity cult is too focused on Pride Month to provide a reaction to their cult creator's predicament.

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