Media & Entertainment

Disney just launched the new mobile-only version of Club Penguin

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Club Penguin Island, the mobile-only replacement for the original Club Penguin (which shut down last night) has launched.

Started in 2005, Club Penguin was one of the first successful virtual worlds for children and, as they grew up, teens and adults. At its peak the platform had 200M users, and a few months ago was still seeing upwards of 5M visitors to the Club Penguin website each month. The game was bought by Disney in 2007 in a deal valued at $700M.

While Club Penguin launched a mobile app a few years ago, it was essentially just a port of the desktop version – it was still 2D and wasn’t really optimized for mobile.

The version launching today is a total rebuild of the game, featuring 3D graphics, which is a first for the franchise. As someone who played the old 2D Club Penguin more than a decade ago, it was great to see how the brand was able to implement an engaging 3D environment while still maintaining the old look and feel of Club Penguin.

The new version also adds things like quests and the ability to design your own clothing – things that have been common in MMORPGs for a while, but notably absent from Club Penguin.

It’s also mobile-only, at least for now.  This could lead to at least a temporary drop in engagement for Disney, because the old Club Penguin was seeing a 50-50 split in terms of users coming from desktop and mobile. Disney has indicated they may consider launching a desktop version in the future.

The game is free to play, but also has a paid version for $4.99 per month. This paid tier gives users access to quests and other features like the ability to use a zip line to get across the island.

Since the old Club Penguin was totally shut down last night, every new player on Club Penguin Island will start at the same level. This means that even if you spent the last 10 years amassing coins and virtual items in Club Penguin you’re going to have to start over again today.

While this will frustrate some hard-core Club Penguin fans, Disney explained that the new structure of gameplay means it would be weird to bring over gear and coins from the old game. A total refresh will also now give younger players a chance to get involved in Club Penguin without feeling that they will never be able to catch up with veteran users.

You can download Club Penguin Island on the iOS App Store and Google Play Store now.

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