|Kabushiki gaisha Reberu Faibu|
|Industry||Video game industry|
(CEO and President)
Number of employees
Level-5 Inc. is a Japanese video game developer and publisher based in Fukuoka, who are best known for their Professor Layton, Inazuma Eleven, Ni no Kuni, and Yo-kai Watch franchises. The company was founded in October 1998 by Akihiro Hino after he departed from the now defunct Riverhillsoft.
Early in its history, the company enjoyed a close relationship with Sony Computer Entertainment, with many of its titles funded by and produced in conjunction with them. Starting in 2007, the company started self-publishing its titles in Japan, while Nintendo took over publishing on their systems internationally. By the early 2010s, Level-5 was one of the ten largest video game companies in Japan, holding a market share of 3.2%.
Level-5 was established in October 1998 by Akihiro Hino and his development team at Riverhillsoft, following the release of OverBlood 2. Since Hino did not originally believe that his team could become an independent developer, he formed a partnership with Sony Computer Entertainment, who would allow him to develop for their upcoming PlayStation 2 under the condition that he set up his own company. The name, "Level-5", was a reference to Japanese school report cards, where "Level-5" is the highest possible mark. Soon after being created, the company had eleven employees.
Level-5's first full-scale production was the action role-playing game Dark Cloud, developed under contract by Sony Computer Entertainment. Intended to be a launch game for the Japanese release of the PlayStation 2, it was delayed before the console's launch in March 2000 to allow further development, eventually being released in Japan in December 2000, and worldwide in 2001. Work immediately began on a sequel titled Dark Chronicle (Dark Cloud 2 in North America). While not as successful as the first game, Dark Chronicle still gained critical acclaim and sold over half a million units worldwide.
Midway through 2002, the company had a substantial boost in recognition as it began development on three high-profile titles:
- True Fantasy Live Online for Microsoft, an MMORPG which was to become one of the premier titles for the Xbox and Xbox Live service in Japan before it was abruptly canceled in 2004.
- Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King for Square Enix, who had handpicked Level-5 to develop the title under the supervision of series designer Yuji Horii and his team at Armor Project.
- Rogue Galaxy, the studio's third RPG for Sony Computer Entertainment, with a larger budget and more creative freedom than its previous productions with the publisher.
In just four years, Level-5 went from small startup studio to one of the premier RPG developers in Japan, and have since enjoyed immense critical and commercial success. In early 2007, the company released its first fully self-funded and self-published title in Japan, Professor Layton and the Curious Village, which has since enjoyed incredible commercial success, shipping more than 840,000 copies to retail, and has officially transitioned Level-5 into both a developer and publisher of interactive video game entertainment in Japan.
Yasumi Matsuno, director of Vagrant Story, Final Fantasy Tactics, and the Ogre Battle series, briefly joined Level-5 in June 2011, who left the company after completing work on Crimson Shroud for the Nintendo 3DS. In October 2015, Level-5 founded a spin-off company in Santa Monica, in cooperation with Dentsu, called Level-5 abby. Its purpose is to develop multimedia entertainment for Western demographics.
In 2009, Level-5 launched its Roid (Revolutionary Original Ideas Discovery) service, a mobile phone application that serves as a content delivery platform for mobile games. It is only compatible with NTT DoCoMo's i-mode mobile internet service in Japan. Users pay a monthly fee for access to exclusive games and social game functions. The platform debuted with six titles: Sloan and McHale's Mystery Story, Professor Layton and the Mansion of the Mirror of Death Remix, Chara Jo P, Yuuenchi wo Tsukurō Revolution, Treasure Island, and Elf the Dragon. The first three were developed by Level-5, while the last three were developed by outside companies.
List of games
- "Market Data". Capcom. September 30, 2013. Retrieved August 28, 2014.
- Hino, Akihiro; Iwata, Satoru (2010). "Iwata Asks: Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracles, page 2". Iwata Asks. Nintendo of America Inc. Retrieved December 8, 2011.
- "How Yasumi Matsuno Ended Up at Level-5". June 30, 2011. Archived from the original on June 30, 2011.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
- "Yasumi Matsuno leaves Level 5". November 8, 2012.
- "LEVEL-5 abby Inc".
- "Level-5's ROID Service Kicks Off Today -- Andriasang.com". December 24, 2012. Archived from the original on December 24, 2012.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
- "Level-5 International America History & Products 2009". 2011. Retrieved July 27, 2011.
- "Level-5 International America History & Products 2010". 2011. Retrieved July 27, 2011.
- "In shops now: Inazuma Eleven 2: Firestorm and Inazuma Eleven 2: Blizzard". 2012. Retrieved May 10, 2012.
- "TGS 2009: White Knight Chronicles 2 Revealed". Kotaku.
- "今度の敵は未来から!? 『イナズマイレブン』感謝祭で映画版・Wii版・第4弾を発表 - 電撃オンライン" (in Japanese). News.dengeki.com. June 27, 2010. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
- "3DS Inazuma Eleven Due This Winter". June 19, 2011. Archived from the original on June 19, 2011.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
- "Level-5 Bringing Mobile Hostess Sim to 3DS (andriasang.com, 10.20.2010)". October 22, 2010. Archived from the original on October 22, 2010.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
- "Girl's RPG Cinderelife - In Development". Archived from the original on March 28, 2012. Retrieved July 27, 2011.
- GUEST. "Level-5 Vision 2010 Live Blog (andriasang.com, 10.19.2010)". Web.archive.org. Archived from the original on October 21, 2010. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
- Gantayat, Anoop (2011). "First Professor Layton Crosses One Million". Adriasang. Archived from the original on April 8, 2011. Retrieved July 27, 2011.
- "Yo-kai Watch: Wibble Wobble". yo-kai-wibblewobble.com.
- "オトメ勇者". Official Otome Yusha game page.
- Romano, Sal. "Yo-kai Sangokushi: Kunitori Wars now available in Japan". Gematsu. Retrieved January 23, 2018.
- "The Snack World: Trejarers Is Headed To Nintendo Switch". Siliconera. Retrieved January 15, 2018.
- Sato. "Yo-kai Watch World For Smartphones Is The Series' Take On Pokémon GO". Siliconera. Retrieved July 11, 2018.
- Sato. "Fantasy Life Online Goes Live In Japan On July 23". Siliconera. Retrieved September 20, 2018.
- Ryan, Craddock. "Yo-Kai Watch 4 Has Been Delayed Until Spring 2019 In Japan". Nintendo Life. Retrieved October 12, 2018.