Sonic Creator Admits To Illegally Trading Over $1 Million

An image shows Sonic the Hedgehog shrugging while sitting in a court room.

Image: Sega / Kotaku / Robyn Beck (Getty Images)

Earlier today, Sonic the Hedgehog co-creator Yuji Naka admitted to doing insider trading while working at Square Enix.

Read More: Sonic Co-Creator Charged With Illegally Trading Over $1 Million In Final Fantasy Stock

During his first trial with the Tokyo District Court this week, Naka admitted to violating Japan’s Financial Instruments and Exchange Act for trading $1 million in stocks while working at Square Enix, according to NHK.

“There is no doubt that I knew the facts about the game before it was made public and bought the stock,” Yuji said, according to Japanese outlet TBS (which was translated by Time Extension).

Read More: Square Enix Kills Its Final Fantasy 7 Battle Royale Before It’s Even A Year Old

Last year, Naka was arrested twice over allegations of insider trading in relation to Dragon Quest prior to developer Aiming going public with Dragon Quest Tact, and for purchasing $1 million shares in ATeam Entertainment prior to the studio going public with Square Enix’s mobile battle royale game, Final Fantasy VII: The First Soldier. Naka was allegedly arrested along with Taisuke Sasaki, a former Square Enix employee who worked on multiple Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts projects, according to Eurogamer.

Naka allegedly purchased 10,000 shares (2.8 million yen / about $20,000) in Tact’s developer Aiming’s stock according to AV Club. Naka also allegedly paid 144.7 million yen ($1,051,000) for 120,000 shares in ATeam, according to Asahi.

Naka’s most recent Square Enix game was the contentious Balan Wonderworld. Naka would later sue Square Enix for being let go from the studio six months before the game’s release. It has yet to be disclosed whether or not the two parties ever reached a resolution.

Kotaku reached out to Square Enix and Sega for comment.

The Great Pokémon Trading Card Game Migration Is In June

Pikachu is seen walking in front of a computer and phone playing Pokémon Trading Card Game Live.

Image: The Pokémon Company

The Pokémon Company is officially migrating its online trading card ecosystem to its new app, Pokémon Trading Card Game Live, on June 8. This means if you’ve been playing the digital card game on Pokémon Trading Card Game Online, which has been the platform for official online play since 2011, you’ll have to make the switch at the beginning of next month, as the original app is being completely removed from digital storefronts the same week.

Pokémon Trading Card Game Live has been in beta since November, and if you’ve already been playing the game over there, not much will change when the full game launches next month. But if you’ve been holding off on making the switch, you’ll have to once the Pokémon Trading Card Game Online app is delisted from mobile and desktop storefronts on June 5. Players have had a bit of time to make the transition, and The Pokémon Company stopped adding new cards and packs to Online back in March. So anyone using it hasn’t been able to play with cards from the recent Scarlet and Violet packs, though they will be supported in Live. The Online app will continue to support Versus Ladder reward tracks and bug fixes up until its sunsetting in June.

In the meantime, anyone who logs into Pokémon Trading Card Game Live between now and launch day will receive commemorative accessories, including a coin, card sleeves, and deck box all featuring the Global Beta logo.

All of this follows some controversy surrounding the transition between the Online and Live clients. Both apps use the same online profile, so transferring from one app to the other isn’t that difficult, but Live has come under fire for drawbacks compared to Online, including a loss of in-game currency when transferring and a general lack of feature parity. On top of this, booster packs have fewer cards in Live than they did in Online, which The Pokémon Company has deemed “optimal” for the game’s economy. But warts and all, this is the game online Pokémon players will have to use come June. Hopefully the bugs in the beta are ironed out, but most of all, hopefully some of these changes will be reverted to give folks a better version of the Pokémon Trading Card Game instead of a substandard one.

