Game programmer and director Yuji Naka revealed on Twitter on Thursday that he had filed a lawsuit against Square Enix following his departure from the company. He said he can now speak out about the situation as the trial has ended, although he did not give details about the results of the trial.
Naka claimed that according to court documents, Square Enix removed him as the director of the Balan Wonderworld game six months before the game launched because of a strained relationship with the game’s developer Arzest, and a dispute over the game’s soundtrack. Naka added that according to court documents, Square Enix removed him as the director because of objections from the producer, head of marketing, head of sound, managing director, and human resources at the company.
Naka said he hired a lawyer to help him negotiate the ability to give comments to the developers up until the game released since “improving a game up until the very last minute is what a game creator is,” but as Square Enix rejected his requests, he decided to take the matter to court.
Naka stated he had wanted to improve the game as Arzest had submitted it without fixing bugs, and according to him, court documents showed Square Enix personnel stated the relationship between Square Enix and Arzest broke down after his comments about the game’s bugs. Regarding the soundtrack issue, Naka said he made an objection to the game’s promotional material using an arranged piano performance instead of the original game track, since according to him an original game should use an original song instead of an arranged version. Naka added the court documents stated his insistence on using the original song caused trouble during the production.
He claimed Square Enix removed him as the director while the game was still in an unfinished state and then released the game similarly in an unfinished state. He also apologized to fans who purchased the game in that state.
Naka concluded his Twitter thread by stating, “I think that Square Enix and Arzest are companies that do not care about games or game fans.”
Naka resigned from Square Enix at the end of April 2021. He had stated at the time that he could not explain the reason for the resignation, but would talk about it publicly when the time came. He then announced in September 2021 he was creating a smartphone game as a solo creator, and he released the “hyper-casual” SHOT2048 smartphone game on December 18.
Naka worked for 22 years at Sega. He is the former head of the Sonic Team and lead programmer of the original Sonic the Hedgehog games for Sega Genesis. He also worked on such games as Nights into Dreams and Phantasy Star Online while at Sega.
Naka is the president and CEO of the PROPE game development company, which he founded in 2006 after leaving Sega. At PROPE, he worked on such games as Fishing Resort, Buddy Monster, and Legend of Coin.
Naka joined Square Enix in January 2018. Square Enix released Balan Wonderworld for Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC via Steam in March 2021.
Image via Yuji Naka‘s Twitter account