Level 5, a Japanese game company known for its Ni no Kuni, Professor Layton, and Yokai Watch series, decided to consolidate and focus on Japan in 2020, closing their American offices. It was a surprise and an upset to many; this was a developer that had previously had close ties with PlayStation, was respected enough by Square Enix to develop two mainline Dragon Quest games, collaborated with the beloved Studio Ghibli, and spawned a franchise that briefly rivaled Pokemon‘s Japanese popularity with Yo-kai Watch. Titles released since this restructure, like Yokai Watch Jam, Yokai Watch 4, and Megaton Musashi, have all been Japan-only releases. But now, North American Level-5 fans might have cause for celebration. The content of a recent job listing for Level-5 seems to imply that their IPs will be coming West once again.
According to a job listing on Level 5’s website discovered by Reddit user DylanXW3, the company is looking for a “Rights Business Representative” who will be responsible for the “proposal of game business utilizing our own IP to domestic and overseas game developers”. One of the “desired skills” they mention is business-level English comprehension. The listing goes on to specify more job responsibilities (translated by Google):
- With the recent globalization of the game business, we are looking for people to maximize the business scale as a content holder and actively develop Level-5’s IP not only in Japan but also on a global scale.
- Negotiations with domestic and overseas game developers, contract negotiation/conclusion, supervision, advertising, delivery, etc.
- Business planning
- Rights planning
- Translation (in consideration of skills and experience, we may ask for it)
What does this mean for Level-5?
It’s important to look at the second bullet point carefully and note that “game developers” are mentioned rather than “game publishers”. It’s possible that Google Translate isn’t conveying the text with adequate clarity, but if the job is to manage Level-5’s IPs and speak with developers, it’s possible Level-5 is looking for a situation similar to Konami’s. Konami, specifically in the case of Silent Hill, is not actively doing any game development but is allowing both Western and Eastern third-party developers to create Silent Hill games. Level-5 could be leveraging its IP in the same way, though this would be a much stranger move for a company with less valuable brands. No matter what road they decide to take, the job listing does appear to confirm that future Level-5 games are coming West.
Fans of Level 5’s first three original games, Dark Cloud, Dark Cloud 2, and Rogue Galaxy, should be aware that those IPs actually belong to Sony, so regardless of whether Level-5 is interested in international development or simply licensing, it’s unlikely we’ll see new titles related to these games.
Here’s hoping Level-5 returns to worldwide releases of their own games, rather than just allowing other companies to make new entries in their franchises. Ni no Kuni certainly deserves more than for its last entry to be a mobile game with cryptocurrency microtransactions.