Anyone over 30 probably isn’t aware of what Club Penguin was, but younger people have fond memories of the web based MMO game. Designed exclusively for children, it was designed as a safe place children could play online. It’s been an online staple until just a couple of days ago, when the web servers were shut down for good. In its place, owners Disney have introduced the mobile app Club Penguin Island.
Switching to an app makes sense in a lot of ways. Back in 2004, when Club Penguin was introduced, you’d expect children experiencing the internet to do it on a PC or laptop. Nowadays though, we’re much more likely to see children using phones or tablets in order to do so.
When the announcement that Club Penguin was shutting down was made, though, there was an outcry from a lot of long time fans. They felt as though the game may lose a lot of its charm and fun if it made the switch to mobile. On 29th March, users flocked to the site in order to be there when the servers were shut down. It seems that even after all this time, the game was still loved.
It’s easy to see why. As a children’s MMO, it was somewhere children could play online safely. Parents and guardians could let their kids loose on it, knowing that they wouldn’t run into material or language that could be harmful to them. This was achieved by a mixture of restrictive language filters and moderators. This, of course, lead to some players trying to cheat the system, often with hilarious results.
Now that the app is here, is there any difference between it and it’s predecessor? On the surface, it doesn’t appear so. There are still strict language filters in place, with one Kotaku writer finding that they implement a ‘three strikes and you’re out’ policy, eventually getting banned. You can still pay a membership fee to get full access to the game, although it is possible to play for free without the full access membership provides. There are still games to play, and quests to complete.
However, it seems that the app isn’t giving the full experience that the web based game provided. Users have reported that several of the games are missing, and that the experience is much more stripped down. Worse, it seems as though on launch the servers were unstable. Users reported that they were being kicked off every few minutes as they tried to play.
While this is bad, it probably won’t be the end for Club Penguin Island. As with many app games, more features will likely be implemented over time. As for the servers, they will eventually become stable over time. It draws a lot of comparisons to Pokémon Go, where launch day issues and apparent lack of game play were addressed in the following months.
It’s very early days, so it’s not possible to gauge whether Club Penguin Island has become a success yet. Only time will tell.