Private servers are a sore point in the games industry. Many MMOs, especially ones that disappear, end up being cloned. These clones are usually a way for people who miss a particular game to keep playing it after official support ends. Such is the case with Club Penguin.
It was a child-friendly MMO originally produced by New Horizon Interactive. Disney bought out the game in 2007, leading it from strength-to-strength. By the time it died in 2018 it was one of the most well-known kids MMOs on the internet.
Now people are trying to bring it back, but Disney are shutting them down. But for once it’s actually for a pretty good reason.
As with almost any private server clone of a game, the operators made changes to the original Club Penguin. Unlike the regular version, sites like Club Penguin Online had no profanity filter.
What this means is that a kid-friendly MMO was filled with swearing, racism, and sexual language. Bear in mind, that this game is literally aimed at children. Those colorful cartoon graphics attract children, especially ones who used to play the real game before it shut down.
It doesn’t stop there either. One man involved in the site has even been arrested for possessing “child abuse images”, according to the BBC. Which is just what you want from someone running a version of Club Penguin.
The Club Penguin situation demonstrated the big issue with private server clones. Because the original creators have no control, these clones can really harm their brand.
Disney wanting to shut down these servers is understandable. They cannot have their kid-centric brand associated with child abuse.
From the perspective of fan thought, it is understandably frustrating. It’s not like these games take money away from the originals. At least that’s not the case with clones of defunct MMOs.
As with anything, the situation surrounding Club Penguin becomes more complicated because it involves young children.
Even if there are versions of Club Penguin out there that don’t have profanity or sexual problems, they’re probably going to go down at some point.
Disney is a company with an excellent grip over its intellectual property. Which does have the tendency to feel a little ‘taking my ball and going home’.
It’s tempting to take the side of the fan game in a situation like this shutdown. But, clearly, there are some pretty good reasons for a company not wanting to lose control over their IP. Even if Disney never revives Club Penguin, it’s better than it becoming a den of filth and abuse.