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Level-5 Making Games Overseas

Publisher not just localizing titles, but also creating new games specifically for overseas markets.

CEO Akihiro Hino speaks at the 2009 installment of Level-5 Vision.

When Level-5 opened an office in California last year, many assumed the Fukuoka gaming giant was planning on using the office to sell its Japan-developed titles in overseas markets. CEO Akihiro Hino appears to have a bit more in mind than just this.

In a Nikkei Trendy interview that was conducted in February, Hino revealed that the North American studio is planning its own titles, which are also being developed in North America.

"We have five staff members at present," said Hino. "Titles that are being planned in the North American office are being developed in that region. The office staff is mostly Japanese, but we're using a style of development where we collaborate with local staff, so I believe we'll be able to make something that matches the North American market well."

Hino said to expect specific title announcements at this year's Level-5 Vision. Level-5 holds the "Vision" press conference every year before or after the Tokyo Game Show. This year's event will probably be held in August, he told Nikkei.

Perhaps as a hint, Hino told the site that he's been hearing that in the North American market, downloadable titles are rising in proportions to package titles. Asked if this means downloadable titles for consoles or for smart phones, he said both -- iPhone and other smartphones, and home game consoles.

The site also asked Hino about the possibility of Level-5 entering the Asian market and China. Hino believes these markets to be difficult. In particular, while the Chinese market is large, there are many barriers to selling things there. "I'd rather worry about creating interesting things, and in all honesty don't have a desire to tackle a market that has many difficulties. Because of this, I believe we can get results by focusing on the markets that we're looking at now, Japan, North America, Europe and so-forth."

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