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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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    Steven Spielberg will direct the film adaption of the sci-fi, virtual world, video game themed novel Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Warner Bros. bought the rights to the film in June 2010 and hired screenwriter Zak Penn to rewrite the previous draft written by Eric Eason, according to Deadline. The book takes place in […]

  • Bloodborne players with PS4 headsets shouldn’t forget about the custom audio

    Here’s a friendly reminder for Bloodborne players with PS4 headsets: be sure to download the Headset Companion App from the PlayStation store if you haven’t already. As previously reported, the game supports a custom Bloodborne audio mode which can be uploaded. It contains custom audio created by developers specifically tuned to enhance the audio. This […]

  • EA explains why FIFA Ultimate Team transfer prices are now platform specific

    EA has posted a blog entry explaining its FIFA Ultimate Team transfer market price ranges which now include platform-specific pricing in order to best the coin sellers. EA said it has implemented the changes to FUT over the last several weeks because it should be “fair and fun for every player,” ultimately coming to the […]

  • Game of Thrones: Episode 3 – The Sword in the Darkness now available

    In case you forgot, Game of Thrones: Episode 3 – The Sword in the Darkness was released today. It is available on Mac, PC, PlayStation 3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. The third episode releases on iOS devices and Android tomorrow, March 26. The Sword in the Darkness finds Asher Forrester heading to Mereen […]

  • Bloodborne players are already documenting their crazy antics

    Bloodborne has been available for almost two days now in North America, and already players are posting interesting clips and character customization choices for the game. Below are interesting takes on creating a character and videos of a frustrating death and another full of blood coming from a very painful place – monster or not. […]

  • FIFA Ultimate Team celebrates sixth year in existence with giveaways

    FIFA Ultimate Team is celebrating its sixth year in existence with special events running from today until March 29. According to EA, every FUT fan will be handed one free pack every day, and those who play at least one match in the FUT Birthday Cup will have a chance to win rare “tradable In-Forms” […]

  • Halo Online is a F2P PC game in development exclusively for Russia – video

    Halo Online is a free-to-play game which will launch this spring in Russia, and is in development with Saber Interactive. According the reveal event attended by IGN Russia, the game was designed to run well on lower-end PCs and runs on a modified Halo 3 engine. The game is set on a secret UNSC space […]

  • SteamWorld Dig Xbox One release expected in late May

    SteamWorld Dig is coming to Xbox One, developer Image & Form has announced. A firm release date hasn’t been announced, but the studio expects the title to arrive on the system in late May. “We’re preparing quite an elaborate Easter egg for the Xbox One version – a gaming thing that we really wanted to […]

  • SMITE celebrating first anniversary with a sale on skins, Ultimate God Pack

    Hi-Rez Studios is celebrating the first anniversary of SMITE with a sale. From today through Friday, March 27, the Ultimate God Pack, which includes all current and future Gods, will run you $19.99. Alll individual pre-launch skins are 50% off, and all Gem Packs will award bonus gems. In addition, from March 27-29, all SMITE […]

  • Borderlands 2 has sold around 12 million copies, says Gearbox

    Speaking with Microsoft’s Major Nelson in his podcast, Gearbox Software boss Randy Pitchford stated Borderlands 2 has sold somewhere around the 12 million mark. As of August 2014, it was announced by Take-Two in its financial report the 2012 game had sold-in 10 million units. Pitchford noted in the podcast he learned of the figures […]

  • Broken Age releasing on PS4 and Vita same day as Act 2 on PC

    Double Fine Productions has announced it will release Broken Age on the PlayStation Store next month. Act 2 will also be released on PC. The full Broken Age adventure will release on PlayStation 4 and Vita on April 28 in North America and April 29 in Europe. It features cross-buy and cross-save. Broken Age Act […]

  • Star Citizen earned another $1 million within two weeks – total hits $76 million

    Star Citizen continues its funding streak with backers pumping another $1 million into the game’s development in the last two weeks. The total earned for the space sim has now reached $76 million ($76,015,532 to be exact) with 851,395 backers contributing to the staggering figure. Star Citizen’s latest update was version 1.1 which included two […]

  • Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, Resident Evil Revelations 2 and Battlefield: Hardline top Media Create charts

    Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, Resident Evil Revelations 2 and Battlefield: Hardline were the big ticket debuts during the March 16-2 period in Japan, with each game claiming the top three slots on the Media Create charts, respectively. Final Fantasy Type-0 HD moved 92,094 on PlayStation 4, while Resident Evil Revelations 2 moved 73,373 units on […]

