2020 has been a difficult year for many companies, but it appears Level-5 Games had already taken further actions to shut down their North American offices last summer. GamesIndustry.biz reports layoffs reduced the staff to a “skeleton crew,” and now it is unclear if the studio will release its games outside of Japan again.
Level-5 released their first game, Dark Cloud, early in the PlayStation 2’s life cycle and went on to develop a string of niche titles for Sony systems, including Rogue Galaxy, Jeanne d’Arc, and White Knight Chronicles. They also developed Dragon Quest VIII and Dragon Quest IX in partnership with Square-Enix. They also enjoyed a successful partnership with Nintendo with the Professor Layton series and Yo-kai Watch, while Ni No Kuni: The White Witch won a cult following on the PlayStation 3.
The developer has been mum about upcoming releases seeing English translation — including Yo-kai Watch 4, which was released in Japan in February 2019 and announced for an English release. Their last English release was Snack World: The Dungeon Crawl – Gold this past February, a game which originally launched in April 2018.
Now sources have revealed to GamesIndustry.biz that the majority of Level-5’s staff at its Level-5 International America and Level-5 Abby offices were let go last summer. At the time, they only revealed that they had laid off two employees from their design team, and stated it was “not a large-scale restructuring.”
This leaves the future of its properties uncertain for English-speaking fans. Sources suggest there are “currently no concrete plans for any more Level-5 games to be released outside of Japan.” Whether Sony or Nintendo will step in to assist with localization remains to be seen.