Club Penguin is a massively multiplayer online game (MMO) involving a virtual world that contains a range of online games and activities, created by New Horizon Interactive (now known as Disney Canada Inc.) using SmartFoxServer and also one of our most popular free memberships. Players use cartoon penguin-avatars and play in a winter-set virtual world. It has since expanded into a large online community —growing to the extent that by late 2007, it was claimed that Club Penguin had over 30 million user accounts. As of July 2013, Club Penguin has over 200 million registered user accounts. Whilst the game is designed for kids aged 6 to 14, anyone of any age is able to make an account to play on, because of this, a great deal of focus is placed on ensuring the safety of their younger users, to stay true to this, there are a variety of options available, including offering an “Ultimate Safe Chat” mode, where users can select their comments from a menu; creating a filtering that prevents swearing and the revelation of personal information.
Lane Merrifield, Lance Priebe and Dave Krysko started Club Penguin in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. They wanted to build a safe social-networking site their kids could enjoy free of advertising. They financed the start-up entirely with their own credit cards and personal lines of credit and maintained 100 percent ownership. And without a marketing budget, in three years they attracted 700,000 kids around the world paying a $5.95 US a month for a subscription – and 11 million others who signed up for more limited free access.
Before working on Club Penguin, Lance Priebe had been developing Unity web-based games in his spare time. As part of Rocketsnail Games, he released Experimental Penguins in 2000, which featured a gameplay style that was similar to what was later incorporated into Club Penguin. Although Experimental Penguins went offline a year later in 2001, it was used as the inspiration for Penguin Chat, which was released shortly after Experimental Penguin’s removal. When Priebe, Merrifield and Krysko decided to go ahead with Club Penguin in 2003, they had Penguin Chat on which to base part of the design process. Penguin Chat’s third version was released in April 2005, and was used to test the client and servers of Club Penguin. Users from Penguin Chat were invited to beta test Club Penguin. The original plan was to release in 2010, but since the team had decided to fast-track the project, the first version of Club Penguin went live on October 24, 2005.
By the time Club Penguin was two years old, it had reached 3.9 million users. At the point when they were purchased by Disney, Club Penguin had 12 million accounts, of which 700,000 were paid subscribers, and were generating $40 million in annual revenue. In August 2007 they agreed to sell both Club Penguin and its parent company for the sum of $350.93 million.
Since its release, Club Penguin has expanded its target audience by releasing club penguin on both the Nintendo DS handheld console and the Nintendo Wii console. Both games feature mini games that are available to play on the site. Players on the DS version can transfer any coins they make in the mini games to their Club Penguin account. The Wii version is based off of several interactive games, some of which are 3D versions of games currently played and games which appear only at the Fall Fair (such as Puffle Paddle) on the internet game. Any point earned in the Wii game can be synchronized with the player’s browser game.
Members can have up to 45 different pets, which are known as puffles, within the game. Players travel through the game using an interactive map, during the lifetime of the game there have been over 250 accessible rooms. The player can view over fifty different catalogs which feature different themed items the player can purchase such as clothing, colors, backgrounds, flags, igloos, furniture and puffles. The buyable item Igloo is used as a place where the player can store their purchased items. The player will also encounter various different characters as they explore the world of club penguin.
Club Penguin is continuously expanding in various ways through many different mediums such as console gaming and published books for children. If anything is clear with Club Penguin, it is that they are only going to continue growing, both in popularity and size.