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Level-5: understanding Japan’s best-kept secret

Thursday, 6 December 2012 08:58 GMT By Dave Cook

Level-5 has created some of the most successful Japanese exports of the generation, yet its inner workings remain a mystery. Dave Cook speaks with the CEO Akihiro Hino to gain some insight.

Level-5

Based in Fukuoka, Japan. Founded by president and CEO CEO Akihiro Hino.

Creators of Professor Layton and the Curiuos Village, the Ni No Kuni series, Inazuma Eleven, Dragon Quest VIII, Dark Cloud and Rogue Galaxy.

Level-5 has a busy schedule for 2013, with key future releases Fantasy Life for Nintendo 3DS, Gundam Age and Little Battlers to look forward to.

The city of Fukuoka rests on the northern shore of Kyushu, Japan’s third-largest island. It’s said to be a place where metropolitan living, clean streets, and innovation are commonplace, and serves as one of the country’s key entertainment-producing hubs. Among the prosperity and potential sits Level-5, arguably one of the most successful game studios in Japan today.

Founded in 1998, Level-5′s notoriety in the West has grown considerably over the years, thanks to critically-acclaimed releases such as the stellar PS2 role-playing epic Dragon Quest VIII, and of course its highly successful Professor Layton series, which saw it building a strong working relationship with Nintendo.

The Layton series is itself a phenomenon – having surpassed lifetime sales of 13 million units sold in March this year – but it’s still rare to hear the company talking about its good fortune, or about the way it operates internally. Typically, Nintendo or other publishers do all the talking on its behalf.

Here in the West, developers and their publishers often wax lyrical during pre-planned and often-expensive press junkets, giving game critics an insight into how they function. Yet here is Level-5, a company that remains relatively guarded in the West, saying very little on these shores itself, but still enjoying significant success.

It’s a mystery to many, yet a growing number of its games are globally recognised. In 2010, Level-5 released a set of photos from within its lush Fukuoka HQ, giving the impression that the studio was doing rather well indeed.

Try this glittering view on for size:

This rare glimpse sparked new interest in the press concerning Level-5′s inner workings, and highlighted a studio enjoying great success across the globe. It’s a studio that has always fascinated me, yet I’ve actually known very little about it.

I was lucky enough to secure an email interview with Level-5 President and CEO Akihiro Hino in an attempt to strip back some of the mystery and ask him about how the company operates, the role of its newly-opened ‘International America’ studio, and its next releases Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, and Professor Layton Vs Ace Attorney.

It’s important to note that Hino conceptualises and produces every game that comes out of Level-5, suggesting that he has a good eye for quality. In fact, Hino holds standards in high regard, as suggested in his official Level-5 mission statement. This keen eye for quality and bankable concepts is an asset that has helped the studio become one of the ten largest game companies in Japan today.

Among his company’s many qualities, Hino attributes Level-5′s current standing to its broad reach beyond Japan’s borders, “I believe that it’s because some of our original titles such as the Professor Layton series or the Inazuma Eleven series have gained so much traction outside of Japan.

“I also believe that it’s because we put in the time and effort to make every single release a success, even if it doesn’t end up becoming a franchise. Our company started with only ten people, and we’ve grown to house close to 300 staff as well as new departments, such as PR, marketing, and sales. We’ve also expanded our stage beyond video games into anime, manga, and movies.

“Time moves extremely fast in this generation, and so it is very important to predict what audiences want now more than ever before.”

“But we still maintain the ideals we had at the beginning: We want to create five-star titles that everyone can enjoy. We’re striving to become one of the top entertainment brands in the world.”

It didn’t start this way for Hino of course, as he first got his foot in the door at now-defunct studio Riverhillsoft in the early ’90s. His first job was as lead programmer on PlayStation survival horror title Overblood, and after work had wrapped on the game’s sequel, Hino decided to branch off with a group of colleagues with a view to creating his own company.

Hino was initially unsure of his ability to form a company that could compete as an independent studio, so he turned to Sony and began talking business. Sony quickly offered him a PlayStation 2 publishing deal on the provision that he create his own studio first, and as such, Level-5 was born. In 2000 the studio began work on its first title, the critically-acclaimed RPG Dark Cloud.

