India’s first online game publisher, Level Up! Network India Pvt Ltd is popularising online computer gaming and its communities through the introduction of Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs).
The company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Philippines based Level Up Inc, is present in India and Brazil, besides the Philippines. It started its India operations in July 2004 and is headquartered in Mumbai with offices in Pune, Bangalore and Chennai.
Level Up! Network India is the distributor of India’s first localised MMOG, Ragnarok Online, the immensely popular multiplayer online role-playing game. The specialty of India Ragnarok Online is that it gives users unique experiences that reflect local trends and cultures.
Venkat Mallik, MD, Level Up! Network India, said, ”Ragnarok has a huge community and global following because it is a series of in-game events that give players something new and exciting to look forward to every time they play Ragnarok.”
The game allows players to interact through dynamic virtual communities with other players all over the world in real-time. Thousands of online players can chat, form in-game guilds and develop their own characters and alter egos while playing Ragnarok.
Ragnarok also enables players to go on exciting quests and events and use their online avatar to live an adventurous parallel life. The community of online gamers can also trade for virtual products in virtual currency “Zeny”, form groups to strengthen an individual’s effort to fight against a monster, make friends with players from different locations of India, challenge other players and guilds for PvP Matches and tame monsters into pets for their avatars.
Online games today are a serious threat to television as people are increasingly interested in games where they have an opportunity to meet and interact with interesting people from anywhere in the world.
As Mumbai-based Abhishek Sen, who started playing Ragnarok last year, said, “The best part about Ragnarok in India is that we have an only-Indians community and we get to interact with others without an age or gender barrier.” He further said that even if some players stopped playing Ragnarok, they regularly kept in touch with other players through email.
Mallik asserted, “The new generation youth will no longer be glued to their television sets watching soap operas and Bollywood movies, but are seen to shift their definition of entertainment completely. Gamers are taking over the entertainment scene and this phenomenon has recently struck India.”
Agreeing with him, Purnima Iyer, an avid Ragnarok player, said, “My experience while playing Ragnarok has been awesome. It’s different from other online games because Ragnarok enables players to chat while enjoying a game.” She added, “I know some Ragnarok players personally as we meet quite often. We recently also had a meeting where some girls who play Ragnarok got together to know each other better.”
Commenting on the increasing popularity of games in India, Mallik said, “The game wave seems to be getting bigger and India is ready to ride it. All the early signals like the opening up of economy, the increasing usage of the Internet as a source of interactive medium for information and games are reflecting that it will not be too long before its presence becomes conspicuous.”