  • You can now learn English or Spanish on Xbox One with the Rosetta App

    Want to learn English or Spanish? Rosetta Stone has an App for that on Xbox One. According to the language teaching firm, Rosetta Stone’s Discover Languages, the new application teaches English and Spanish by way of immersive simulation. Users will virtually travel to learn vocabulary and grammar “necessary for real-world interactions.” Here’s how it works: […]

  • PayDay 2 and PayDay: The Heist have sold over 9 million units combined

    The PayDay franchise is a lucrative IP for Starbreeze and Overkill, as both games combined have sold over 9 million copies as of November 2014. The company has also sold over 8 million paid DLC packages since PayDay 2 was released in 2013 (via NeoGAF). In its Q2 half year report issued in February, net […]

  • Nintendo wants to “surprise” customers with NX, not expand upon existing hardware

    Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has firm wants to “surprise” players with its new NX system. Speaking in an interview with Nikkei, translated by Kotaku, Iwata wouldn’t go into details on the new system, but stated expanding on a current gaming system would be “dull.” “In the past few years, the idea of what [encompasses] a […]

  • Kojima Station show suspended

    In another episode in the the ongoing kerfuffle between Hideo Kojima and Konami, the publisher has suspended the Kojima Station web show. Recent tweets from the newly created Japanese Metal Gear Solid account confirm that Kojima Station will not be broadcast tomorrow, but would not provide a date for the next episode. The Tweets were […]

  • Watch Battle Royale for free this weekend on Xbox Live

    Square Enix is celebrating the launch of Final Fantasy Type-0 HD by offering Xbox Live members in the UK a free rental of Battle Royale. Starting Saturday, March 28 and through Sunday, March 29, Xbox Live members in the UK will be able to rent Battle Royale through the Xbox Video Store, for free. The […]

  • Bloodborne journal, part 1: managing anxiety on the path to the Cleric Beast

    Bloodborne is both like and unlike the Souls games. Brenna descends into Yharnam with reluctance and trepidation. Need help succeeding in Bloodborne? You need our Bloodborne walkthrough and boss guide. Bloodborne isn’t Demon’s Souls or Dark Souls. Let’s get that out of the way right off. I enjoyed both Dark Souls games, but it was […]

  • PS Store Easter sale discounts MGS: Ground Zeroes, Far Cry 4, more

    The Easter Sale is live on the EU PS Store, with Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes for less than £10, FIFA 15 Deluxe Edition for £30 and other savings. Some of the PlayStation 3, PS4 and Vita discounts are valid through April 8, other through April 15. PlayStation Plus members can also take an […]

  • Bloodborne video: how to unlock the first shortcut in Old Yharnam

    Here’s a video for Bloodborne players showing a quick way to unlock the first shortcut in Old Yharnam. It also provides a look at things you may have missed in Central Yharnam and The Sewers, courtesy of VaatiVidya. Don’t forget, we have guides posted for the game with more updates coming soon. Bloodborne released in […]

  • Bloodborne issue prevents summons at Vicar Amelia fight

    A Bloodborne bug has prevented players calling on help to take on one of the nasty early bosses. Bloodborne bosses are significantly easier to take down in co-op. Unfortunately, at least one of them is proving difficult to find help for – and not just because not many players have obtained the Small Resonant Bell […]

  • Mass Effect 3 on sale on EU PSN, but not free

    Mass Effect 3 is discounted on the European PSN, but it’s not free. Update 2: The option to add to cart now lets you choose between the free trial or full version. The full version is on sale for £6.49 or £5.84 for PlayStation Plus members. The free trial is of course is still available, […]

  • Elite: Dangerous Race to Elite winners announced, one player makes £10,000

    The winners of Elite: Dangerous’ Race To Elite competition have been announced, with one player receiving the grand prize of £10,000. Back when Elite: Dangerous launched, developer Frontier announced a competition that would award players to first reach Elite rank in trading, exploration, or combat, a prize of £1,000 each. The grand prize – £10,000 […]

  • GTA 5 Online Heists guide: How to make the most money with Special Bonuses and Elite Challenges

    You’re not hitting heists for the good of your health. Here’s how to max cash rewards. Money. GTA Online players love it. Greenbacks are the core of the entire experience, allowing you to buy the best weapons, vehicles and stupid haircuts. Heists, as promised, gives more opportunities than ever to earn serious cash, but once […]

