Are you an on-line gamer? If you are, then definitely you are familiar with the game Ragnarok? But how did Ragnarok start? How did it become as one of the online games that hit it big in the market?
What fascinated me is the guerilla marketing that they implemented to market the product. Entrepreneurs are really innovative. They come up with resourceful ideas to make it big without incurring too many expenses.
Level Up! is the company behind the successful online game Ragnarok. It was run by father and son Nonoy and Ben Colayco. Nonoy Colayco has been in the fields of finance, investments and funds management. From the early 80s to the mid 90s, he held various positions in the Foreign Investments department of American International Group or AIG.
Nonoy is currently the Managing Director of Argosy Partners, Inc. and a Senior Partner of Argosy Advisers, a private equity advisory firm. Apart from advising clients on where to invest, Nonoy and his partners also invest their own funds in business ventures they believe in. Concurrently, Nonoy is also the Country Chairman of Jardine Matheson, the Chairman of Republic Cement, Chairman of Colliers Philippines, Member of the Advisory Board of JG Summit, Director of Aboitiz Transport Group, and a Director of several other companies.
During a business trip to Korea before, he smelled the opportunity that online gaming had to offer. He met with his former AIG colleagues to explore the potential of online gaming here in the Philippines. He didn’t know anything about video games and online gaming but he knew that Filipinos are fond of gaming. This prompted him to turn to his son Ben Colayco who at that time is having second thoughts if he will pursue an MBA degree.
Ben Colyaco was passionate about one thing: gaming. When he graduated from high school, he decided to take up law. He took up Political Science at New York University and after graduating, he decided to take up law proper. Nonoy Colayco is having doubts if his son Ben is really interested in pursuing to become a lawyer. He advised Ben to take up a break, do whatever he wants to do for one year, and from there decide whether or not to pursue a law degree.
Ben decided to follow his dad’s advice. He joined Grey Advertising and got his first marketing experience. While in Grey, Ben learned how to come up with advertising campaigns for detergent brands. After a year, Ben was no longer interested in pursuing a law degree. He changed his mind and got interested to pursue MBA instead. He told his dad Nonoy about his plans. Nonoy said he won’t pay for it and encouraged Ben to go back in the Philippines to spearhead a new business project. Ben decided to quit his MBA plans and went back in the Philippines.
Nonoy recalled that at the time they started, the network game Counterstrike was the hit online game. Basically, kids would go into gaming centers like internet cafes and play the game against other kids who were connected in a network. But their plan is to bring gaming to a whole new level, a level they called “MMOG” or Massively Multiplayer On-Line Games. The internet was growing and gaming was going towards that direction.
However, Ben asked how they are going to monetize it? How do they get people to pay for the games? For network gaming, it was easy – you just pay the cashier of the gaming center or internet café. But how would it be in the case of MMOGs? Anyone could virtually play anywhere with the use of the internet. So they thought that there should only be one center point of registration. And the only way to do it was for gamers to log-in and be required to pay before they play.
When both father and son Ben and Nonoy started spreading the word about their planned business, a lot of people were skeptical about it. But they went on unfazed. They got the publishing rights for two online games – Oz World and 3D Chat.
These games were not that popular but they served as their testing ground to see the response of the market most especially the number of subscribers and the ability of the infrastructure to handle large amounts of traffic. The results were not spectacular but they decided to continue on and got a more popular game. It was the time they got Ragnarok from Korea.
Rather than advertise in traditional ways such as newspapers, televisions, radio, and other means, they concentrated on distribution. This is the part where I liked most. They implemented some form of guerilla marketing. What they did was to produce as many Ragnarok installations as they could. They literally flooded the market with these CDs by giving them away. They gave it to publishers of local comic books and gaming magazines. They distributed them in anime, sci-fi and toy conventions. They sponsored proms and high school parties and they gave out these CDs. They connected with their target customers which are the youth. They made friends with the kids.
Pretty soon, kids were hanging out in their office. They developed “street credibility” by being one of them. It didn’t take long before news about Ragnarok spread. Before they knew it, they already had around 20,000 subscribers. It was at that point that they knew they had accomplished something special.
If life was indeed a game, Nonoy and Ben were definitely the undisputed top scorers and masters of the game! The game was not yet over for these Ragnarok pioneers. They were already looking beyond the Philippines for expansion and they were eyeing Brazil and India as potential markets.
Source: Go Negosyo