Ex-Square Enix employee and former game director of Balan Wonderworld Yuji Naka revealed that he sued the company over his removal from the game’s development. Naka explained why Square Enix had removed him as director six months before the game’s release. Naka also revealed that Square Enix forbade him to talk about Balan Wonderworld‘s development afterward.
In a multi-Tweet thread, Yuji Naka described the troubles that led to his removal from Balan Wonderworld. The decision to remove Naka from development was jointly decided by the producer, public relations, sound director, head director, and human resources. Notably, Square Enix had removed him for two specific reasons, according to court documents.
The first reason was that he had spoken against plans to have a YouTuber perform a piano arrangement for promotional purposes. Naka stated that he felt “it was odd that they would decide to use an arranged version of the song, written by a ghostwriter no less, for the release of an original game.” Naka reportedly got into trouble after he addressed this fact, and stated that they should instead use the original song.
The second reason involved the development company Arzest. Naka revealed that though there were unresolved technical issues during development, Arzest had been sending submissions without resolving them. Coupled with Naka’s comments towards the company and comments to improve the game, Square Enix stated that Naka was “causing strain on its business relationship with Arzest.” This led co-creator Naoto Oshima to talk about the issue with the producer Noriyoshi Fujimoto. Naka later states that he believed it was “wrong to remove a director without discussion for providing comments” and “not let them participate whatsoever.”
We are making games, so it should be common sense to submit correction requests to make a better product. If you can’t do that, then you can simply talk about it together, but apparently they can’t do that. I don’t think they care enough about games.
Ultimately, Naka attempted to talk with the legal team in order to release a statement about Balan Wonderworld‘s development to fans, but to no avail. This led Naka to file a lawsuit and eventually speak out after the lawsuit ended. Naka apologized to fans for what he personally saw as an incomplete product. While he feels that game creators should “continue striving to improve a game to the last minute,” Naka believes that “Square Enix and Arzest are companies that do not care about games or fans.”
Balan Wonderworld is available for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and PC. You can also read our review.