Some sad news this week for fans of Ni No Kuni, as the game's developer Level-5 has apparently shut down their U.S. operations. The news comes from GameIndustry.biz, who have taken note that the company has basically been running as a skeleton crew for over a year in North America with little explanation as to why. Now people close to the situation are reporting that they have either wound-down, ceased operations, or shuttered entire divisions with layoffs over the last 30 days to the Level-5 Abby spinoff office. Here's a snippet from the report with more details over what's happened to the division.
Sources say that no clear reason for the lay-offs was given, though those connected to Abby say that employees were "given every indication" that the studio would be closing down, with one or two employees remaining for a few more months to carry out essential functions throughout the process while the company consolidated its business between the Japan office and international advertising and branding company Dentsu.
Additionally, Level-5 Abby COO and head of Abby's day-to-day operations Yukari Hayakawa is said to have departed the company earlier this year according to multiple sources, though the job is still listed on her LinkedIn page. Attempts to contact Hayakawa for comment went unanswered.
To be clear, this is not a COVID-19 thing, as these decisions were being made clear back in July 2019. The company itself isn't shutting down as all reports on the Japanese offices seem to be normal, albeit under current self-quarantine circumstances. The best guess from anyone is that the company simply decided to stop having a U.S.-based office, but have gone about letting everyone in the company know about it in some of the most negligent ways possible. We'll see how this develops from here, but if anyone is still employed by the company in North America, it looks like they won't be for long.