Girish Mahajan (Editor)

Level 5 (company)

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Native name  株式会社レベルファイブ
Founder  Akihiro Hino
Type of business  Kabushiki gaisha
Industry  Video game industry
CEO  Akihiro Hino (Sep 1998–)
Number of employees  280 (September 2015)
Level-5 (company) logonoidcomimageslevel5logopng

Key people  Akihiro Hino (CEO and President)
Products  Dark Cloud series Professor Layton series Inazuma Eleven series Little Battlers Experience series Yo-kai Watch series Ni no Kuni series
Headquarters  Fukuoka, Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan
Founded  October 1998, Fukuoka, Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan
Video games  Yo‑Kai Watch, Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White, Inazuma Eleven, Fantasy Life, Inazuma Eleven GO

Level-5 Inc. (株式会社レベルファイブ, Kabushiki-gaisha Reberu Faibu) is a Japanese video game developer and publisher based in Fukuoka, Japan, best known for their Professor Layton, Inazuma Eleven, Ni no Kuni, and Yo-kai Watch franchises, among others. The company, which employs around 280 individuals, was founded in October 1998 by Akihiro Hino, after he departed from the now defunct Japanese developer 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. In 2013, Level-5 was one of the ten largest video game companies in Japan, where it held a 3.2% market share.


Level-5 was established in October 1998 by Akihiro Hino and his development team at Riverhillsoft, following the release of OverBlood 2 in 1998. They had left so that they could continue to focus on creating 3D games. 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 RPG Dark Cloud, developed under contract by Sony Computer Entertainment, originally for the Japanese launch of the PlayStation 2 in March 2000. However, it was delayed before the console's launch to allow further development, and eventually 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, California, in cooperation with Dentsu, called Level-5 abby. Its purpose is to develop multimedia entertainment for the western demographic.

    Roid service

    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.


    Level-5 (company) Wikipedia