It wasn’t until 2007 that Level-5 released its first self-published game: the runaway Nintendo DS hit Professor Layton and the Curious Village. While the game was published by Nintendo in the West, Hino had proved that his growing studio could stand up on its home turf among a sea of giants.

Hino agreed however that these are now volatile times, and that the gaming populace and market at large are becoming harder to predict as the industry advances, “I believe that our success can be attributed to LEVEL-5’s speed and flexibility as an organization.

“I may be at the helm, but our greatest strength as a company is our ability to adapt quickly so that we don’t miss out on opportunities, whether they are in production or advertising. Time moves extremely fast in this generation, and so it is very important to predict what audiences want now more than ever before.

“I believe we will eventually see things separate into two polar extremes,” Hino added in regard to the way software might shift moving forward, “One type of game that can be picked up and played on the go, such as those on cell phones for example, while console and PC games will be more cinematic, with higher quality imagery. Games continue to grow and develop based on these loose definitions.”

“Ni no Kuni began as a concept that for our 10th anniversary as a company, we wanted to create something that we were passionate about and that would have meaning, instead of focusing on sales.”

In an attempt to catch wider trends and to branch out into the global market, Level-5 opened its first Western site earlier this year, dubbed ‘Level-5 International America’. The studio recently released the GUILD01 collection on Nintendo 3DS, which is a four-game compilation featuring contributions from Grasshopper Manufacture founder Suda 51, creator of Dreamcast oddity Seaman Yoot Saito and Ogre Battle creator Yasumi Matsuno.

I asked Hino what Level-5 International America exists to achieve, and whether or not this expansion overseas could lead to a collaboration with Western studios further down the line, “One way they benefit us is to help us understand the culture outside of Japan. Another is to make LEVEL-5’s entertainment available to everyone in their native language. Level-5 International America is an invaluable partner to making these things happen.

“We don’t have any plans to partner with any Western studios at this time. However, these types of collaborations between two popular studios seem to create hype and set player expectations that could be compared to the feeling you get at a celebration in some ways.

“From a developer’s point of view, these opportunities are very appealing, as we get to understand and learn each other’s culture, techniques, technology, and see a new point of view on product development.”

So that’s not a ‘no’ on the Western collaboration front, but given Hino’s scant reply to questions regarding the way in which his studio operates, I got the feeling that it’s still an area that remains shrouded – whether this is deliberate or not remains up for debate.

Thankfully Hino seemed much happier to discuss the studio’s incoming releases – Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch and Professor Layton vs Ace Attorney – due for release on PS3 and 3DS next year respectively.

Working with the ‘Disney of Japan’

Hino believes that through Level-5, and his involvement with local movement the Game Factory Friendship, he can help turn the studio’s home of Fukuoka into what he calls the “Hollywood of the gaming industry.” Collaborating with Studio Ghibli – widely regarded to be the Japanese equivalent of Disney – is a solid step towards realising this lofty goal.

The partnership resulted in the development of Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch on PS3, and the Japan-only DS release Ni no Kuni: Shikkoku no Madōshi. The PS3 game has yet to launch in the West, despite releasing in Japan back in November last year.

Hino confirmed that the delay is largely down to translation, with the game’s entire script resulting in, “a million Japanese characters.” Given the size of the RPG, it’s no surprise that localisation has taken so long.

“We gave Studio Ghibli and Momose-san a general plot idea and the high concept of the world. Then we gave them complete freedom to create their own world that would realise Studio Ghibli’s style to the fullest.”

I ask Hino to go back to the beginning, and to recall how the collaboration with the artistic driving force came about, “Ni no Kuni began as a concept that for our 10th anniversary as a company, we wanted to create something that we were passionate about and that would have meaning, instead of focusing on sales.

“We discussed the idea with Studio Ghibli to give the game its unique identity, which is more important than anything else when creating a game. We had many discussions with Momose-san, the animation director from Ghibli, about each character’s concept art, the art boards, and the story boards.

“We also had the actors give us their performance advice at the motion capture studio for direction. Momose-san was overjoyed that the game ended up very close to Studio Ghibli’s hand-drawn animation style, to the point that it’s like playing a game inside a Studio Ghibli film.”

Hino’s not wrong. Ni No Kuni really does capture the essence of what makes Studio Ghiibli’s films so endearing. It follows orphaned boy Oliver who is sucked into an alternate reality and begins a long quest to find his mother Arie. it’s a turn-based RPG that feels like a solid amalgamation of Level-5′s work to date.