  • PlayStation 4 firmware update 2.50 coming tomorrow

    PlayStation 4 firmware 2.50, codenamed Yukimura, is due for release tomorrow, March 26. Firmware update 2.50 for PlayStation 4 will be launching tomorrow, March 26, Sony has announced. Codenamed Yukimura, the system update is promised to bring suspend/resume feature, trophy sync improvements, accessibility options, and much more. 2.50 has been in beta testing a while […]

  • GTA 5 Online Heists guide: adversary modes, daily objectives, free roam challenges and more

    Heists aren’t the only addition in GTA Online’s latest DLC – there’s a lot of content that can earn you big RP and cash payouts. GTA 5 Online Heists guide: adversary modes, daily objectives, free roam challenges While heists are the talking point and big payoff after more than a year of waiting, there’s a […]

  • Battlefield Hardline: what’s the best Police sniper rifle?

    What’s the best bolt-action, Police sniper rifle for the Professional class in Battlefield Hardline? Let us help you answer that question. As you’re probably aware, Battlefield Hardline weapons are class specific and faction specific. This makes deciding on a good weapon and loadout much harder than it was in Battlefield 4. Which is where Westie […]

  • Evolve 1.3 patch nerfs Wraith, adjusts Kraken

    Evolve is receiving a new patch that aims to put an end to the Wraith’s dominance. Evolve developer Turtle Rock outlined a few of the changes coming in patch 1.3. The patch brings balance changes to the monsters – mainly the Wraith – as well as other various changes to Hunters’ tools based on player […]

  • Bloodborne: watch the opening 40 minutes

    The opening minutes of Bloodborne really do set the stage for what’s to come. They’ll also help you decide if this game is for you. Arekkz Gaming has captured the first 40 minutes of Bloodborne. Complete with the opening cutscene, and the first few obstacles you’ll face. The video is commentary free, so wear headphones […]

  • YouTube will relaunch livestreaming service with focus on eSports and gaming – report

    According to industry sources, Google is preparing to relaunch YouTube’s livestreaming service with a focus on eSports and gaming. According to anonymous sources speaking to TheDailyDot, Google is planning to bring back YouTube’s livestreaming service. The company is said to have started recruiting around 50 engineers with experience in the field, “a pretty big statement […]

  • I think I’m too old for Final Fantasy 15

    Final Fantasy 15 was nine years in the making – and counting. Are we the same people we were in 2006? Final Fantasy 15: Episode Duscae A demo available for PS4 and Xbox One. Offers a couple of hours of gameplay. More if you jump over the borders. Bundled with Final Fantasy 15 Type-0 and […]

  • New multiplayer mode for Splatoon announced

    Nintendo has sent over three screenshots for Splatoon along with information on the Wii U another of the title’s multiplayer modes. Called Ranked Battle, it keeps track of each player’s online ranking. Splat Zones is one of the additional ways to play online in this mode. It differs from Turf War, which is the main […]

  • 2015 WoW Arena World Championship has a $250,000 prize pool

    Blizzard has announced the WoW Arena World Championship will culminate at BlizzCon 2015. World of Warcraft 3v3 Arena teams from around the globe will compete for spot at the 2015 WoW Arena World Championship and for a share in the $250,000 prize pool. Online qualifiers will be held for North America, Southeast Asia, Australia, New […]

  • The Crew two-hour demo now available in US, tomorrow in the UK

    Ubisoft has announced a free trial of its driving MMO The Crew will be available tomorrow, March 25 in the UK. It’s live today in North America. For current players, the Vintage Car Pack and Vintage Live Update, including a new PvP mode, are now available. The Vintage Car Pack included the Chevrolet Corvette C2 […]

  • Minecraft Mass Effect Mash-Up and Pattern Texture Pack out from today

    A Mass Effect Mash-up pack and the Pattern Texture Pack will release on PlayStation 3, PS4 and Vita today in North America and tomorrow in Europe. The Pattern Texture Pack is also available for Xbox consoles today. The Mass Effect Mash-Up pack contains the Mars Facility from Mass Effect 3 plus textures and craftable items […]

  • The Talos Principle expansion pack Road to Gehenna announced

    An expansion for The Talos Principle has been announced titled Road to Gehenna. The expansion follows the narrative of Uriel, Elohim’s messenger, as he explores a “strange, hidden part of the simulation” on a mission of “mercy and redemption.” Uriel is attempting to free the souls of the damned “at all costs.” Road to Gehenna […]

  • Twitch Plays Pokemon finally catches ‘em all – even the rare Mewtwo

    Twitch Plays Pokemon players have captured all 151 original Pokemon which were included in a modified version of Pokemon Red, and this includes the rare Mewtwo. It took 39 days for Twitch players to catch ‘em all. Have a look at the impressive feat for yourself below. Thanks, Polygon.