Diablo IV Freezes Trading After Gold Exploit Crashes The Market

The second-hand market for trading gold and items in Diablo IV is currently on hold as Blizzard investigates the rise of new item duplication glitches and gold exploits. The unusual economic intervention comes as the action-RPG’s market gets flooded with gold, and some players reportedly trade gear that’s not even that great for billions of in-game currency.

“We’ve suspended player trading in Diablo IV until further notice due to a gold and item duplication exploit,” a community manager for the company posted on the Blizzard forums on August 14. “We are working on a fix to amend this issue and will update you once we’ve reinstated the ability to trade. Once that is done, we will continue to monitor this activity to ensure a healthy playing experience for all.”

Diablo III’s controversial auction house was killed just two years into the game’s life, with the pay-to-win social hub souring many players on the random loot drop experience at the heart of the game. Blizzard didn’t want to repeat the same mistakes with Diablo IV, and in addition to not having an official auction house, one-to-one trading between players is pretty limited. The sequels’s most powerful gear, Legendary and unique items, can’t be traded. Neither can Aspects or most in-game currencies.

A screenshot shows community unrest about the state of gold dupping.

Screenshot: Reddit / Kotaku

Gold, gems, and rare items can be, however, and it’s led to some pretty wild results in recent days as apparent duplication glitches and gold-earning exploits load players up with tons of extra mid-level loot. A couple weeks into the current Season of the Malignant, players on the Diablo IV subreddit began reporting eye-popping trade requests in the neighborhood of five to 10 billion.

Some on the game’s official forums called on Blizzard to remove all of the allegedly duped gold in the Diablo IV economy, which seemingly involves up to 10 million players or more at this point. In mid-July, some third-party sites were selling 100 million in-game gold for $4. More recently you could get 1 billion for the same amount.

A screenshot shows the price of gold on a third-party marketplace.

Screenshot: IGGM / Kotaku

“Overall, the situation is a great recipe for a chaotic market,” one Diablo IV trader who goes by WretcH on Discord told Kotaku. “Exploits bringing a ton of gold into the economy, a significant amount of players who lack general knowledge of what makes gear good buying and selling, and a total lack of a unified and cohesive marketplace. It’s the wild west out here.”

It’s not clear at the moment what the precise source of the extra items and gold flooding the market is. There are rumors of dupping glitches being carried over from Diablo III and gold farming bots running amok. And none of this, from third-party trading sites to online gold sellers, is officially sanctioned by Blizzard, so dabbling in any of it always brings the risk of a ban.

“Engaging in exploits such as item/gold duping or real money transactions with third parties can result in account actions,” Blizzard told Kotaku last week when asked about the current market conditions and accusations. “We are currently investigating all reports.”

    

$400 Pokémon Trading Card Game Classic Pre-Orders Sold Out

Back in February, The Pokémon Company announced it was reprinting beloved cards from the very start of the Pokémon trading card game, including the original holographic Venusuar, Charizard, and Blastoise, as part of a $400 board game set. Pre-orders went live on September 21 and sold out in the first hour.

We now know exactly which cards are in the three decks featured in the Pokémon Trading Card Game Classic set, as well as its release date: November 17. The set also features brand new cards, including Lugia ex, Ho-Oh ex, Suicune ex, and a version of Mr. Mime that’s releasing outside of Japan for the very first time.

Pre-orders went live on The Pokémon Company’s own Pokémon Center storefront and GameStop shortly after the release date was revealed, and stock immediately ran out. Pre-orders are also expected to become available at BestBuy, Target, and other retailers at some point, but it’s not exactly clear when, or if they’ll take any longer to sell out when they do. It’s also possible that some stores are reserving some stock for additional pre-order waves.

The Pokémon Company didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

A screenshot shows scalper prices on eBay.

Screenshot: eBay / Kotaku

The Pokémon Trading Card Game Classic set trades on millenial nostalgia for the original late ‘90s heyday of the Game Boy RPGs and their trading card spin-off. I still remember exactly where I was when I opened my first three Pokémon booster packs ever and got a holographic Venusaur and Poliwrath, both of which have long since vanished. I now have kids of my own, and it’s clear the set and its absurd $400 price tag is aimed squarely at me.

