Level-5 Inc. is an independent video game developer and publisher based in Fukuoka, Japan. The company, which employs about 280 individuals, was founded in October 1998 by Akihiro Hino after he departed from the now defunct Japanese developer Riverhillsoft. Hino designs, plans and produces all of Level-5â€™s games, and is President and CEO of the company.
Since its inception, Level-5 has enjoyed a very close relationship with Sony Computer Entertainment, with many of its titles funded by and produced in conjunction with the publisher. Since the release of Professor Layton and the Curious Village for the Nintendo DS in early 2007, however, the company has begun diversifying its product portfolio and focusing more on self-funding and self-publishing its titles in Japan with Nintendo's overseas subsidiaries distributing Level-5's games on the Nintendo DS. In 2010, Level-5 was one of the ten largest video game companies in Japan, where it held a 2.9% market share.