Offering Social Networking & Multiuser Online Gaming for the tween set, 8-14 years of age, Club Penguin is by far the most popular site out there. Many big players have been considered as potential suiters, but there is only one company that ever made sense to me, The Walt Disney Company. Now, the Mouse House has announced that it will buy Club Penguin lock, stock, and igloo for a cool $350 million with additional payments of up to $350 million based on performance. Check out the frontpage of Disney.com if you don’t believe me.
Club Penguin has definitely figured out what its audience wants, while providing the privacy and safety that keeps parents happy. Part of what makes it popular is that it is where all the kids that age hang out online. So as long as Disney is able to keep the next generation of tweens interested in Club Penguin then this is a great buy. But if the big neighborhood trendsetter children and their friends start hanging out on another site, then this might be another big mistake for Disney Online (although not quite as costly as Go.com).
So, let’s look at the whole picture for Disney Interactive. We have Disney.com, which has DisneyXD, Toontown online, Virtual Magic Kingdom, Hot Shot Business, and Pirates of the Caribbean (eventually). Throw in Playhouse Disney Preschool Time Online and Disney has a social network/MMORG for you from 2 years old until you’re too old to type. Don’t think this is a mistake either. It’s all part of Bob Iger’s big plan to remain relevant in the coming years as consumer media consumption shifts online.