As news of the initial pre-orders selling out made the rounds on Reddit, collectors were quick to point out that you can actually buy copies of the original cards, including holographic Charizards, for way less. The three decks featured in the Classic set aren’t tournament legal either. It’s effectively just an expensive novelty replica. “This is so not worth it,” wrote one fan. “Cool thing but $150 is my price point. Would rather go buy the big 3 vintage and a Switch Lite for this cost.”

For anyone who does want the Pokémon Trading Card Game Classic set, they’ll have to keep their eyes peeled for new rounds of pre-orders. Scalpers are already trying to flip their existing orders on sites like eBay for hundreds more than the standard sticker price. It seems unlikely that anyone will actually buy them at the up to $800 that resellers are currently requesting per set, but if The Pokémon Company doesn’t end up printing enough stock to meet demand, a few desperate fans might.

In the meantime, the Scarlet and Violet-era Pokémon 151 set takes the original Kanto Pokémon and features them with beautiful new art. The expansion launched on September 22.

Update 9/27/2023 12:50 p.m. ET: A spokesperson for The Pokémon Company International said it’s aware fans are dealing with stock shortages and blamed global freight costs for the price of the set outside of Japan. “We are working to address it where it is within our control,” they wrote in an email. Here’s the full statement:

We’re aware that some fans are experiencing difficulties purchasing Pokémon Trading Card Game Classic due to very high demand impacting availability. In addition, due to rising global freight costs, Pokémon Trading Card Game Classic will see higher MSRPs in markets outside of Japan. We understand this inconvenience can be disappointing for fans, and we are working to address it where it is within our control. Fans will have additional opportunities to purchase Pokémon Trading Card Game Classic when it releases on Nov. 17 at participating retailers while supplies last, and some retailers will restock the product later this year.

Pokémon Trading Card Game Classic is uniquely and thoughtfully designed to be a staple playset that is both beautiful and functional, delivering a polished and elevated battling experience for all types of Pokémon TCG fans. We are grateful to the community for their continued support and patience as we work to deliver fun and innovative Pokémon TCG products, including premium items like Pokémon Trading Card Game Classic.

Buy Pokemon Scarlet and Violet 151 Collection Elite Trainer Box: Best Buy | GameStop

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Goldman Sachs Employee Allegedly Used Xbox For Insider Trading

Leonardo DiCaprio stands behind an Xbox 360.

Image: Paramount Pictures / Microsoft / Kotaku

A newly unsealed FBI indictment accuses a former analyst at Goldman Sachs of insider trading, including allegedly using an Xbox to pass tips onto his close friends. The friend group earned over $400,000 in ill-gotten gains as a result, federal prosecutors claim. “There’s no tracing [Xbox 360 chat],” the analyst allegedly told his friend who was worried they might be discovered. He appears to have made a grave miscalculation.

The FBI arrested Anthony Viggiano and alleged co-conspirator Christopher Salamone, charging them with securities fraud on September 28. Viggiano is accused of using his previous position at Goldman Sachs to share trading tips with Salamone and others. Salamone has already pleaded guilty. Bloomberg reports that this is the fifth incident in recent years of a person associated with the investment bank allegedly using their position to do crimes.

Viggiano and Salamone were childhood friends, the FBI claims, and beginning last last Salamone allegedly purchased shares and call options for obscure companies including Maxar Technologies, Atlas Technical Consultant, and Syneous Health, after receiving tips from Viggiano. It sounds like at least some of this insider info was shared on Microsoft’s high tech, ultra-secure gaming platform.

