It seems that Yuji Naka isn’t happy with his time working at Square-Enix, which started back in 2019. Since then Yuji Naka and Square-Enix have announced Balan Wonderworld, had him removed as director before the game released and ended with Yuji Naka leaving Square-Enix last year. Yuji Naka has actually been rather silent over the whole thing, even if Balan Wonderworld has been getting trashed online for months after release, which dragged his name through the dirt.
Now Yuji Naka has taken to Twitter to discuss working with Square-Enix, saying that the company doesn’t value making good games and that Yuji Naka even tried to get his lawyer involved so they could get more time to develop Balan Wonderworld. The messages below are from his Japanese Twitter thread, translated via @Cheesemeister3k:
“I was removed as the director of Balan Wonderworld about half a year before release, so I filed a lawsuit against Square-Enix. Now that the proceedings are over and I’m no longer bound by company rules, I’d like to speak out. I think it’s wrong of Square-Enix not to value games and game fans. According to court documents, I was removed as the director of Balan Wonderworld for 2 reasons. It was done by the producer, head of marketing, head of sound, managing director, and HR.
First, when a YouTuber’s arranged piano performance of the game music was released in a promotion instead of the original game track, turning the composer into a ghostwriter, I insisted that the original track be released and this caused trouble. Second, according to court documents, [Naoto] Ohshima told producer [Noriyoshi] Fujimoto that the relationship with Arzest was ruined due to comments I made wanting to improve the game in the face of Arzest submitting the game without fixing bugs.
Also, in an e-mail from Ohshima to Fujimoto, he wrote: ‘I just told the staff about the demo delay. When I told them, ‘This was prod. Fujimoto’s decision. Let’s do our best for him,’ the staff applauded and cheered. This was unexpected, and I was moved. The staff’s been down lately, but their spirits have been revived. Thank you very much. All of us on the staff will work hard.’ So the schedule wasn’t up to me, but the producer, yet the schedule being tight was the producer’s doing. Something was off. We were releasing an original game, but only putting out an arranged track was definitely wrong. I believe that the game music that everyone can hum out are the original tracks
I believe that every effort must be put in to make games the best they can be until the very end so that game fans will enjoy what they buy. It wasn’t right to, without discussion, remove and completely disassociate from the project a director saying so. Retweeting, liking, etc. on SNS and such was banned, so I don’t think Square Enix values game fans. There were many comments and wonderful illustrations about Balan Wonderworld, and I’m really sorry that I couldn’t react to them.
Myself, I’m truly sorry to the customers who bought Balan Wonderworld in an unfinished state. From this point onward, I will be able to react to posts tagging me or directed only toward me on SNS and such. I believe that when making games, asking for fixes in order to make something good should be a given, and if that’s not possible, it should be talked over, but it looks like they can’t. I don’t think they value games. For Sonic the Hedgehog, 2 weeks before finalizing, the spec was changed so that if you have even 1 ring, you won’t die. This now well-known rule was the result of improving the game until the very end, and people world-over have enjoyed it as a result.
Improving a game until the very end is what being a game creator is all about, and if that’s not possible, something’s wrong. I asked my lawyer to negotiate my just being able to comment until the end of production, but their refusal led me to file suit. I think that the resulting Balan Wonderworld and the critical reception it received have a lot to do with what happened. I’m really disappointed that a product I worked on from the start turned out this way.
I personally regret that Balan Wonderworld was released to the world in an unfinished state. I wanted to consider all kinds of things and release it as a proper action game. I don’t think that Square-Enix and Arzest value games and their fans.” – Yuji Naka