K2 Network

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K2 Network, Inc. is an American producer and publisher of videogames based in Irvine, California. It pioneered the use of the free-to-play (or "freemium") business model among North American and European MMO game publishers in 2004.[1][2]

On July 5, 2012 the company merged with Reloaded Games,[3] and the merged entity ceased its K2 Network branded operations.

History[edit]

K2 Network was founded in 2001 on the belief that "the community experience of Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOG’s) will become one of the most significant forms of entertainment in the 21st century."[4] The company initially licensed games created by Korean development studios, and localized and serviced those games in North America, South America and Europe via its portal GamersFirst.com. In 2007 the company raised $16m USD in a Series-B financing round lead by Intel Capital.[5]

Licensed MMOs[edit]

K2 Network's licensed titles included Knight Online World for which it acquired the Western territory rights in 2003 and began publishing operations in 2004,[6] ceasing operations in May 2012.[7] The game grew quickly to more than 40,000 concurrent players[8] and proved especially popular in Turkey where K2 Network monetized the game using its network of ESN Code resellers.[9] K2 Network also licensed and published MU Online,[10] War Rock and Sword 2.[11]

Sexual harassment cases at K2 Network Pvt. Ltd, Bangalore[edit]

There have been few cases of sexual harassment of female employees at K2 Network Pvt. Ltd, Bangalore. As in the case of a 27-year-old female employee of a Bangalore BPO firm, K-2 Network Pvt. Ltd, for California-based computer game services company K2 Network Inc., complained to her human resources manager about sexual harassment by the director of India operations. The next day when she came to work, she says she was stopped at the entrance by the security guard. The company sent her a termination letter. It’s been almost eight months, but with no relieving letter in hand, she has been unable to find a job. “My husband wanted me to take it to court,” said the woman on condition of anonymity. She has served a legal notice to K-2 Network challenging the termination.[12] K-2 Network director, India, Shinoj Nambiar denied the charges. Speaking to Mint over the phone, he said: “She was terminated due to her performance, and we have documents to prove that. The allegation is a made-up story. Our legal consultants are dealing with this case.” K-2 Network has faced a similar allegation before. A 29-year-old woman says she, too, had faced sexual harassment at the company; she spoke on condition of anonymity. When she complained to human resources, they asked her to resign and she did as she was told. Asked why she didn’t go for a legal route, she said, “I come from a middle-class family and my husband told me not to work in a company where they don’t respect women.” Having received her dues and her relieving letter, she was able to find another job after two months. She, now, holds a 10am-6pm job at an insurance firm.[13]

Creation of Studio Subsidiary Reloaded Productions[edit]

In November 2010 K2 Network's subsidiary Reloaded Productions purchased the rights to APB: All Points Bulletin from Realtime Worlds during the latter company's administration proceedings [14] for a fraction of the game's original 60 million GBP development cost,[15] aiming to convert the game from a traditional subscription based business model as designed by Realtime Worlds, to a game called "APB Reloaded" using the Company's free-to-play model. In June 2011 Reloaded Productions acquired Fallen Earth from Icarus Studios planning to repeat the subscription-to-freemium business model conversion [16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Revolutionary free2play with Unlimited Playing Time" (Press release). K2 Network. December 6, 2004. 
  2. ^ http://www.trademarkia.com/free2play-78779650.html
  3. ^ Dan Crawley (July 5, 2012). "Free-to-play pioneer K2 Network merges with Reloaded Games". VentureBeat. 
  4. ^ http://www.gamersfirst.com/corporate/?area=company
  5. ^ Mark Androvich (June 18, 2007). "K2 Network secures $16 million, lead by Intel Capital". GamesIndustry.Biz. 
  6. ^ http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/285
  7. ^ http://www.snoxd.net/index.php/topic/4677-k2-settled-an-agreement-outside-court-with-mgame/
  8. ^ "Knight Online the Most Popular MMORPG on Download.com" (Press release). K2 Network. October 27, 2005. 
  9. ^ http://www.icopartners.com/blog/archives/1044
  10. ^ "K2 Network and WebZen reach license agreement for MU ONLINE" (Press release). WebZen. December 1, 2005. 
  11. ^ "Rock the House with GamersFirst at E3" (Press release). K2 Network. June 14, 2010. 
  12. ^ http://www.livemint.com/Politics/ljfFMZSsbTQxE7dAGGNvbK/Sporadic-legal-battles-point-to-labour-issues-in-IT-BPO-sec.html
  13. ^ http://www.livemint.com/Politics/ljfFMZSsbTQxE7dAGGNvbK/Sporadic-legal-battles-point-to-labour-issues-in-IT-BPO-sec.html
  14. ^ Tom Curtis (September 17, 2010). "Realtime Worlds Lays Off Final Staff In Dundee and U.S. Offices". Gamasutra. 
  15. ^ Business Editor (April 21, 2011). "60m GBP Video Game Sold Off for 780 000 GBP". Scotsman. 
  16. ^ Shawn Schuster (June 15, 2011). "GamersFirst announces acquisition of Fallen Earth with new F2P business model". Massively.