Update (6/6/21) – Yuji Naka has confirmed his departure from Square Enix on Twitter, saying that he is considering retirement and that, while he can’t talk about the reason for leaving the company now, he hopes he can one day.
I retired from SQUARE ENIX at the end of April 2021 because I would like to contact the media and users,” Naka wrote, as translated by Google Translate. “I can’t talk about the reason now, but I hope I can talk about it when the time comes. As for future activities, I’m 55 years old, so I may retire. The photo is taken by Sega Hard Historia. Balan Wonderworld director and Sonic the Hedgehog co-creator Yuji Naka has unexpectedly left Square Enix, following a poor reception to his latest game.:
Original story follows.
IGN has independently verified that Naka left the company at the end of April, after Nintendeal pointed out that the developer’s Facebook page had been updated to list an end point to his employment at Square Enix. It remains unclear if Naka’s departure was his decision or Square Enix’s.
Upon joining Square Enix, Naka had opened his own internal studio, Balan Company, to make Balan Wonderworld. Naka had previously told IGN that the game was his “one chance” to make a platformer for the publisher. When the game arrived, it was critically panned, and has seemingly struggled commercially.
IGN awarded the game a 4/10 review, saying that it “isn’t always an awful platformer, but it is a consistently boring one.” After arriving in March, the game never cracked the top 20 best-selling games in the US, according to NPD reports, and SteamDB reports that the game reached a peak number of concurrent players the day after launch, with just 124.
Much remains unclear after Naka’s departure, including what his next move will be, or what the fate of Balan Company and its other employees has been. IGN has contacted Naka and Square Enix for comment.