  • GameStop will have limited units of Majora’s Mask New 3DS XL back in stock

    Those who missed out on the Limited Edition Majora’s Mask New 3DS XL will have another opportunity to purchase it outside of eBay. Tomorrow only, GameStop stores in the United States will have four units in stock, according to and internal memo sent to Kotaku. This is every store in the country, and again, only […]

  • Second phase of Fortnite closed Alpha launches today

    Fortnite’s second closed Alpha test will go live this afternoon, according to the official website. Those currently participating will have until April 14 to test the online aspects for 12 hours per day (noon -12am EDT). All progress from the previous Alpha test will be wiped, and other changes are listed in the patch notes. […]

  • Dragon Age: Inquisition: Jaws of Hakkon out now on PC, Xbox One

    As promised yesterday, the single-player DLC for Dragon Age: Inquisition, Jaws of Hakkon, is now available on PC and Xbox One. It will run you or £11.99 or your regional equivalent. The new content expands the land of Thedas with mountainous regions and forests, and it is full of “vicious enemies.” Players will also be […]

  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare trailer shows Ascendance gameplay

    Activision has released a new gamepay trailer for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare to support the Ascendance DLC which releases next week. Ascendance, will release first on Xbox consoles March 31 and includes the next chapter of the Exo Zombies Saga, Infected, along with four new multiplayer maps: Perplex, Site 244, Climate and Chop Shop. […]

  • Batman: Arkham Knight will be a digital only release on PC – report

    It appears Batman: Arkham Knight will not see a physical release on PC, according to ShopTo. The retailer was told by its buyer the Rocksteady game will only be released on PC in digital form. ShopTo is currently double checking the information. If accurate, it is unknown if this will be case in North America […]

  • Bloodborne patch focusing on load times, performance optimizations in the works

    A patch for Bloodborne which will address load times is in the works, Sony has said The load times were one of the issues noted in Digital Foundry’s report on the From Software title. Sony told Eurogamer the patch would also explore other issues as well. “The development team is currently exploring another patch for […]

  • Gearbox would “love” to have entire Borderlands collection on current-gen

    An Xbox One and PlayStation 4 version of the original Borderlands game is something Gearbox Software is interested in, according to studio boss Randy Pitchford. Speaking in the latest Major Nelson podcast, Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford said should Borderlands: The Handsome Collection prove successful, 2K Games might consider a current-gen version. “The fact that The […]

  • Wolfenstein: The Old Blood artwork shows the catacombs, dock, more

    Over the weekend we posted Wolfenstein: The Old Blood artwork along with news of a retail release in Europe. Today, we have better quality images of said artwork to share with you. Enjoy. The standalone prequel will be released digitally on May 5 on PC, PS4 and Xbox One in North America, and digitally on […]

  • Slender: The Arrival terrorizes PS4 and Xbox One this week

    In case you forgot, what with Bloodborne out today and other high profile releases of late, Slender: The Arrival is out today on PlayStation 4 in North America. The scary game will arrive on Xbox One tomorrow, March 25, and in Europe on PS4. Slender: The Arrival is an expansion on the original Slender game […]

  • World of Warcraft’s WoW Token rollout slated after launch of patch 6.1.2

    Blizzard has announced it will start rollout its WoW Token option in the weeks following the launch of patch 6.1.2 on March 24. WoW Token allows players to exchange in-game gold for game time and vice versa. Blizzard will release WoW Token first in realms serving North America, Oceania, and Latin America and will expand […]

  • The Evil Within: The Consequence dated for April, teaser video released

    Part 2 of Juli Kidman’s adventure in The Evil Within will arrive next month with the release of The Consequence. Above is a brief teaser showing some of the “madness” Kidman will encounter. The Consequence will arrive on Tuesday, April 21 on PC, PlayStation 3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. European PlayStation players will […]

  • Bloodborne sometimes “struggles to run at a smooth frame-rate” per performance analysis

    Bloodborne has been analyzed by Digital Foundry and according to the report, even with a 30fps cap the game sometimes “struggles to run at a smooth frame-rate.” The game’s day-one 2.69GB update 1.01 is “essential” as it contains improvements to game performance and stability and the frame-rate tests run by Digital Foundry were in single-player […]