It has the art style of Ghibli combined with the colourful palette of Dragon Quest VIII, the charm of Professor Layton and the strategic thinking of Dark Cloud, Rogue Galaxy and other Level-5 titles. It’s a wonderful celebration of all the things Hino strives for, and its an end-product that relied heavily on mutual respect.

“We gave Studio Ghibli and Momose-san a general plot idea and the high concept of the world,” Hino explained. “Then we gave them complete freedom to create their own world that would realise Studio Ghibli’s style to the fullest. Since we gave them free reign to work exactly as they do when creating an animated film, we did not ask them to do anything outside of their comfort zone. All-in-all it went very smoothly.”

The puzzling professor

Level-5 is also working on the madcap Professor Layton Vs Ace Attorney for Nintendo 3DS, in with the studio’s flagship hero crosses paths with Capcom’s blundering lawyer Phoenix Wright. The game takes the pair back to the days of witch hunts, in which innocent women were charged with witch craft – which of course is the perfect kind of court case for Wright-flavoured escapades.

It’s a bizarre crossover, but the project’s strange nature is exactly why Hino pursued it in the first place, confident that the freedom of both franchises would yield positive results, “When the project began, I was very excited to see what kind of story would evolve when the worlds of Professor Layton and Ace Attorney were merged.

“The main characters wander into a place where knights and magic are reality, and they have to tackle a large puzzle called a Witch Trial in a world where common sense is invalid. The story unfolds in a way that’s never been done in either series, and I think that players will be excited to see how it all works.

“We have many, many elements included in the game, and it will not only be a puzzle-solving game, but true entertainment.”

“It’s interesting how at first, having the two characters and their distinctive styles in the same game seems very fresh and unique, but as you progress through the game, the two characters and their worlds start to collide and this fusion starts to feel like it was normal all along.”

Beyond Level-5′s crossover, the core Layton series is approaching its final chapter. The game’s working title is Professor Layton and the Azran Legacies, and it’s also in development for 3DS. Hino teases that this will be a vast, globe-spanning outing for the professor, and one that the studio has gone to great lengths to achieve.

Hino explained, “We are preparing some grand mechanics that are fit for such an end. I think the story will also end up being the best in the series as the truth behind Professor Layton and all the characters who have become regulars in the series is revealed.

“This will be an adventure that traverses the entire world, a first in the series, allowing the player to move around the world map freely. And of course, the sheer volume of puzzles will be greater than ever before. We have many, many elements included in the game, and it will not only be a puzzle-solving game, but true entertainment.”

“When establishing LEVEL-5, I was set on creating games that would bring the children of today the same excitement I felt as a child. This single desire is what inspired us to start this company.”

Will the series continue on with a new lead or off-shoot? Hino isn’t entirely down on the idea, “I don’t know for sure. We haven’t planned anything yet, but I feel that there are many great possibilities in the style of Professor Layton, so we many end up creating something similar to it or in the same vein.”

While Layton’s adventures are coming to a close, his mark on the industry – in terms of sales, critical reaction and the educational nature of its puzzles – have been felt far and wide. Looking back, Hino is grateful for the series’ success, and for the success is has brought to Level-5′s door.

“Yes. It has been deeply rewarding,” he admitted, “being that Professor Layton was the first title we published ourselves here in Japan. Of course, I always hoped that it would be accepted in the West, but I never expected it to become this popular. It’s the greatest feeling to know that Professor Layton is so well loved in the United Kingdom, because the series is set in England and the character is modelled as a true English Gentlemen.”

Level-5 is an entity that has enjoyed great success so far, penetrating Western markets with a great deal of success, and enjoying the kind of sales that should ensure its future for many generations to come. It’s refreshing that Hino has never lost site of what makes games special along the way.

Going back to Hino’s official company statement one last time, there is a particular line that sets out his vision for Level-5, and it paints a noble, humble view on why his studio makes games in the first place.

“When establishing Level-5, I was set on creating games that would bring the children of today the same excitement I felt as a child. This single desire is what inspired us to start this company.”

Judging by the playful, entertaining nature of Level-5′s games, and millions of titles it has managed to sell worldwide, I’d say Hino has stayed the course so far. Wouldn’t you agree?

