Arts & CultureVideo Games

Gaming Week In Review: ‘Club Penguin’ shutting down, ‘Conan Exiles’ goes Early Access

Disney has announced it will be shutting down the popular social MMO ‘Club Penguin’ after nearly 11 years of operation

Here’s something ‘90s kids will certainly remember. There’s a good chance that if you’re a gamer who grew up sometime in the last 20 years that you’ve spent your fair share of time browsing Google for “free games.” Somewhere among websites like Kongregate, Newgrounds, Neopets and the like, there’s a good chance you stumbled upon a free-to-play game called Club Penguin.

Club Penguin is a social Massively Multiplayer Online game (MMO) designed mainly as an online social experience for children and was purchased by Disney in 2007. Since then, it has had a pretty good run, being the subject of various memes, inspiration for a children’s TV show, and it even managing to carve out a niche genre in the game industry, inspiring more recent online kid’s games like Animal Jam and even Disney’s own, now defunct, Virtual Magic Kingdom.

Disney announced last week that it will officially shut down the Club Penguin servers effective March 29, 2017. This will include both the desktop and Windows versions and neither iteration of the game, nor the game’s premium membership, will be available going forward. Current premium members will keep their benefits in the coming months before the game’s final shutdown.

So if you’re looking to pop back in to see how the old iceberg is doing and get one last dose of nostalgia, this will be your last opportunity. Never fret though, future generations won’t miss out of the Club Penguin experience as Disney will be releasing a sequel known as Club Penguin Island in the months following the game’s end.

Club Penguin isn’t the only major MMO to shut down in recent memory. Asheron’s Call and its sequel Asheron’s Call 2, both shut down on Jan. 31, 2016, much to the lament of long-time MMO fans.

Keep an eye out for the Emerald’s Podcast discussion of MMOs shutting down, coming soon.

‘Conan Exiles’ hits Steam Early Access, taking the gaming community by storm in its own, moderately barbaric, way

Nobody would blame you if you’ve sworn off early access co-op crafting survival games entirely at this point, but there’s one coming around the bend that might get you to turn your head, even if just for a moment.

Chances are you’ve heard about the upcoming survival game Conan Exiles that was announced last December by Funcom, the makers of the MMO The Secret World, as well as the cult classic MMO Age of Conan and its expansions.

The game has hit early access on Steam this week and has so far been standing out among the bloated genre. Featuring an advanced physics system, dark narrative and unique gameplay elements, such as offering tributes to the gods for destructive power, the game has so far held its own when compared to more established titles such as Rust or Ark: Survival Evolved.

The game itself sees players acting as a barbarian warlord in the making. Some of the standout features include recruiting armies of NPC thralls with individual abilities, brutalizing and enslaving one’s enemies, summoning and controlling colossal creatures to destroy enemy fortresses, exploring lost civilizations and plundering ancient tombs — all in true Conan fashion.

So far, the Steam community has been pretty split on what to make of the game. Many have praised its ambition as well as the impressive level of mechanical depth displayed for an early-access game; however, others criticize the title for borrowing many elements from other games in the genre and the amount of in-game bugs contained in the launch build.

We’ll have to wait until the full launch to put out a final verdict, but for the time being it’s good to see a Conan game showing some genuine potential.


The Gaming Week In Review is a semi-regular column by Mathew Brock devoted to recapping recent news from the world of video games each week. You can follow Mathew on Twitter at @MathewQBrock.

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Mathew Brock

Mathew Brock