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Level-5 Planning American Expansion

CEO shares details on console plans, new Tokyo office and expansion outside of Japan.

Hino (right) at the Level-5 Vision 2009 press conference.

Late yesterday, Dengeki Online passed along some comments from Level-5 CEO Akihiro Hino suggesting console developments for Wii and PS3 from the Fukuoka developer. Impress Watch has since posted a more detailed report about the company's plans both for game development and expansion.

Hino's comments came during the Tokyo installment of a presentation designed to attract new graduates for employment. Level-5 periodically holds these presentations. The Tokyo event took place on the 9th at Shibuya's C.C. Lemon Hall. It will be followed on the 24th by an installment in Fukuoka.

During a Q&A session at the tail end of the event, Hino was asked, "You have many DS titles, but do you have plans to release games for the PlayStation like before?".

Hino responded, "We're currently producing titles for PS3, Wii and so-forth. (The format, etc.) are unannounced, however (laughs). However, we develop for the DS because we determined that it was the most suitable machine to put out a new title. We've been researching and developing for consoles, but when making a product under our own brand, we must make sure that it is 'a product with a chance of success.' I believe we'll soon be able to announce a new console title."

Hino appears to be referring specifically to self-published titles, so games like Dragon Quest X (whose developer has yet to be announced) and White Knight Chronicles 2 would not be candidates for the announcement Hino mentions at the end of his comment. The promised console version of Ni no Kuni and the previously announced console Inazuma Eleven Break! could be candidates, depending on how loosely Hino is using the term "unannounced."

Outside of these hints at console development, Hino did his best to show off the merits of employment at Level-5.

4gamer has a slide showing an image of the company's Tokyo office, which opened its doors in January. The office looks like a resort hotel, Hino said, because they wanted to make people long to be game developers.

Also according to 4gamer's report, Hino revealed to the crowd that Level-5 is planning on forming a new company in America. This is being done in order to release software overseas.

Level-5's self-publishing business has thus far tied up with Nintendo for overseas publishing of the Professor Layton games. Inazuma Eleven and Level-5's upcoming self-published titles (Ni no Kuni, Danbol Senki) are currently without an announced overseas publisher.

Americans should be on the lookout for flying white knights.

As detailed in my earlier report, Level-5 had some comedians take to the stage for a brief play. Here are a few additional details based off 4gamer's report.

The play, titled "Game Creator Story," was set in a fictitious game company called Ravel 5 and followed the development of a game called Travel Hunter 2. Development chief Yanagihara (if there's a pun here, I'm not sure what it is) gets a letter from a young, sick fan. This gives the development staff driving force to complete the game and turn it into a million seller. They then get another letter from the boy. Unfortunately, 4gamer's report stops short of saying what the content of the letter is.

Game Creator Story is actually a sequel. Level-5 showed a play under the same name, but with a different setting, in the 2008 installment of this event. According to the Impress report, this year's play was powered up, with live background music.

This play could be a hint of things to come from the studio. As a closing message, Hino noted that Level-5's products like Professor Layton, Inazuma Eleven, Ni no Kuni, and Danbol Senki have or will have tie-up products in movies, anime, manga and other fields. "A major goal for Level-5 is to expand into the entertainment industry," said Hino. "The staff is working hard to make it so that we become not just a single game company, but a major entertainment brand. I don't know if it will be five or ten years later, but the staff has started to believe that we can really do this."

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