For most people, there comes a moment when you finally have to accept that your childhood is over. It’s often quite simple to pinpoint it; perhaps a loved one who saw you through your early days passes on, or a favourite place to visit closes down, or you move away from the family home you held dear for almost two decades. Whatever the reason, the feeling is the same: those simple days are over, the world is different, and it’s time to face adult responsibilities. However, because I’m an absolute nutjob (as you all know by now), that moment for me wasn’t any of those pathos-filled scenarios. It was the termination of Disney’s Club Penguin.
All the countless hours spent grinding coins, tending to my multicoloured assortment of Puffles, jetpacking through numerous spy missions, exploiting a bug in the pizza minigame for extra dough (heh) – all vapourised in an instant in 2017 because the Mouse House wanted to push their smartphone version. Which, incidentally, bombed spectacularly, leaving the IP adrift and out in the cold. Not unlike the Iceberg area, the subject of much lore and speculation in the game. Kids, uh, had more imagination in the 2000s.
Those of a certain age will need no introduction to Club Penguin, but just in case: it was a Flash-run online MMO beginning in 2005 that kids could sign up to and interact with their friends on, waddling around a surprisingly detailed and well-realised island resort with all manner of rooms and activities to partake in. It’s fondly remembered for the intricacy of its immersion (several recurring characters appeared, and you could read in-universe newspapers and books), the cosy visual style, and its ubiquitous longevity. The thing lasted well over a decade, and though Disney eventually turned it into a paid subscription service that served as a vehicle to promote whatever animated flick was new at the time, gamers were sad to see it go. It marked the end of an era; an era, it turned out, which many weren’t willing to let die.
Club Penguin? Try Club Phoenix
A prominent imitator, Club Penguin: Rewritten, sprung up in its place in 2017. An unlicensed, unendorsed fan effort, CPR amassed millions of loyal avians simply by offering the exact same game Disney had axed, all for free. Unfortunately, as Kotaku reports, this revival has now also come to an abrupt end. The “official website for [the] popular clone has been seized by the City Police of London.” As you can imagine, a group of enterprising coders profiting off Mickey’s intellectual property did not exactly go down a storm, but as long as they were offering it sans ads, there wasn’t much lawyers could do. That all changed recently, and fast at that. BigChun, a moderator for the game, “suggested that it may have been the arrival of ads in Rewritten that opened it up to Disney’s legal action.” Said BigChun himself, “running a game like this costs money. Therefore ads were placed on certain parts of the game. We, or at least I, assume that’s how Disney got us.” Rookie mistake, lads.
Addressing what was once a thriving userbase numbering into the millions, the admin team released the following statement after the arrests were made: “CPRewritten is shutting down effective immediately due to a full request by Disney. We have voluntarily given control over the website to the police for them to continue their copyright investigation.” Visitors to the formerly candy-coloured homepage for the game are now met with a harsh legal message. “This site has been taken over by Operation Creative, Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU),” it reads, referencing a department within the City Police of London. This is all very harrowing stuff. Imagine if your dog died, then five years later they dug him up and shot him again in front of you. ‘Tis roughly analogous to how I’m feeling.
Per the report, the media have “reached out to both Disney and the City of London Police for a comment, but was not able to get an immediate response.” What this means for the legal proceedings surrounding the people involved with Club Penguin Rewritten, who knows? All we can hope for is that any sentencing is not overly harsh… and that another, slightly more litigiously savvy, fan revival can take the game’s place. Or hey, wild idea: how about reviving it yourselves, Disney? Spend some of that money you’re not using on the parks at the mo.
What’s your take on all this? Do you have any fond memories of Club Penguin? Let us know!