In less than a month Disney Interactive will pull the plug on three of its MMORPG online virtual worlds. Pixie Hollow, Pirates of the Caribbean Online, and Toontown Online will all close for good on September 19, 2013. If you have an account you can log on and play for free between now and then for one last hurrah.
Although there’s been no official statement from Disney about guest participation, the general feeling is that traffic has been decreasing significantly from the highs they once enjoyed. It’s also important to note that Disney has also changed its video game strategy. They’re now attempting to switch to a licensing model instead of developing the game in-house.
Disney will also be focusing on Club Penguin online virtual world, which is not only a game, it’s the biggest social network for kids with over 150 million accounts. Of course, it’s not based on any Disney property and not really targeted at tweens and teens. There’s definitely an unserved market there.
The lesson Disney wants its fans to learn is apparently don’t get invested in any online game we make, we’re just going to close it and break your heart eventually. Like all love affairs, the question becomes is it better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all? Ask the fans of Virtual Magic Kingdom (VMK) who all these years later are still pining for the return of their fabulous world. Now ToonTown, Pixie Hollow and Pirates will have their own legions of fans who feel like they’ve lost a part of their (virtual) selves.
There has to be a better way. Any ideas?