It’s with some wistfulness that I received the news last week that The Walt Disney Company is shutting down its Club Penguin website. Disney acquired the popular kids virtual world in 2007, and my children spent a couple years enthralled with it. Apparently, though, its popularity has been waning so Disney is closing the online game as of March 29. Don’t despair if your kids still love it because Disney is introducing Club Penguin Island to take its place.
Club Penguin is like many other virtual worlds in that users play games to earn a currency to feather their nests and dress their players. In this case, penguins earn coins that they can use to purchase clothing for themselves, hats for their puffles and decorations for their igloos. Physical coins with online codes are attached to plush puffles and penguins and play sets sold in stores, and these unlock bonus items, such as extra puffles or clothes.
Club Penguin offered two types of accounts — free and paid. Users who pay the monthly rate have more access and more options, of course. To hear my kids tell it at the height of their obsession, you HAVE to have a paid account to do the fun stuff.
Club Penguin is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), which means millions of users are playing at the same time. Penguins can friend each other, and if the requests are accepted, users gain access into each other’s igloos and can interact in other ways, such as messaging.
In addition to entertainment, Club Penguin also delivered positive messages including one about charitable giving with its Coins for Change holiday program. Disney spent millions on its Club Penguin Internet safety campaign for kids. Most recently, the website gave elementary school students a place online to have their anti-Trump protest heard.
The new Club Penguin Island game will launch in March and be solely for mobile devices. (Club Penguin could be used on desktop and mobile devices.)
“The problem for Club Penguin, which was aimed at younger children and tweens primarily, is that there are now so many apps vying for kids’ attention,” according to TechCrunch.com. “The new site, Club Penguin Island, will look to recapture kids’ interest, with a modern-day take on the original virtual world, but one’s that focused on mobile.
“Though related, Club Penguin Island is its own, standalone app — players can’t bring items or coins from the old site to the new one. Their Club Penguin membership will also not transfer over to the new property. Club Penguin Island is currently offering pre-registration, so kids can reserve their new penguin’s name in advance of its March release.”
Club Penguin Island will be available for iOS and Android mobile devices.