Professor Layton Takes His Final Bow, Now It’s Time For Something New

By Ishaan . March 10, 2013 . 10:30am


Professor Layton and the Azran Legacies released in Japan last week and sold 130,000 copies in its first week. While that’s marginally better than its predecessor—which had the lowest debut in the series—it’s still the second-lowest game in the entire Professor Layton saga, as far as debut sales go. Here’s a sales comparison:


(2007) Professor Layton and the Curious Village – 136,736

(2007) Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box – 293,897

(2008) Professor Layton and the Unwound Future – 347,360

(2009) Professor Layton and the Last Specter – 306,473

(2011) Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask – 119,591

(2013) Professor Layton and the Azran Legacies – 130,686


Level 5 have been referring to Azran Legacies as Professor Layton’s final adventure, and it’s just as well. With sales declining so steeply this generation, it looks like it might be time for the Professor Layton series to see some sort of a shake-up if Level 5 intend to continue it in any form. Maybe a gritty third-person shooter? Layton once built a gun out of a slot machine, you know.


Food for thought:

In all seriousness, should Level 5 want to continue the series, what would you suggest? A more traditional point-and-click adventure game perhaps?


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  • poisui

    The reason is more likely because far fewer people have a 3DS than a DS.

    • While this might be part of the reason, I don’t think it’s the biggest reason. I think what may be affecting Layton’s performance more is the crash of the “Brain Age” casual market. The original Layton was inspired by those games and tried to cater to women within that market. Now that that market has died down, Layton is being impacted alongside Brain Age, too.

      • Skyer Ist

        Yeah, but Brain Age was always faaaaar bigger (it attracted more casuals for sure) and flopped on 3DS harder than Layton. They’re similar in something, right, but in the same time, different examples. 5th Layton game sold like ~400K on 3DS in Japan (drop from 750-850K of 3rd and 4th Laytons in Japan). And Brain Age failed like a rock, from 5 million to 250K. Huge difference. Also, Layton dropped similar to Inazuma, which is always been popular in child sircles, not that “female casuals” (from ~1M (2nd, 3rd DS releases) to ~400-450K on 3DS). Both is falling, but continues to stay as Level 5 most powerful franchises. (and one more note — as Iwata said, a lot that female audience bought 3DS to play sensationaly popular Animal Crossing, but looks like they doesn’t care in Layton etc)

        • Brain Age was far bigger, correct, but a large portion of that audience did pick up the Layton games as well. They’ve gone from million-sellers to selling what they do now. Both series have dropped, but since Layton has characters that people care about, it’s managed to hold on somewhat.

          Also, keep in mind that Nintendo specifically pointed out that Brain Age 3DS sells were fairly high on the eShop, since it’s a title that people preferred to download instead of buying a cartridge for. I think a more fair comparison between Layton 6 and Brain Age 3DS will only be possible when we have more complete data for how both games did over several months.

  • ragingmerifes

    I would sincerely suggest a spinoff to attract new audiences, because I seriously can’t see how it would end if the game started having brand new stuff now. Unless, of course, they take a Phoenix Wright turn and have a new protagonist, and that would be good. Risky, but good.

    • Shane Guidaboni

      Isn’t Phoenix Wright x Professor Layton technically a spinoff?

      • ragingmerifes

        Sure, but not a spinoff to invite much more people into the game. Layton and Wright appeal to the same niche.

  • hire 999 writer and make a kick-ass VN

    • Not going to help. Your average visual novel doesn’t even sell half of what Layton games do.

      • Shippoyasha

        I think they can make a more visual novel style storytelling and combine it a lot of gameplay and puzzle elements. Of course it won’t be like a Layton or visual novel style game in the strict sense.

      • aren’t VNs uber popular in japan?

        of course they can always pull of a SE and make 298529852 social and iOS ports/spin-offs

        • Some are, like Steins;Gate or Chaos;Head or the Higrurashi games or Type-Moon stuff, but on average, if your visual novel-esque game sells something like 50,000 copies lifetime on console, that’s considered a big success.

