BY KENDYL COUNTS
Club penguin is in trouble – and this time, Herbert the polar bear has nothing to do with it. After facing a steady decline in web traffic for the past few years, the site has finally shut down, taking the fond memories of millions of players with it.
Launched in 2005, Club Penguin was operated independently by the company New Horizon Interactive until it was purchased by Disney two years later. Since then, millions of penguin avatars have waddled across the island playing games and making friends.
The company announced the game’s impending termination on January 30, prompting the generation that grew up with it to take to social media with their nostalgic memorials and tearful goodbyes. To console members, the game held a farewell party beginning on February 1st, culminating in a day of free membership for the 24 hours before the game’s final shut down on March 30th.
For the children who logged on between 2005 and 2017, the website served as a place where they could control their own world, from the color of their penguin to their igloo décor. A multiplayer platform, penguins could meet up with their real-life friends and hang out in the virtual world together, playing games like sled racing and mancala.
“I just bought a $20 membership two months ago,” junior Marc Olmeda said. “Pizzatron was my favorite hobby and now I can’t do anything.”
The increased competition for children’s attention due to the popularity of mobile apps was cited as a factor in Club Penguin’s demise. In response to this phenomenon, Club Penguin released a mobile replacement for its popular desktop game: Club Penguin Island.
The new game, available on the Apple App Store and Google Play, holds plenty of similarities to the original game. Just like in the classic Club Penguin game, players can still customize their look and chat with friends (using predetermined phrases). New, however, is their ability to embark on quests and complete daily tasks to earn coins, XP and items.
Memberships, names, items, coins and puffles won’t be transferred to members’ new accounts on Club Penguin Island. Instead, players will start fresh, with those who were players of the classic version receiving an “alumni jacket” upon providing their original Club Penguin login information.
While some are relieved that Disney will continue to produce content within the Club Penguin brand, there is widespread concern among the slightly older generations that it will be too unlike the original that they grew up with. Though many of the kids that grew up with the original Club Penguin are well beyond their elementary school years, seeing such a large part of their childhood come to an end was bittersweet.
“I’m really sad,” freshman Simone Goldberg said. “It was one of my favorite games. I used to fight with my sister over the computer to play it.”
In the midst of their launch of Club Penguin Island, Disney did not forget to say goodbye to its loyal fanbase. A statement posted on a cartoon plaque after members finally tipped the infamous iceberg captured the spirit of cooperation that the game had spent twelve years trying to establish.
“Together we can build an island, create a community, change the world… and even tip an iceberg,” the statement read. “Waddle on.”