Penguin Club was a hugely popular children’s MMO that was eventually acquired (and later closed down) by Disney. However, it has not stopped popular clones from brings together millions of users. Now the official website of the most popular clone, Club Penguin rewritten, has been seized by City Police in London. In addition, three people associated with the project were arrested, although they have reportedly been released from today.
First launched in 2005 and acquired by Disney in 2007, Penguin Club was an online MMO aimed at young children set in a cartoon-like world of anthropomorphic penguins. The closure of the game in 2017 has been followed by several unauthorized restorations on private servers, including Club Penguin rewritten, a popular remake that was first launched the same year the official game was shut down. Now Disney has forced the closure off Rewritten as well. As reported by TechCrunchabout what was once a thriving Discord for Rewritten community, only one post, written by an administrator, is now left. It reads, “The CPRewritten is closing with immediate effect due to a full request from Disney. We have voluntarily given control of the website to the police so that they can continue their copyright investigation.”
Club Penguin rewritten had 10 million users during its course. The official website of the fateful game where so many cartoon penguins once frolic is now home to nothing but a short statement, white text on a crisp black background. It sounds: “This site has been taken over by Operation Creative, Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU),” referring to a department of the City Police in London. According to one police statement given to one Penguin Club fansite, three people were arrested on April 12 for “distribution of material that infringes copyright.” They reportedly have it been released. Kotaku contacted both Disney and the City of London Police for a comment but could not get an immediate response.
Talking to GizmodoBigChun, a moderator of the game, suggested that it may have been the arrival of ads Rewritten that opened up the Disney lawsuit. Said BigChun: “Running a game like this costs money. That’s why ads were placed on certain parts of the game. We, or at least I, assume that was how Disney got us.” Gizmodo notes that the site has been generating advertising revenue since the summer of 2020.
However, Rewritten players were not deterred at the end of Penguin Club the world as they knew it. Many users stayed on the doomed website until their avatars were removed from existence. Though touching, their desperate prayers would not be answered by a merciful God.
This was not the first time that Disney has taken down an unofficial Penguin Club website. In April 2020, Club Penguin online was closed for violations of copyright laws and for allegations of criminal activity among gamblers. ONE BBC investigation revealed that minors on the website were exposed to racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic messages.