KLONDIKE, CP Army Headquarters – Every few months comes a story that shocks the entire community. Maybe your second-favourite army was caught multi-logging for the twenty-fifth time this week or maybe that leader you always thought was pleasant turned out to be pretty horrific. Moments like these are always interesting to reflect on, and that’s precisely why this week we will be discussing That Time When Club Penguin closed down… and then closed down again… and one more time.
Opened to the public on October 24, 2005, Club Penguin served as a virtual world that allowed millions of people – primarily children between the ages of 6 – 14. For many of us, including myself, the game served as an escape from the awful real world to a virtual world where fun was at the press of our fingertips. Players would spend hours upon hours playing classic games such as Aqua Grabber and Card-Jitsu and of course, making new friends along the way.
In the August of 2007, the Walt Disney Company picked up the rights to Club Penguin in a 350,000,000 USD deal, as well as an additional 350,000,000 USD if performance targets were met in the following two years. The deal would see the end of RocketSnail’s reign and the beginning of Disney’s Interactive Studios – a move that not all players supported at the time.
In 2013, rumours of a “CPNext” began to spread like wildfire. Not only amongst the army community, but the wider Club Penguin player base as a whole. Initially, the idea was simply a mobile port of the original Club Penguin title, but as time went on, many players began speculating that Disney had a deeper idea for the game: to completely replace the original Club Penguin with this mobile-exclusive title. In a Club Penguin Army Central post, a then-Executive Producer Kingfunks4 covered the topic of CPNext and its potential impact on the army scene.
Every few months or so, the rumour would start spreading again. What was Disney’s plan? To end Club Penguin on browser? As no one really knew, the best option for players at the time was to just continue playing the game they came to love. However, in 2016 “Project Super Secret” was announced, which naturally had many players worrying again. After months of near-constant worry from both army and Club Penguin players, Club Penguin Island was announced in November of that year.
The most notable aspect of the upcoming Club Penguin Island was not that it was in 3D, or that you couldn’t even play 99% of the game without a membership (seriously, look it up) – but rather the fact that it was mobile-exclusive. That’s right. The new and supposedly improved Club Penguin wasn’t even accessible to a large portion of the player base. Unfortunately, despite the concerns proposed by notable Club Penguin players, Disney went ahead and shut down the original on March 30th, 2017, to pave the way for this new game.
A video showcasing the last minutes of Club Penguin, created by YouTube user “Drivr3Joe”
When Club Penguin Island initially released, the game received mixed reviews. There is, of course, no way anything could live up to the hype the original Club Penguin had, or perhaps that is just the nostalgia speaking. The game lacked a lot of the content the original had, locking even more of it behind its subscription service. The game received mixed reviews up until it’s 1.8 update, released on November 30th, 2017. This update would add many user-requested features, and even released a PC and Mac download.
During this time, armies were spread across many different “Club Penguin Private Servers,” as Club Penguin Island didn’t provide the community with any way to “battle.” Whilst a few may have tried, none were successful and games like Club Penguin Rewritten were the way to go. Army Legend Mchappy actually conquered Mammoth, as can be seen below!
As mentioned previously, the game did not live up to the standards set by its little brother. As such, many were not-so-surprised when Disney announced the shut down of the title on September 27th, 2018. Rumours began to spread that Disney would be bringing the old game back, but nothing of the sort ever happened and as such, Club Penguin had died, for its final time, and was never going to come back.
Hey, remember those Private Servers I mentioned a couple paragraphs ago? Well, at this point they are still around and a six-month old Club Penguin Online was taking the community by storm! Of course, Club Penguin Rewritten was still around and many armies favoured it at the time due to the owner of Club Penguin Online being Riley, also known as Waterkid101, one of the original community’s most notorious players. Waterkid101, in his time, has done some very bad things that I don’t particularly want to list here, but if you are interested you can look up his name on Club Penguin Army Central.
After a while, Club Penguin Online had grown so much in popularity that it claimed to have reached seven million players – certainly large enough to compete with other MMOs. The game’s popularity mostly came in the form of nostalgists looking to play the iconic Club Penguin games they played in the past, all while having nothing to do during the Coronavirus pandemic. However, the attention the game was receiving wasn’t all good – because the game had something they called mature servers – servers that permitted swearing and even went as far as racism, sexism and so much more. This caught the attention of Disney, who forced the game to close down in an attempt to save their brand.
Despite our beloved game closing down on three separate occasions, we continue to stand strong. Now, primarily operating on Club Penguin Rewritten, we are in a better position than we have been in before. Hopefully we will never have to go back and change this post to add one more “And Again,” and Club Penguin can finally thrive as it has done so many times before. Finally, my friends, that recaps That Time When Club Penguin closed down… and then again… and again.
For a list of sources, you can click here.