Yo-Kai Watch, developer Level-5’s take on the Pokémon formula of gathering creatures and forming a squad out of them, has hit the incredible milestone of ten million copies sold. The number represents an international total that includes all entries released in the series to date, in all regions. So far in Japan, there have been two mainline Yo-Kai Watch titles plus Busters, while the west just saw the original hit stores this past November. Whether or not the series will ever reach the peaks of popularity that Pokémon has enjoyed for nearly twenty years around the globe has yet to be seen. There have been numerous attempts in the past to snag some of Game Freak’s market share abroad, from Digimon to Yu-Gi-Oh!, but despite varying degrees of success here and there, nothing has come close. Level-5 CEO Akihiro Hino himself has come out and acknowledged that “they’re working in a market packed with both Pokémon and all kinds of other attractive content,” which meant that breaking through and reaching consumers would always “be challenging no matter what.”
Hino went into further detail in a recent interview, offering some fascinating insights into the difficulties of bringing Yo-Kai Watch outside of Japan:
“To Japanese people, yokai aren’t monsters precisely — they’re a more special kind of thing. In the past, we used the term to refer to the personified souls of people, animals, or things that made contact with and grew attached to people.
“It was surprising to me, but when we did the research, people’s reactions to the more Japanese-looking Yo-Kai were better than we expected. I felt that kids, in particular, have an admiration for Oriental-style things.”
The quality is certainly there, as anyone who’s played the game can attest to, so there’s plenty of hope for Yo-Kai Watch to find its footing. In any event, ten million units is nothing to sneeze at, and even if Yo-Kai Watch remains a Japanese sensation only, that’s quite an admirable accomplishment on the part of Level-5.
Have you played Yo-Kai Watch? What are your thoughts on the burgeoning new series? Let us know, below!