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Level-5 Inc. (株式会社レベルファイブ is an independent business who specializes in videogame development and publishing based in Fukuoka, Japan. The company, which currently employs about 200 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-5’s games, as well as serving as both 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 and distributing Level-5's games on the Nintendo DS. As of 2010, Level-5 is one of the ten largest video game companies in Japan, where they hold a 2.9% market share.