Club Penguin, the Disney-owned social network for kids, announced this morning its shutting down. In its place, the company will launch a new product for mobile, Club Penguin Island, which has been in development over the past several years. Club Penguin Island will launch in March, while the Club Penguin game on the desktop and mobile devices will shut down on March 29, 2017.
The closure is a bittersweet milestone for a certain generation those who grew up with computers and the internet, and learned to socialize online through Club Penguins virtual world.
Startedin 2005, the site featured avatars of animated penguins (hence the name), that lived in its onlineworld. Users could play games, chat, and build their home with virtual accessories. The company sold to Disney in 2007, in a deal that then valued the business at $700 million. At the time, it had over 12 million users. By 2013, that number had grown to 200 million, though theres some indication that visitors have been on the decline.
According to one traffic measurement source, SimilarWeb, the site saw 5.6million visitors as of December, 2016 and that figure was down from 7.4 million in July, 2016. The U.S., however, was still the primarily source of that traffic, driving over a quarter of the total visits to the site.
Meanwhile, on mobile, the iOS app had dropped to #595 in the Games category, and had consistently been ranked in the 400s or 500s, with an occasional bounce into the 300s, over the past couple of years, as well.
The problem for Club Penguin, which was aimed at younger children and tweens primarily, is that there are nowso many apps vying for kids attention. Even if theyre not lying about their age in order to join sites like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, there are other places for kids to engage online, including YouTube, Nickelodeons properties, PBS Kids, and elsewhere. Plus, there are app stores filled with games to divert kidsattention.
The new site, Club Penguin Island, will look to recapture kids interest, with a modern-day take on the original virtual world,but ones that focused on mobile. Though related, Club Penguin Island is its own, standalone app players cant bring items or coins from the old site to the new one. Their Club Penguin membership will also not transfer over to the new property.
Club Penguin was a significant online property, which led to the development of fan sites, wikis, and other online communities for its players over the years. However, it was more recently in the news for being home to an online anti-Trump protest from elementary schoolers a notable reminder that todays political upheaval is being felt even by the youngest in the U.S.
Club Penguin Island is currently offering pre-registration, so kids can reserve their new penguins name in advance of its March release.