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9 Comments

  1. matirishhh

    Amazing studio. Very good interview Dave. You could also attach the latest behind the scenes video from Ni-no Kuni.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. Dave Cook

    @1 funnily enough I wasn’t aware of the clip until this morning, thanks to the way my shift works. But good point, I should attach it :)

    Thanks for the feedback!

    #2 2 years ago
  3. Ireland Michael

    Level 5 is one of the few remaining great examples in Japan for the quintessential eastern gaming experience.

    Although White Knight Chronicles was honestly utter garbage, almost everything else this studio has released has been absolutely stellar, and they are the benchmark for JRPGs in general. Dragon Quest VIII is still one of the greatest JRPGs ever made.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. Dave Cook

    @3 “Dragon Quest VIII is still one of the greatest JRPGs ever made.”

    Absolutely :)

    #4 2 years ago
  5. Ireland Michael

    It was the first time I evet played an RPG and truly, genuinely felt like I was in a huge world of immense scope and size. And thats saying a lot, considering I’m an Ultima fan.

    It completely redefined the genre and set incredibly high new standards for the genre in general. Even to this day, very few other video games have been able to come even close to matching its sense of scale and immersion.

    It doesn’t surprise me that Hino has such a strong hand in the involvement of every game the company produces. Level 5 is one of the very few companies where I can say that a demand for excellence and quality isn’t just PR buzztalk, but a genuine mindset of the studio. I hope these guys keep going for a long time to come – Square Enix could learn a thing or two from them right now, to be honest.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. Dragon246

    Great studio, although they aren’t doing very hot in japan right now, with some big releases not living up in sales. Hope they jump back though.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. KrazyKraut

    Some weeks ago I played Overblood 2 on PSX and read Akihiro Hino in the opening credits…sounded familiar and BAM I checked and knew where I heared it. Thx for the interview.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. Dave Cook

    @7 small world :) No worries, cheers for reading.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. kwando1313

    Hmm… Was wondering about this part here: “Professor Layton vs Ace Attorney – due for release on PS3 and 3DS next year respectively.” Can we take that as confirmation that Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney will be localized for next year?

    #9 2 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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  • Petroglyph’s Victory resurfaces with Korean co-developer

    End of Nations, Mytheon and Grey Goo developer Petroglyph Games seems to have salvaged a stalled project. Victory popped up back in early 2013 after Trion Worlds took End of Nations in-house. Petroglyph’s attempt to crowdfund the unusual strategy title ended in iniquity, but it vowed to do whatever it could to bring the game […]

  • Far Cry 4 Hurk Deluxe DLC now available

    Far Cry 4′s latest DLC pack adds new story missions and a pile of new weapons. Far Cry 4: Hurk Deluxe is now available on PC and Xbox platforms, and is rolling out to the PSN in line with local network updates. The pack bundles five story missions, including Yak Farm, Blood Ruby and Hurk’s […]

  • Yes, Resident Evil: Revelations 2 has microtransactions

    Resident Evil: Revelations 2 has microtransactions, but thankfully they’re not as outrageous as initial reports suggested. The subject of Resident Evil: Revelations 2′s microtransactions arose earlier today with reports filtering out of a European press event that you’ll be able to pay to keep playing after your character dies. The ramifications of this are pretty […]

  • Play mini-games to unlock Magicka 2 content

    Magicka 2 publisher Paradox Interactive has invited fans to earn in-game rewards by playing other games. The Magicka website will host various mini-games in the build up to Magicka 2′s launch later this year on PC and PS4. Playing these games controbutes to a community score total which will eventually unlock in-game content as well […]

  • Deactivated Far Cry 4 keys were purchased through Origin

    Far Cry 4 owners who found their games deactivated without warning may be surprised to learn where they came from. Many copies of Far Cry 4 purchased through third-party re-sellers have been deactivated without notice. Although resellers affected by the deactivations argued that they had made authorised purchases, Ubisoft has denied this. The publisher told […]

  • Will Assassin’s Creed visit Japan in 2016?

