Sonic the Hedgehog creator sentenced to 2.5 years in prison

The main developer of behind the classic video game franchise Sonic the Hedgehog has been found guilty of insider trading.

 Sonic the Hedgehog (Illustrative) (photo credit: PIXABAY)
Sonic the Hedgehog (Illustrative)
(photo credit: PIXABAY)

The creator of one of gaming's most iconic characters has found himself behind bars. Yuji Naka, the creator of Sonic the Hedgehog, was arrested in Japan last November after being accused of insider trading at Square Enix, where he was working since 2018.

Back in March 2023, Naka pled guilty and this week, he was sentenced to two years and six months in prison, along with a fine of 172 million yen (or $1,230,066).

Naka bought 2.8 million yen worth of shares in game development company Aiming before its involvement with Square Enix was made known to the public. However, at this time, Aiming was working on a new mobile game for the Dragon Quest franchise, considered to be one of Japan's most popular and successful RPG franchises.

Two former Square Enix employees also being investigated under the same suspicions were the ones who eventually led to Naka's arrest, with the three of them having used insider information for equity and illegally trading shares.

How did Yuji Naka go from Sonic to Square to prison?

Naka left Sega and the Sonic brand back in 2006. After that, he developed the independent gaming studio Probe, which mainly developed mobile games, before joining Square Enix in 2018 to help with his new game, Balan Wonderworld

 Video game developer Yuji Naka (illustrative) (credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Video game developer Yuji Naka (illustrative) (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

It was around this time that the Dragon Quest mobile game was also in development.

Even before his arrest though, Naka left Square Enix, accusing them of rushing Balan Wonderworld's launch and leaving it unfinished. 

Naka also sued the game's distributor, arguing that it removed him from his position as game director prior to launch.