VNG in the news
From gamer to business
The online games industry has survived because of young people’s passion for it and despite parents and the press’s negative perception of it. Such has been the battle for ten years globally, but the community now seems more accepting, although gamers need to be constantly aware of the dangers of playing too much. It seems that 4 or 5 hours can fly by, and work or studies can be neglected if you’re not in control of the temptation.
A game fever has hit Vietnam, in which Vo lam truyen ky (VLTK) is the most popular. VinaGame (VNG) leaders, the company that launched VLTK, appealed to young, active people who fi nd this new entertainment industry irresistible.
The founders of VinaGame were gamers themselves and they shared the objectives. Mr Le Hong Minh, Head of VNG board of directors used to be the leader of Vietnam’s team in the World Cyber Game (WCG) 2002 competition in Korea. His associate is Mr Trinh Bao, Game Manager, who used to be a member of the organizing committee of WCG once held in Vietnam. The third member of the group is Tran Thanh Hai, Technical Manager who is one of the top-class international gamers. Together they have proved that passion for games is not bad. People can even make money from it!
"By Gamers, For Gamers"
This has been VNG’s slogan since the founding days of September 2004. Talking about it, Mr. Tuan Anh, External Aff airs Manager, recalledthat the slogan was born out of the blue. During a discussion about the company’s business card, one of the founders proposed the slogan and the others agreed immediately.
This slogan has now become VNG’s business culture. ‘By gamer’ means a working environment of friendliness and lots of fun mixed with high pressure and harsh competition. ‘For gamer’ implies a young, dynamic market with a high demand for entertainment. This is VNG’s starting point.
The initial team of 10 ‘gamer’ people provided the idea and the passion to create careers in online games (TCTT). Since then, VNG has overcome a lot of difficulties before becoming a successful enterprise with more than 300 staff . The difficulties that VinaGame encountered were two-fold. Finances were tough because there was no revenue for a year. Also, as Mr. Le Hong Minh said, society didn’t look kindly on this new industry. Though they have received much support, many people are still against online games, especially parents and the press. “It’s a real challenge for us to do a job that is not approved by society. Our big challenge is to change people’s awareness, and persuade them to accept this new industry so that it can develop further and bring benefi ts to the society”, Mr. Le Hong Minh said.
"To be honest, at the beginning, none of us knew how to develop online games," Mr. Tuan Anh said. "As a result, the fi rst thing VNG did was to send 10 founding members to a one-week course in online games, so that we could learn what online games were and then could allocate roles more specifi cally - who would be in charge of what. Following the course, we had to work and learn at the same time. That was very hard but the market was developing very fast. VNG still continues to learn in all fields because online games are still a new business in that it’s been around globally for only 10 years."
The story of VLTK
VLTK came to VinaGame equally unexpectedly. Mr. Tuan Anh was on staff but VNG had not built its offi ce when the copyright purchase of VLTK was signed. The staff has unforgettable memories of the early days… the technical department had to work overnight to meet the deadline and the market promotion teams had to travel thousands of kilometers by motorbike to advertise their product.
In fact, when choosing VLTK to be the fi rst product of the company in the online game market in Vietnam, VinaGame themselves didn’t know much about this game. VinaGame founding gamers had only a cursory reading of the content and knew that it was about swashbucklers, nonetheless, they decided to buy VLTK copyright almost right away because they felt that this game would be very popular with Vietnamese people.
Based on a famous Chinese story, VLTK 1 was born and very quickly bore fruits in China under the name of JX Online. It became one of the 10 favourite online games in 2004. Since then, VLTK received a lot of national awards such as “Best online game of China 2004” given by the Association of Software Games and PC Game Magazine of China. After that, VLTK 2 (JX2 Online) entered China’s Top 10 even though it was just launched in June of 2005.
In Vietnam, VinaGame signed a contract for the monopoly of VLTK in 2004. Since its appearance in June 2005, VLTK has become Vietnam’s favourite online game. The reason for this game’s great success is the cultural closeness and high sense of community expressed through the game in that during play, gamers communicate, interact and make friends with other gamers. VLTK helps create a culture of friendliness and high competition, thus attracting more and more gamers. Also, according to Mr. Tuan Anh, Vietnamese people may have been very familiar with Kim Dung’s stories of swashbucklers as well as the Oriental cultural elements clearly described in the game. This makes Vietnamese people feel that VLTK is very close to them and thus, easy to play.
An interview with Le Hong Minh, VinaGame Head of Board of Directors "We disapprove of excessive game playing"
VFT: Some people believe that playing games online is bad. What do you think?
Playing games itself is not bad but what is important is how we play. I played games since I was a boy. There were times when I was so engrossed that I forgot the time. I knew it was harmful but I couldn’t control myself because it was too tempting. Then when I grew up, I learned how to be moderate and use my time appropriately. Now I still play games regularly for 4-5 hours at a time but only during weekends or holidays. I think it’s advisable to spend time on other kinds of entertainment as well, such as playing sports or reading books.
The fact that China’s government has limited every gamer’s time for playing is a good way to prevent excessive passion for the games. They only allow a gamer to play at most for 3 hours per day, if they play between 3 and 5 hours, they get no benefits and if they play over 5 hours, they’ll have damages. Kingsoft – the owner of VLTK in China has committed to obey the government’s regulations to reduce the harm of playing games.
VFT: What is Vinagame's position on this?
We quite disapprove of excessive game playing. VNG has long encouraged our customers to allocate their time sensibly for playing games online and other jobs, because it not only affects the gamers badly but also VinaGame. As a company, we don’t benefit more by the gamers playing more. If the gamers know how to make a balance between playing games and other activities, they will use VLTK longer and bring more benefits for VinaGame. If a staff member plays games so much that he neglects his job, and is punished or dismissed, will he still want to play games? If a boy plays too much and it affects his studying badly, then his parents will prohibit him from playing. That’s why we say that VinaGame will also be harmed if gamers become addicted. When logging into the game, customers immediately see our warning: "Take care of yourselves…"
VFT: A Circular letter on Game online management was launched in July 2006. Does this have any impact on your company?
Now that we have this law, I feel more comfortable. But more importantly, the public has had a more tolerant attitude towards online games, especially now that the press talk about gamers and online games less negatively than before. Maybe a lot of journalists who write about games or information technology are also experienced gamers!
VFT: It is said that VNG is going to launch some new games in the future. Do you have anything to tell us about this?
VNG plans to launch about 4 new games in 2006, one of which has already been published. It’s called Ragnarok – world of legends (website: ro.vinagame.com.vn). VNG will make greater eff ort to remain one of the top companies in the field of online entertainment in Vietnam. Our ambition is that one day we’ll play an online game produced and launched by VNG – for example "Loan 12 su quan" (12 lord’s war).
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