    The next Assassin’s Creed game after Victory may finally bring ninja and assassins together. An Assassin’s Creed fan has spotted what certainly looks like a heavy hint that the next game after Victory will be set in Japan. Ubisoft forums member Cornik22 was looking through the Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag official art book when […]

  • Resident Evil HD modder aims to restore original, terrible voice acting

    Resident Evil and its early sequels are justifiably famous for their simply dire voice acting. Some Resident Evil fans feel they just can’t enjoy the experience of exploring Umbrella facilities if someone isn’t talking at them with absolutely no regard for pacing, content or tone. As a result, modder Bunny has stepped up to the […]

  • Record iPhone sales drive Apple to revenue spike

    The iPhone is still going strong – in fact, it’s selling better than ever. Apple has announced its financial results for the quarter ending December 27 2014, exceeding expectations with a 29.5% increase in revenues to $74.6 billion. This was a new record for the company. One of the key factors in this spike is […]

  • HoloLens has “mind-blowing” potential for games, says Microsoft CEO

    Microsoft’s VR wearable HoloLens is going to be great for games, according to CEO Satya Nadella. Speaking to investors, Nadella made Microsoft’s entertainment plans for the device explicit. “It’s also getting clearer how the games people love today will evolve to mind-blowing experiences in the future when designed for the mixed reality that Windows 10 […]

  • EA Q3: Battlefield 5 still on for holiday 2016, PGA Tour 15 spring release confirmed

    EA announced its financial results for its Q3 fiscal year 2015 quarter, ended December 31, 2014, noting total net revenue $1.13 billion in total net revenue compared to $808 million year-over-year. For the nine months ending December 31, total net revenue came in at $3.3 billion. Net revenues were up 39% and net income came […]

  • Players logged 113M single-player hours in Dragon Age: Inquisition, other EA games stats

    Ahead of its Q3 2015 earnings release, Electronic Arts has released a game infographic showing some interesting stats compiled through gameplay from October – December 2014. For FIFA 15, over 3.3 billion goals were made; 73 million knockouts occurred in EA SPORTS UFC; over 10 million families were created in The Sims 4; 113 million […]

  • Hyrule Warriors has shipped 1 million units worldwide

    Koei Tecmo has announced shipments of its Wii U hack and slash action title, Hyrule Warriors, has shipped one million units worldwide. The Omega Force-developed title was released in Japan on August 14 and in the west on September 26. Two packs of DLC for the game are slated for February alongside the version 1.5.0 […]

  • Xbox Games Store discounts Never Alone, Dragon Age: Inquisition, more

    This week’s deals available through the Xbox Games Store will be valid until February 2 with titles such as Battlefield 4, Dragon Age Inquisition, Never Alone, and Titanfall discounted. Discounted titles with an asterisk are for Xbox Live Gold members only. Xbox One Just Dance 2015* – 40% Another World* – 50% Never Alone* – […]

  • Say hello to Mortal Kombat X’s latest character: Reptile

    As promised, one of two character reveals this week for Mortal Kombat X has occurred: it’s the acid-spitting Reptile. Nice! Watch the video above. Mortal Kombat X is slated for release on April 14 and will be available on PC, PS3, PS4,Bxo 360 and Xbox One. Thanks, MrTGJelly (Trent).

  • Twisted fairy tale Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries hits Steam Early Access

    Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries, the successful Kickstarter from GRIN Studios, has launched on Steam Early Access. The PC title is described as a “cinematic fable featuring a vengeful Red Riding Hood,” who armed with an axe sets out on a quest to avenge the murder of her parents. Gameplay features action-platforming, combo-based hack ‘n […]

  • Dead or Alive 5: Last Round delayed to late March on Steam

    Koei Tecmo has announced it is delaying the PC release of Dead or Alive 5: Last Round to March. According to an updated listing on Steam (thanks, AGB), the fighter was delayed “in order to provide you with the best experience possible.” To apologize for the delay, Team Ninja will offer the Halloween 2013 Set, […]

  • Dragon’s Dogma Online will be F2P “no plans” for western release

    Dragon’s Dogma Online will be a free-to-play title for PC, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3. Set for release this year, Dragon’s Dogma Online has a lobby which will support up to 100 players, is open-world, and the executive producer is Hiroyuki Kobayashi. Players can form groups with up to four players or pawns while raids […]

  • Watch this release video for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel DLC Lady Hammerlock

    The Lady Hammerlock DLC for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel releases today on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and coinciding with the release is the launch trailer. In the Lady Hammerlock DLC, players are introduced and will be able to step into the shoes of Sir Hammerlock’s sister, Lady Aurelia the Baroness. The DLC will run […]

