Who doesn't love Club Penguin? Seriously. Disney Interactive's penguin-based MMO has been running since 2005, serving kids (and kids-at-heart) with an arctic world full of penguins to hang out with and play games. But now, it looks like Club Penguin is shutting down... sort of.
An official announcement shared on Club Penguin's website reveals that Club Penguin will be discontinued on March 29, 2017. In exchange, a brand new game, "Club Penguin Island," will introduce new gameplay features for the series and carry on the Club Penguin franchise proper. But the original platform will no longer be around, meaning an era in Club Penguin's legendary history is about to be closed for good.
However, Disney won't be closing down Club Penguin without a celebration. Starting February 1st, Club Penguin is throwing a party to celebrate its 11 years running. Expect cookies, punch, cupcakes, and fish sandwiches.
The Internet's Playground
Disney itself has been a player in Club Penguin's legacy for quite some time. Club Penguin was bought by the animation giant back in 2007 for $350.93 million. At the time, Club Penguin had over 11 million accounts; by 2013, that number had ballooned up to 200 million.
Since then, Disney has continued to maintain Club Penguin's family-friendly atmosphere. And while adults are welcome to hang out, the game was designed with 6 year olds to 14 year olds in mind, and moderation is strict. In particular, players can be taken out of the game for 24 hours for swearing or discussing mature content. Which is exactly why the game became popular as a spot for online trolling.
Club Penguin bans are all about seeing what sort of reaction players can receive by pushing the envelope. From swearing to obscene topics, practically anything that looks or seems not-safe-for-kids is a bannable offense. Many curse words autoban directly. And because Club Penguin's moderation team is so swift to ban, Club Penguin ban images, comics, and videos have become popular on YouTube, with sites such as the subreddit /r/bannedfromclubpenguin cataloging various reasons why people are banned.
More often than not, bans are rightly deserved for breaking the rules, but the sheer frequency of bans themselves have turned the 24 hour ban message itself into an Internet joke. And Club Penguin's innocent atmosphere has led to players making Internet videos and memes within the game, often trolling players without necessarily breaking the rules.
But why cause trouble in Club Penguin? While trolling has always been a problem in the children's MMO, the introduction of the Purple Republic turned Club Penguin trolling into a recognized phenomenon.
The Purple Republic, or PR for short, is a 4chan-based raid group that enters the game as purple penguins and trolls game servers. The group itself began in 2011, and behaves similarly to the Habbo Hotel raids of 4chan's heyday. But because Club Penguin's demographic is largely with kids and young teens, the group sees a certain appeal in causing havoc on young players. Raiders are expected to wear a miner helmet, shout "PR" when near other purple penguins, and overall watch out for each other while trolling.
And while PR isn't responsible for all the trolling that happens in Club Penguin, it's definitely the source of a lot of the interest -- and trouble. Jokes about "purple penguins" have become in-jokes referencing Club Penguin trolling, suggesting that the 4chan-affiliated group was responsible for mischievous behavior or actions seen in-game.
Will trolling continue after Club Penguin closes later this year? Most likely, yes. Club Penguin Island could potentially feature more advanced moderation capabilities than the current platform's tools, but the intensity of restrictions -- or the desire to truly keep trolling out beyond the current measure -- is still an open question. Until then, RIP to Club Penguin; make sure to visit one last time in-game.
Are you looking forward to the next installment of Club Penguin? Let us know in the comments below.