Yo-kai Watch toy deal confirms franchise’s move westwards

By Brenna Hillier, Monday, 16 February 2015 01:46 GMT

Yo-kai Watch developer Level-5 has locked down a deal to help bring its phenomenally popular 3DS games are coming to English-speaking audiences.


Yo-kai Watch is incredibly popular in Japan. Comparisons to Pokemon are justified, both for the series’s core gameplay and the incredible success of the franchise’s transmedia empire.

It was sort of a no-brainer that this lucrative property would turn up in western markets, but it takes a long time to put merchandising and licensing deals in place – and believe me, this franchise wouldn’t have gone anywhere without sorting that out first; it’s too valuable to pull a Sailor Moon on.

Hasbro was lucky enough to secure Level-5’s favour, and in a press release the two companies announced that a line of toys will launch sometime in 2016.

All the rest of it – the anime, comics, books, music, masses of merchandise and of course the games themselves – is on the way too, it seems, with details to be announced later this year. It’s possible that by going public with the Hasbro deal first, Level-5 will have more leverage to nail down western publishers, broadcasters and distributors for everything else.

“The Yo-kai Watch franchise has been hugely successful and we are ready to bring the brand to new markets across multiple platforms,” Level-5 president Akihiro Hino said.

Yo-kai Watch and its sequel are 3DS exclusives which have sold over 6.5 million units in Japan alone. The titular device allows the protagonist to catch and summon yōkai – spirits and monsters form Japanese folklore.

Following months of teasing, Level-5 confirmed it was working hard to bring Yo-kai Watch west back in August last year, but this is the first hard evidence of that effort actually bearing fruit.

Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. For more information, go here.