  • Free DLC for Tales of Zestiria takes place after main storyline

    Free DLC will be released in Japan for Tales of Zestiria, and while Bandai Namco has yet to state whether it will be released westward with the core game this summer, it’s an interesting slice of content. According to information from Jump posted by Siliconera, the DLC Alisha After Episode: What Is Reflected In The […]

  • This video of a Paris flat looks the real deal, but it’s all Unreal Engine 4

    I’m not entirely sure when, or how, this fella managed to sneak into my secret flat in Paris and film it, but since it’s out there I may as well share it with you. All joking aside, this video is rather amazing. It provides a virtual tour of a flat located in Paris; however, it’s […]

  • The Witness passes key development milestone, still no release date

    The Witness has seemingly come back from the dead. Creator Jonathan Blow has posted an update on the game’s development. Surely you still remember The Witness? Jonathan Blow’s follow-up to Braid, which was shown during the PlayStation 4 reveal event all the way back in February 2013? Well, today we got our first development update […]

  • You can now take selfies in World of Warcraft

    The latest patch to World of Warcraft has added a S.E.L.F.I.E. Camera to the game. And it does exactly what it sounds like it does. Patch 6.1 is currently being deployed to World of Warcraft’s Public Test Realms (PTR). There’s a massive list of patch notes, but the most pressing one, other than Twitter integration, […]

  • Hellblade: early gameplay and prototype footage revealed

    The latest developer diary for Hellblade is here with a look at some early gameplay prototypes and a peek at some polished areas. Hellblade developer Ninja Theory has revealed even more details of how game development works behind the scenes. The eighth part of this ongoing diary shows early gameplay footage along with some intriguing […]

  • Resident Evil Revelations 2: Raid mode offline-only on launch, more details

    Capcom has revealed a tonne of new details about Raid mode in Resident Evil: Revelations 2. Capcom has confirmed that Raid mode will launch with the first episode of Revelations 2 in February. You will be playing it offline only though, either solo or in split-screen co-op. As for the online portion, Capcom promised it […]

  • Watch the first 20 minutes of Life is Strange

    The first 20 minutes of Life is Strange have been posted online for anyone to watch. The opening 20 minutes of Life is Strange set the stage for what kind of game it is. The kind that you’ll probably like if you’re a fan of Telltale games. The video is courtesy of consolewarsofficial and you […]

  • Don’t blame Ubisoft for cancelling keys – blame the culture of overpriced games

    Publishers need to drop PC games prices in order to stem the flourishing grey market, says Matt Martin. “How are you going to sell me Far Cry 4 for £45 when I can pick up Far Cry, Far Cry 2, Far Cry 3, Far Cry: Blood Dragon and extra DLC for just £30?” Some players […]

  • Dragon’s Dogma Online is real, full reveal in this week’s Famitsu

    What’s been heavily-rumoured to be the next instalment in the Dragon’s Dogma franchise, Dragon’s Dogma Online, will be fully revealed this week. According to a recent post by Famitsu, the magazine’s upcoming weekly issue, which releases January 29, will contain a massive feature on Dragon’s Dogma Online. The magazine will dedicate 18 pages to all […]

  • Valve responds to recent Counter-Strike match-fixing scandal, bans offenders

    Valve has investigated the recent case of match-fixing involving two teams in the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive professional scene and decided to ban those involved from future tournaments. Recent allegations involving match-fixing between iBUYPOWER and NetcodeGuides.com – two of the professional teams that played in Cevo Season 5 – came to light. Valve has took notice […]

  • Having issues playing Grim Fandango Remastered on PS4? Sony is offering help

    Sony has offered a few steps to help those who are having issues with their pre-loaded PS4 installs of Grim Fandango Remastered. A few reports have started to appear online from users who’ve pre-ordered and pre-loaded Grim Fandango Remastered on their PS4 consoles. Sony has since posted a support thread on the official forums, to […]

  • Get Dragon Age: Inquisition for $36 and more in EA’s Xbox One sale

    Many EA digital games are being offered at considerable discounts on Xbox One right now. The latest EA sale is pretty good, offering sales on many AAA titles. It’s only available on Xbox One, with extra savings for Xbox Live Gold subscribers. The list below covers prices for Gold Subscribers. Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare […]