“Signal, or like Xbox 360 chat, there’s no tracing that, good luck ever finding that,” Viggiano allegedly told Salamone in a recording made by the latter after both were first interviewed by the FBI in June. The two were discussing who in their inner circle might flip, with Viggiano trying to assure Salamone that potential incriminating evidence was out of the FBI’s reach. “So, I mean, at worst—we’re talking worst-case scenario, maybe I said something in…like the very first [message to Steve]. But that’s the worst case.”

It’s not clear if both friends actually still played games on the Xbox 360 in the year 2022, or if Viggiano was mis-remembering the name of the Xbox One or Xbox Series X/S. Maybe they did use the original 2005 console to communicate, thinking it was somehow more private as a result of its archaic interface and outdated systems. We also don’t know if the FBI ever actually got ahold of the Xbox chats in question, or merely got Salamone to confess by making it seem like they did.

Probably best to keep the crime talk on Xbox to a minimum either way, especially now that Microsoft is using AI to monitor communications for illicit and toxic activities.

       

Rocket League Will Ban Item Trading, Nuking Market For Skins

A major shakeup is coming to Rocket League’s player community. The popular car soccer game will turn off the option to trade items starting in Season 13, destroying the vibrant market around buying and selling cosmetics in the process. Fans appear universally shocked, confused, and frustrated by the move.

The last day to trade items in the Epic-owned free-to-play game will be December 5, the day before season 13 goes live. After that, players will no longer have an option to share their favorite hats, rims, and exhaust trails with one another, or sell them on third-party marketplaces. “We’re making this change to align with Epic’s overall approach to game cosmetics and item shop policies, where items aren’t tradable, transferrable, or sellable,” developer Psyonix wrote in an announcement on the game’s website.

The studio said this shift “opens up future plans” to have some vehicles be owned across multiple Epic games. Presumably, you might buy the Ghostbusters Ectomobile once in Rocket League and then be able to use it in Fortnite as well. The ability to transfer items between seperate games is a big part of the promise and challenge underlying pitches for a gaming “metaverse” made by Epic CEO Tim Sweeney and others. At the same time, it’s not clear what the benefit of an “open” metaverse is if all the transactions are still routed through Epic’s in-game shops. Sweeney has previously blasted companies like Apple and Google for creating closed platforms that don’t offer users choice.

Item trading was added to Rocket League seven years ago in the Rumble update. The approach to random cosmetics that dropped after matches was similar to Valve games like Counter-Strike and Team Fortress 2, both of which have also cultivated lively and lucrative second-hand markets for in-game items. Some Rocket League players just trade with friends for fun or to get rid of duplicate items, while others try to amass collections that can sell for hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Lending is also a big part of the community around Rocket League’s in-game economy. Players might agree to share rare items for a set duration of time before giving them back.

In its FAQ about the changes, Psyonix stressed that players will still be able to trade their duplicate items back to Epic for a shot at another random cosmetic of a higher rarirty, but that all current trades will be final after December 5. At that time, “Websites or servers advertising such services are fraudulent and have no connection to Psyonix or Epic Games.”

The reaction by the Rocket League community so far has been surprise followed by swift condemnation. “RATIO FOR MY ALPHA BOOST,” tweeted pro player Tristan “Atow.” Soyez. “Killing the game even more good shit lads,” tweeted Finlay “rise.” Ferguson. The subreddit for the game is also in shambles. “Epic Games was supposed to be this huge thing for the game, and all they have done is increased Esports prize money and made it more global,” reads one top comment. “They have basically said ‘fuck you’ to the casual community since they bought Psyonix. Removing trading is genuinely the stupidest idea I have ever seen.”

The announcement comes after parent company Epic Games recently announced 860 layoffs, impacting Psyonix, Fall Guys maker Mediatonic, and other parts of its growing Fortnite empire. Sweeney told attendees at an Unreal Engine conference that it wasn’t until “about 10 weeks ago” that the company realized it was having financial troubles that would apparently need to be addressed so quickly and drastically. It’s not clear if Psyonix was already planning to remove item trading from the game prior to these cuts.

           

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