Will Yo-Kai Watch 3 Release in the West?

With both the franchise and its system of choice losing popularity, will the third iteration of the series head West before it's too late?

 In July 2013, Yo-Kai Watch took Japan by storm. This Nintendo 3DS-exclusive RPG centering around Japanese mythological creatures was even seen as a competent competitor to Pokemon, which at the time was experiencing a slight decrease in popularity. The popularity of Yo-Kai Watch  in Japan led to several sequel games, spin-off games, an anime series, several movies, and plenty of toys. Eventually, Yo-Kai Watch even saw a release in North America -- as well as Europe and Australia -- although this wasn't until 2015. Despite the fact that Yo-Kai Watch didn't have nearly as much popularity in the West as it did in Japan, it still had just enough to stay relevant, receiving an English dub of the anime series and first movie, as well as English localizations of Yo-Kai Watch 2: Bony Spirits, Yo-Kai Watch 2: Fleshy Souls, and Yo-Kai Watch 2: Psychic Specters. While Yo-Kai Watch 2: Psychic Specters was the most recent game in the series to receive a Western release (on September 29, 2017), the most recent iteration in Japan, Yo-Kai Watch 3: SushiYo-Kai Watch 3: Tempura, and the updated version, Yo-Kai Watch 3: Sukiyaki, have not yet been confirmed for a Western release. With its popularity dwindling in Japan and many current and former Nintendo 3DS owners moving over to the Nintendo Switch, will Yo-Kai Watch 3 still see a release outside of Japan? Let's see if we can find out with the available information. 

Nintendo 3DS Still Has Support for Now

While the Nintendo Switch has gained plenty of traction in its first year on the market, the Nintendo 3DS is still going strong with both continuing sales and an already large user base. In the March 2018 Nintendo Direct, several Nintendo 3DS titles were announced, most of which will release in 2018, but some -- such as Bowser's Inside Story + Bowser Jrs. Journey -- won't actually launch until 2019. Yo-Kai Watch 3 might not be announced for the West yet, but the game could still release this year due to the previous pattern of Yo-Kai Watch releases. The international release of the first Yo-Kai Watch was announced at E3 2015 and arrived in North America on November 6, 2015, and in Europe on April 29, 2016. Yo-Kai Watch 2: Bony Spirits and Yo-Kai Watch 2: Fleshy Souls were announced for Western release during E3 2016, and they arrived in North America on September 30, 2016, and in Europe on April 20, 2017. Yo-Kai Watch 2: Psychic Specters, an updated third version of Yo-Kai Watch 2, was announced on July 31, 2017, and released in North America and Europe on September 29, 2017.  From this pattern, it's easy to come to the conclusion that if Yo-Kai Watch 3 is heading westward, then it will be announced this coming summer and will release sometime in fall. However, there are some factors which could cause a longer wait.

Sometimes Localization Can Take Awhile

There were two years between the Japanese and North American releases of the first Yo-Kai Watch game (three years between release in Japan and Europe). While this isn't a long wait compared to some other Japanese games, Yo-Kai Watch had to be changed a bit for Western audiences due to its heavy influence from modern Japanese culture. In the game, it's not as bad as the infamous 4Kids English anime dubs from the early 2000s, but there are some similarities.

Because of all the editing that comes with the localization process and how many other games the main localization team may be working on at the time, there's a possibility it may take a little longer for Yo-Kai Watch 3 to release, although it could still be within 2018. While Sushi and Tempura would most likely see a 2018 release,  Yo-Kai Watch 3: Sukiyaki probably wouldn't be released until 2019 due to Yo-Kai Watch 2: Psychic Specters releasing in the West a year after Bony Spirits and Fleshy Souls.

Ultimately, It's Up To Nintendo and Level-5 to Decide

Even though Yo-Kai Watch has never had as much popularity in the West as it once did in Japan, all three versions of Yo-Kai Watch 2 managed to be localized in the last two years. If Nintendo wants to keep showing that they will still support the Nintendo 3DS through 2019 despite more fans moving on to the Nintendo Switch, then announcing and releasing Yo-Kai Watch 3 would provide a way to continue that trend. Western fans will be glad that they will be able to play the Nintendo 3DS series in its entirety, and they will hopefully look forward to the possible Nintendo Switch release of Yo-Kai Watch: Shadowside as well as other upcoming Level-5 titles.

Watch Out for Yo-Kai

As previously stated, due to previous patterns, it's possible that Yo-Kai Watch 3: Sushi and Yo-Kai Watch 3: Tempura will be announced this summer for a fall release. It could be during E3 2018, it could be some time later, or it could not receive a Western release at all -- although that's not likely. At the moment, Western fans of the franchise will just have to hope for the best and expect their mischievous yokai friends to make another appearance soon.

Published Mar. 14th 2018

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