  • Grim Fandango Remastered reviews round-up, all the scores

    Grim Fandango Remastered is a classic game brought into the new generation, so it’s time for everyone to know how great it is. The reviews for Grim Fandango Remastered have started popping up and as per usual, we’ve collected a few of them below. Grim Fandango Remastered is, as the name suggests, a remastered version […]

  • The Witcher 3: latest build is 1080p on PS4, 900p on Xbox One

    The recent preview build of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was running at full-HD resolution on PlayStation 4 and 900p on Xbox One. German website Gamestar attended the recent preview event for The Witcher 3 and examined the three versions that were on offer, PC, PS4 and Xbox One. Here’s the quote, courtesy of Google […]

  • Joystiq is likely to close – rumour

    AOL is rumoured to be closing its video game site, Joystiq. Re/code is reporting that AOL is likely to close its video game site Joystiq soon, according to “various sources.” The move is part of a company-wide restructuring that will affect Joystiq and other “under-performing content properties.” Joystiq is one of the most renowned sites […]

  • The Last of Us movie will be “pretty faithful” to the game

    The Last of Us will bring many of the same elements to the big screen as the small one, according to writer Neil Druckmann. Although The Last of Us will have to be adapted in various ways to make the transition from lengthy interactive adventure to cinema-friendly story arc, Druckmann is hoping to keep the […]

  • Microsoft is fixing Xbox One’s slow controllers

    Xbox One control pads have many charms, but quick start up is not one of them. The Xbox One controller currently takes up to five seconds to connect to your console after switching on, which is an eternity for someone with an attention span as short as mine. Luckily, Microsoft is working to fix this […]

  • Lucius 2 releases on Friday the 13th (of course)

    Lucius 2 has a really fitting release date. Lucius developer Shiver Games has produced a follow-up to the dark tale of an evil child, and it’s coming your way on February 13 – which just so happens to be a Friday. Lucius 2: The Prophecy will set you back $20, and release through Steam. As […]

  • Saints Row 4: Re-Elected PS4 recalled in Australia, incorrect content to blame

    Saints Row 4: Re-Elected has been recalled in Australia due to a mysterious manufacturing issue. An Australian PR representative said that the retail PS4 version of Saints Row 4: Re-Elected has “a serious manufacturing issue” and has been recalled nation-wide. Here’s what we were told (emphasis mine): “A manufacturing issue has caused an incorrectly classified […]

  • The Whispered World follow up now coming to PS4, too

    Deadalic’s gorgeous-looking adventure Silence has been confirmed for a fourth platform. Originally announced for Mac and PC with an Xbox One port one revealed at a later date, Silence is now on its way to PS4 as well. All versions are due later this year. Silence is Deadalic’s first multi-platform release and in my mind […]

  • Mythbusters to tackle DOOM this weekend

    DOOM is the subject of the next episode of Mythbusters. Having been airing for over ten years now, Mythbusters has pretty much run out of myths to bust, which is why we find ourselves in 2015 with an episode dedicating to answering the question “could DOOM be real?” Bethesda has rveealed that the January 31 […]

  • Destiny hosting a Bungie Bounty – go go go

    Destiny players have a chance to take down Bungie employees in return for one of the most exclusive vanity items in the game. Destiny’s Bungie Bounties usually feature guests from the community, and today’s event is no exception. Joining Bungie community manager David “Deej” Dague are several members of Bungie.org, the developer’s most staunch fan […]

  • Elite: Dangerous developer issues lay-offs

    Elite: Dangerous team Frontier Developments has had to let staff go. At least 15 staff have been laid off from the developer’s Halifax studio. According to an investor update, this decision will allow Frontier to focus its efforts at its primary studio in Cambridge, England. “With its business emphasis now on two major self-published franchises, […]

  • Dragon Age: Inquisition tavern songs free for a limited time

    Dragon Age: Inquisition tunes can be yours for the bargain price of zero cashmoney. The tavern songs from Dragon Age: Inquisition will be made available for purchase from various digital distributors sometime after February 9. Until then, though, you can have them for free – including their sheet music. To take advantage of this generous […]