  • Go2hell66

    if they want to keep selling this they need to re-do this game as a fully open world action-rpg with a real time battle system and sakuraba composing the battle music with anime cutscenes done by ufotable

    • Skyer Ist

      I remember Hino comments about full 3D Layton game in open world London for Wii U D:

  • LunarKnite

    I can see why the series isn’t selling as much. No matter how much of a gentleman Layton is, his games are getting pretty stale, and the story has been rather lackluster the past two western releases. I wouldn’t mind them letting Layton go back to his studies and creating a new IP in the same universe.

  • I think there are two reasons why Layton doesn’t sell.
    One is that the transition from DS to 3DS was rocky, at best, and the public that it catered is much smaller on the 3DS.
    And secondly, honestly Layton games aren’t the type of games they leave you wanting for a huge lot more. You can come up with only so many puzzles before it gets repetitive and simply not all that charming anymore…
    I’m not sure if these are actually as meaningful of reasons as they seem to be, but it looks that way from where I stand : (

    • kmantle

      “…Layton games aren’t the type of games they leave you wanting for a huge lot more…”

      Well, I have known A LOT of people (myself included) who where left wanting more puzzles after each game was finished.

      • I acknowledge some people might feel compelled to keep playing the games, wether due to the characters or the new puzzles and that’s always a fact for every single thing, a cult following, but there’s yet another fact: there’s only a limited number of types of puzzles you can come up with.
        The more games you make, the more ideas you exhaust. There’s a point that there’s not much nothing new to do. And I trust many many people can feel really unappealed by this.
        This is, afterall, a series based on solving. If you have an idea how to solve the puzzles, know the steps or the overall way the game wants you to think like then much of the charm of the game is just…lost.

    • Elvick

      I don’t play Layton for the puzzles, but for the characters and stories~

      Honestly, I could do without the puzzles, but I deal with ’em because I love me some Layton.

      • But if we take the game’s elements apart the one thing that makes it truly unique is that it’s puzzle-driven, not story-driven.
        Generally I felt the plots were less enlightening and more of “excuse plots” while Layton finds puzzles in the most inane places.
        If the puzzles get stale then the game just…isn’t all that charming anymore. And just “another game” in the public’s eye.
        To put in a different light: many can say they play Ace Attorney for the characters, but if we took out its contradiction and evidence system it’d be overlooked and forgotten in the massive amount of games.

  • Continue the series as Luke?

    Layton had a great run, I don’t mind the series ending but he should get cameos in future.

  • Oni123

    Love the layton games =( i wanted to know what happens after unwound future. maybe something similar to the walking dead game could work for layton? that way it could be more story focused and the main puzzles would be part of the environment rather than little minigames ect.

    • Skyer Ist

      Mee too! Sooo want to know what happend after. I cried like a baby in the end of UF :(

  • Metalsnakezero

    I think they need to go big with Layton like point and click adventure on the Wii U, how perfect is that?

  • They should leave the franchise until the 3DS has a larger base and bring it back with Luke as the main character solving a mystery for Layton

  • DesmaX

    I think it’s time to give it a rest.
    Maybe release a new one some years later…

  • MrSirFeatherFang

    How did Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney sell compared to the other Layton games on the 3DS.

      • MrSirFeatherFang

        128,856 copies? ouch. I think Ni no Kuni (internationally) and Fantasy Life is selling well for Level 5, right?

        • Göran Isacson

          Do note: That was the FIRST WEEK sales. I believe it eventually managed to sell enough to make back it’s budget through the holiday season 2012 (maybe even turn a small profit, not sure), but yeah- it wasn’t exactly flying off the shelves.

          • Skyer Ist

            Layton vs. Ace Attorney sold ~290,000 as of now (last week Famitsu Top 30 Data, L5 shipped 300K). With digital sales the game already passed 300,000 for sure. Can’t wait to see it in Europe! *___*

          • MrSirFeatherFang

            Yes, I did notice it was the first week sales, but I’m pretty sure the sales in this articles are also first week sales, so just a comparison.

        • Well, Fantasy Life isn’t a HUGE seller or anything, but it’s already showing early signs of having a ton of future potential that they can turn into a consistently successful series. So yeah, I think Fantasy Life is a success for them.

