Tag Archives: Club Penguin Island

The Lesson of Club Penguin Island

If you assume your customers are loyal to your product and choose to test this you may be disappointed.

Back in the early 2000s the cable company sent me a letter.

When we moved into our house it had the old dual-coax A/B cable connection that had been installed back in the 70s.  It was a bit annoying, but HD wasn’t a thing for TVs yet so it didn’t really matter.  The TV worked, I had our ReplayTV DVR running with it just fine, I didn’t really think about it much.

The letter said that they would no longer be supporting the old network and we needed to call them in order to arrange new service.

Now I had to think about our TV service.  So I went out and compared deals and ended up calling DirecTV to get their package that included the receiver with Tivo integrated. (Based upon the recommendation of a friend who worked at ReplayTV no less.)

When I had that set I called up the cable company to cancel my service.  The agent wanted to know why I was cancelling and I explained that their letter said I couldn’t keep my current service so I went shopping for a replacement.  The agent said that I actually had almost five years until my current service would be discontinued, something not mentioned in the letter.  I told the agent that it was too late, I already had the new service installed.  And that was that.

Most people are happy enough with what they have in a lot of areas of their life.  But if you make them focus on a particular area, especially if you threaten to take away their happy situation, they may decide that there are better options out there.

And so it went with Club Pengiun Island.

Penguins go mobile

Back in March of last year Disney closed down the long-running web MMO Club Penguin, a game that had over 200 million registered users over the course of its twelve years online.  It was past its prime for sure, and was looking a little long in the tooth, but it had an audience that was still committed to it and could have carried on for years based on the groundwork that had been laid.

But for Disney, MMOs and web games were apparently yesterday’s news.  Mobile games were the new frontier.  And so they developed Club Penguin Island, a mobile game using the Club Penguin IP.

And, to be sure that it was a success, Disney closed Club Penguin the day before Club Penguin Island launched.

This actually worked out worse than I predicted.  I thought Disney had enough muscled to force Club Penguin Island to be a success.  I was wrong.

Of course the Club Penguin players were angry and in no mood to favor Disney with their presence.  Plus, the new game was on a different platform, so if you were playing on the PC you were probably more likely to just move to another PC game.

Reports said the game wasn’t ready for prime time.  Club Penguin Island had server issues and a host of bugs to address over time.  Meanwhile, even those fans of the old game who were willing to come over found Club Penguin Island unable to compare to the original.  An MMO that has been able to grow for a dozen years has more content than you can reproduce on a new platform in a short time.

Things were off to a rocky enough start that by the eight month mark Disney had a beta out for a PC version of the game, no doubt in hope of finding some of the users they lost when they skipped platforms.

Basically Disney betrayed their installed base, switched platforms, and offered an inferior experience, but thought it would all work out just fine.

It did not and yesterday the company officially announced that Club Penguin Island would be shutting down.  Text of the announcement quoted for posterity:

To our Club Penguin Fans and Family:

There’s no easy way to say this but after 13 incredible years, Club Penguin will be sunsetting at the end of this year. We’ll be providing players with all the necessary information in the coming weeks via in-game messages and updates here on Island News.

Thanks to you, Club Penguin has been more than a game; it’s been a global community where you have gathered to socialize and express yourselves. In a time when games come and go within months, it was one of the longest-running kids’ games of all time and at its height, had over 200 million accounts. Players from countries around the world showed their commitment to the game by adopting 25 million Puffles and creating over 200,000 videos.

When we replaced the original Club Penguin game a year and a half ago, we always strived to make Club Penguin Island the best mobile successor to the original game. From day one of development, Club Penguin Island has been a true passion project for everyone here at Disney but, the time has come for the party to end.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your continued dedication to the Club Penguin and Club Penguin Island games and for being a member of our family. We are so grateful to have shared in this journey with you. We’re excited to bring you more new experiences around all of Disney’s beloved characters and stories across all platforms.

Please look out for more information soon and as always, waddle on.

– Club Penguin Team

I find that message to be somewhat disingenuous as for a lot of Club Penguin fans, the actual game was shut down back in March of 2017 and the stats they are quoting are heavily weighted towards it.

Still, I am sure that the fans of Club Penguin Island will be disappointed all the same.  And those working on the game found themselves facing unemployment as well.

The actual shut down date hasn’t been announced, but I imagine Club Penguin Island won’t be around to ring in the new year.

Coverage:

The Fall of Club Penguin

No.  No more kids games.  Kids don’t spend well and it’s very difficult to run a kids game.  Turns out Kids do mean stuff to each other a lot.

John Smedley, Reddit AMA

Time for another MMO for kids to fall by the wayside.  Club Penguin, the 12 year old kids MMO with over 200 million registered users (as of 2013), has been closed by Disney.

We are no strangers to Club Penguin at our house.  My daughter was a fan of the game for a stretch and used to participate in events, was in a band in the game, and collected the various in-game items including hats and puffles.

Waddle around

In fact, it was a desire to collect some special in-game item that led my daughter to get her account banned when she gave her login information to a classmate who then gave it to somebody else.

Forever…ever…ever…ever…

That was a serious blow to her relationship with the game, as she had collected quite a bit of stuff.  If fact, she recently read that post I wrote about that incident and got mad at me when she realized I could have probably gotten her account unbanned if I had set that as a goal, as opposed to teaching her a lesson in account security.  She still misses some of her stuff even though that was half of her lifetime ago.  I cannot recall when I was 15 if I was nostalgic for things that happened when I was only 8.

But it really does not matter now as all of her stuff in Club Penguin is gone.  Disney announced back in January that the game would be shutting down and yesterday was the last day.  Sales have been down, Disney had already laid off some staff and closed down some of the overseas sites for the game, but that was not enough.

In a bit of an ironic turn, at least for our household, getting banned from Club Penguin became a new sport for people playing the game, and my daughter joined in

He last encounter with Club Penguin was trying to get kicked off of Club Penguin.  And that fun is over for good as well now that the game has been shut down.

Of course, I am dubious as to how badly Disney needed to shut the game down.  The financials are all buried in the numbers for the corporation and we are all pretty aware that online games in motion tend to hang onto a core audience that can keep them viable.  I doubt if the game were still independent that it would be closing.  But Disney is in the business of growth, not mere viability, so Club Penguin was sent off to join Toontown Online, another acquisition of theirs they subsequently shut down.

Anyway, the real reason to kill Club Penguin was to keep it from drawing customers from Disney’s new mobile venture, Club Penguin Island which, surprise surprise, went live on iOS and Android yesterday.

Penguins go mobile

The plan was obviously to channel Club Penguin player to the new game.

Of course, the usual reactions from the player base occurred, with people angry and threatening boycotts and the like.

Players like to settled down in their MMOs for the long term.  They want them to remain so they can come back and visit.  They get invested in their virtual goods and hate to lose them.  So expecting people to pick up from a long standing MMO to invest in a new game is a faint hope, and all the less likely when you chase them out of the old one with a stick.  Sequels are difficult as we saw with EverQuest II and Lineage II, neither of which ever outshined their predecessor.

And when the replacement isn’t even on the same platform… well, that seems like a faint hope.

Not that I think Club Penguin Island will fail.   It is a Disney product and will have Disney marketing behind it and will be featured on the Disney channel and on Radio Disney and in the Disney Store and so on and so forth.  It is just a completely different beast and will have its own fans and followers who may not have played the original.