  • Even the Five Nights at Freddy’s 3 teaser is frightening

    Five Nights at Freddy’s 3 is probably going to be just as tense and uncomfortable as its two prequels. This teaser for Five Nights at Freddy’s 3 is the first we’ve heard of the project since creator Scott Cawthon confirmed it is in the works. The third entry in the series is now up on […]

  • 6.6 million Xbox consoles shipped last quarter

    Xbox One and Xbox 360 console sales were strong last quarter, although Microsoft isn’t talking hard numbers yet. Microsoft shipped 6.6 million Xbox 360 and Xbox One consoles to retailers in the quarter ending December 31, the company revealed in its latest financial briefing. This figure wasn’t broken down by platform, and Microsoft didn’t supply […]

  • Homeworld Remastered Collection: five minutes of b-roll footage

    We may not have proper, uncut gameplay footage of the Homeworld Remastered Collection, but we have the next best thing. Homeworld Remastered Collection was confirmed to release on February 25. Gearbox has only showed a trailer, but no extended gameplay demos. There was however a b-roll video showing at PAX South, and we’ve embedded it […]

  • Grim Fandango Remastered looks sharp in these new screens

    Grim Fandango will come back from the dead with the Remastered edition, and it’s looking great. Grim Fandango Remastered has a few new screens available to prove that even old games can look stunning with the right remaster, especially ones with an already well-defined art style. Have a look at them below and get excited. […]

  • Battlefield Hardline: beta weapons, maps, modes, progression system and more

    The Battlefield Hardline beta will include a third new map and a new game mode, on top of what’s already announced. You may remember last week DICE started a community mission for all Battlefield 4 players. The goal was to reach 2 billion points playing Rush mode. That goal has been achieved and as a […]

  • Dying Light launch trailer is one last display of its forte

    The launch trailer for Dying Light is here one day ahead of the game’s release. Techland and Warner Bros. have put out the launch trailer for Dying Light. The trailer is a short reminder of the game’s main selling points: free-running, weapon crafting, drop-kicking zombies. Reviews should start to come out tomorrow for the game […]

  • Watch The Witcher 3 developers stream new gameplay on Twitch

    The Witcher 3 developer CD Projekt RED is hosting a Twitch live-stream to show off brand new gameplay footage and answer some fan questions. The live-stream will start at 7:00pm GMT, 2:00pm EST, 11:00am PST. It will show off plenty of new footage, some of which was shown only to the press so far. The […]

  • Finally, some screens for Final Fantasy 15

    Patience is a virtue and we finally have our hands on a few gameplay screens from Final Fantasy 15. There’s not a lot of them, but they show the impressive lighting and they’re all gameplay as far as I can tell, so take a look. There is no release date for Final Fantasy 15 as […]

  • Here’s 15 minutes of gameplay from The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt in 1080p

    The Witcher 3 has a new direct-feed, 1080p video available that’s 100% gameplay. Would you like some gameplay of The Witcher 3 in beautiful 1080p? Why, of course you would! The gameplay below shows combat, conversations, travelling. In short, it’s a small sample of everything the game will offer. If you’re looking to learn much […]

  • Two Mortal Kombat X characters to be revealed this week

    Mortal Kombat X will get not one, but two character reveals this week. Mortal Kombat creator Ed Boon has been at again on Twitter, teasing all kinds of reveals over the past few days. Firstly, Boon tweeted this image, which at first glance appears to show a character holding a bow. However, further examination by […]

  • Planetside 2 successfully claims the Guinness World Record for biggest FPS battle

    The Planetside 2 community has successfully organised an online battle involving over 1000 players, breaking the previous Guinness World Record. The event, which was organised by Planetside Battles was pitched to the community last week. 1,158 players have answered the call, smashing the record for “Most Players Online in an FPS Battle.” The previous 999 […]

  • Microsoft aiming for Xbox One-to-PC streaming to function while you watch TV

    Streaming Xbox One games to PC while you watch TV on the console through the HDMI pass-through is something Microsoft is hoping to achieve when the service launches with Windows 10. Microsoft’s Phil Spencer has been on Twitter answering fan questions following last week’s Windows 10 event. One interesting bit that came out of those […]

  • Everything we know about The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

    The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is sure to be one of the biggest RPGs of the year, due for release in May on PC, Xbox One and PS4. Delayed since its target release of 2015, CD Projekt Red’s latest game takes the series to a true open world environment, and charges the player with tracking […]