          And yeah, Ni no Kuni is probably doing reasonably well in the West, although it’s been a while since we heard anything. The thing with NNK, though, is that it was such a big budget game that it’s hard to know how much they profited off it.

  • Skyer Ist

    Personaly, I want sequel trilogy — what happend after Unwound Future. The truth is, total sales of each new game began to decline long time ago. 1 > 2 > 3 >> 4 etc. But still it’s selling good worldwide, I mean all releases – million sellers, Level 5 has nothing as big as Layton worldwide at the moment. Looking forward to Azran Legacies and upcoming movies (animation and live-action). I think I will cry in the end of this sixth game… :( We’ll know what happend with Emmy *___*

  • There’s nothing much they can do with it anymore. The series had a great run but it’s time to put it to rest.

    A spinoff, spiritual successor or loose sequel is possible but they need to wait for at least one, two or maybe even more years before they make it.

  • Franchise fatigue. Six games in that’s span is quite a lot. They should give it a break for a while. I’m sure after a couple of years out of the loop when they announce a new one people will be excited again.

  • Göran Isacson

    Seeing a bunch of reasons who sound pretty neat and logical here- more people own a DS than a 3DS, franchise fatigue due to the hectic release schedule and running out of ideas, but what I’m interested in is Ishaan’s statement down there about how the “Brain Age” market crashed. Hadn’t really thought about that- when did that happen? Did that market just move on to smartphones, or did a whole market just get tired of playing games and vanished into thin air?

  • nick_54g
    • Skyer Ist

      I can’t imagine it *crazy*

    • Elvick

      This reminds me of a puzzle.

      • nick_54g

        he says that after he just blast a guy in the face.

    • Suicunesol

      But before you play the TPS part, you have to do another puzzle to put together the gun.

      • nick_54g

        his new phrase would be “Kicking ass and drinking tea.”

    • Ferofax

      A true gentleman always shoots first.

  • disgaea36

    I think they should continue but take a break for now we have been getting professor layton games back to back if they take a few years off and then come back with one that has been really worked on well it might pick up the sales. I’m still on curious village lol so level can take it’s time.

  • SirRichard

    I wonder why the series has just petered off after Unwound Future. Did people just lose interest after that one, or what?

    Personally I’d love to see more of the series, even in another form like a traditional adventure game or something. Don’t know how I’d feel about them dropping Layton, really, but it depends on how they do it I suppose.

    • Skyer Ist

      No, Unwound Future sold extremely good. They just wanted to show how professor and Luke met, etc etc, their original adventures. So this is how prequel trilogy born.

      • SirRichard

        Well yeah, I can see that and know all that. My question is why did the sales just die off after it? Last Spectre did alright, but not as well, and then the two after that just plummet. Could’ve been the DS to 3DS jump, could’ve been the Brain Training market crashing as Ishaan said, who knows.

        • Colonel Custard

          I think it more so a problem of awareness if I wasn’t a compulsive silconera user I wouldn’t have known of the games that came out or rather when they would come out.

        • Desukoru

          This is rather far-fetched, I know, but it could have been that people simply lost interest between the two-year gap between Miracle Mask and Azran Legacies. Even with the daily puzzles for a year, that’s still a year that has to be filled up somehow.

  • Kyle Silva

    I don’t think Miracle Mask’s debut sales were bad in any way. Keep in mind that game was the best selling 3DS launch title in Japan.

  • I think it’s just best if they end it. This is a wonderful series where every game is worth playing on it’s own merit. That they’ve crafted 6 great games is a wonderful thing as many series have low points. Layton should take the gentlemen’s exit and leave with his integrity.

    That being said although I think it’s time to end the game series I think it’d be a great idea to continue with animations. I thought Eternal Diva was pretty good.

  • If anything, the marketing for the game has died considerably. Unwound Future especially had a lot of press backing it up, on TV and in the newspaper/newsblogs. Last Specter didn’t, and I don’t think they did much to improve that after the fact.

    I’m glad personally that they know when to stop. I absolutely love the
    series, but it’s getting rather obvious that the puzzles are running
    out, which is really dangerous in the gameplay.

