Retail Merchandiser - May/June 2017 - 20

Licensing

LEVEL-5 ABBY INC.

Myth	Meets	Tech

LEVEL-5 abby Inc. is licensing successful Japanese video games around
the globe on all platforms and devices. BY	CHRIS	KELSCH	

The Snack World is a crossover game set in a
world of mythology and technology that focuses
on the way we "snack" on media.

S
Simon Waldron,
SVP, marketing and
licensing
www.level5.co.jp/
abby/
Santa Monica, Calif.

20

imon Waldron, senior vice president of
marketing and licensing, has only been
with LEVEL-5 abby Inc. a few months,
but already he has picked up on a key
component that drives the company. "Here, creativity comes first," Waldron says. "The whole culture is
driven around the creativity, with the various business pieces that go around it."
As head of LEVEL-5 abby's marketing and licensing efforts, Waldron heads up one of those pieces that goes around the creativity. The global arm of
LEVEL-5, LEVEL-5 abby was formed in October
2015 to bring the best of Japanese children's entertainment to the global market, and just as important,
across all platforms and devices.
Akihiro Hino, who founded LEVEL-5 in Japan in
1998, leads both companies. He has also produced all
of the company's major video game, television series
and movie releases. Hino and LEVEL-5 chose Santa
Monica, Calif., located in the heart of the entertainment industry, as the base for its U.S. operations.

RETAIL-MERCHANDISER.COM

May/June 2017

As the company prepares to release its popular titles across many cultures and formats, it can do so
knowing its basic formula for successful video games
will lead the way. "It's really based on telling good
stories," Waldron notes. "We are putting the story
at the heart of the game." LEVEL-5's games offer
players many choices, ultimately giving them a say in
how the story turns out. "There are a lot of choices
at your fingertips," Waldron says. "Players are really
given the opportunity to explore."
	 LEVEL-5 abby can look to its portfolio for an
example of how to successfully brand license a game
across multiple platforms. YO-KAI WATCHâ„¢,
launched in 2013 by LEVEL-5, is a role-playing
video game based around the Yo-kai of Japan folklore, who are trouble-making beings said to be the
cause of life's daily annoyances.
A player can choose to be either Nathan "Nate"
Adams or Katie Forester. The player is given a special watch, which allows them to see the Yo-kai.
The player travels around town, searching for and
befriending peaceful Yo-kai, battling hostile Yo-kai
or solving problems caused by mischievous Yo-kai.
The game was planned as a franchise from the
start, and a second video game was launched in
2014, as was an animated series on TX Network,
owned by TV Tokyo. Subsequently, the game was
localized and released in the United States, Europe,
Australia, New Zealand and Latin America. The TV
series was also dubbed in English and broadcast in
the United States on Disney XD in October 2015,
one month ahead of the game's release in North
America. At about the same time, Hasbro launched
their toy program and Nintendo released their video
game to create a huge cross-media campaign.

New	International	Releases
Given the success of the YO-KAI WATCH model, LEVEL-5 abby is moving forward with global
launches of some of its other successful games. In
July, there will be a global release of LAYTON'S
MYSTERY JOURNEY: Katrielle and the Million-


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Retail Merchandiser - May/June 2017

Contents
Retail Merchandiser - May/June 2017 - Intro
Retail Merchandiser - May/June 2017 - Cover1
Retail Merchandiser - May/June 2017 - Cover2
Retail Merchandiser - May/June 2017 - 1
Retail Merchandiser - May/June 2017 - Contents
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Retail Merchandiser - May/June 2017 - 4
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