    Plus, this means that they can get back to working on more JRPGs. I know it’s a bit of a ho-hum shot, but I’d like to see something of Rogue Galaxy, or at least a fresh JRPG like that from them again. Level-5 has really been tacked with just Layton and just Inazuma, so I think that for the sake of not being pushed to the side against other developers, it’s a safe move and it’s a good place to leave the Layton series.

    • They made RPGs consistently I thought? Though I would like a new Dark Cloud.

      • Colonel Custard

        This guy he knows whats up seriously new Dark Cloud or Rogue Galaxy its just money waiting to happen, or are they waiting for another rpg boom.

        • Solomon_Kano

          Rogue Galaxy coming back would make me happier than I can even imagine, man.

    • I don’t think L5 ever really stopped making RPGs. Even now, they’ve got one coming up in Youkai Watch. Girls RPG was a role-playing game, too, although it bombed. The Little Battlers is also an RPG series.

      • Never quite said they stopped, it was such a change of focus though, and I think it’s that lack of focus that kept those RPGs from really staying solid, you know? Keyword: fresh. I do like LB though, to be honest, but even that could be quite vastly improved now that puzzles are going to take a breather for a while.

  • Solomon_Kano

    I don’t know what Level-5 can do here other than give the series a rest, but what I think will be interesting is seeing how Ace Attorney 5 does when it comes out.

    AA and Layton appealed to a similar niche, so I’m looking forward to seeing if it faces a similar decline. AA x Layton sold numbers in keeping with Layton’s current straits, so will AA also see numbers so low? At the same time, it’s worth considering that Layton appears more frequently while it’s been two years since the last AA game and 5 years since AA4. Layton has consistently sold more than AA, so the drop would hurt AA more, but will AA’s time away have it selling higher or will it see a comparable drop?

    Back to Layton though, I think Level-5 just has to let it rest. Give the series a few years off, let the 3DS’ userbase increase (I mean, Pokemon’s hitting 3DS this year, so a dramatic increase should be in store), then bring it back. In the meanwhile, it wouldn’t hurt for them to throw some of that multimedia magic they’ve been working with Inazuma and LBX at it. The series has movies, yea, but while the games are on break they could start an anime. Keep Layton’s name out there even while he’s away, so it’s that much more anticipated when the series returns.

    In the meanwhile, I guess we’ll have to see how well Youkai Watch turns out for them.

  • Mrgrgr and Unacceptable World

    I think the main reason why Layton series have been selling lesser on 3DS is simply because many of it’s fans have not migrated to 3DS from DS.

    And the fact thta Level-5 keep pushing them every year is not making things looks better.

    I think, Layton IP can still be continued here but maybe make it into 2 years to three years one title series. If Level-5 is afraid that people begin to forget about Layton, they can actually put Layton and his crew as cameo on their other games.

  • Given that Level 5 seems to have taken the Activision route to franchising with Layton (i.e. flog a property mercilessly until everyone’s sick of it), the only surprise here is that this didn’t happen sooner. From what I’ve seen the Layton sequels were pretty shameless about their lack of innovation, rigidly reiterating the original game’s formula only with added gimmicks and minor tweaks. I say it’s time to let the franchise die, or at least take an extended vacation.

  • Will Jay

    You can pretty much nail it down to simply the 3DS not having as much of an install base for this type of game. Or not having as much of an install base as the DS at all. Even Inazuma Eleven’s taken a decent drop after 3 due to the system change.

  • Main reason is Asia. Simple as it seems, take a look at the color options for 3DS XL for most Asia countries like Singapore, Malaysia or even Jakarta. It’s either blue or red plus there’s not much promotional drive for it.

    I wanna get my hands on a WHITE 3DS XL but can’t get it in Singapore. Either have to wait for confirmation on color arrival or head to Hong Kong & purchase one. Just not sure about the warranty.

    So that being said, I’m sure a lot of my kinds are out there thinking of buying but lack of attractions from Nintendo to antagonize gamers’ taste buds. So many bundles are all for either US, Europe & Japan market, Nintendo is not interested in Asia market??? Sad but true.

    Keep thinking that Europeans & Americans are with spending power then, Nintendo.

  • Cadistra

    They can make a Layton game about him eating crackers for 15+ hours and I’d STILL buy it.
    I…I’m a little obsessed. .__.

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