Disney to Shut Down 3 Multiplayer Online Games


When the online multiplayer video game "Pixie Hollow" came out in 2008, I almost could believe in the power of pixie dust because of how much my elementary-age kids enjoyed playing the game.

My youngsters spent hours online, playing in the make-believe world as they created fairies, played games and wrote in their "leaf journals." The first "Tinker Bell" movie was released the same year, and my kids were swept up in the popularity of the imaginary realm of tinkers, fairies and cute woodland creatures.

Now, five years later, both of my kids have moved on. My third-grade daughter spends more time at the American Girl website or others dedicated to dolphins. For my fifth-grade son, "Minecraft" has replaced the world of fireflies and dewdrops.

Save for the uniqueness of Pixar's "Toy Story" or "Cars," or Disney's classic animation era before 1960, such can be the life cycle of a popular Disney animation franchise. As kids and franchises age, dress-up dolls and real sea mammals have more appeal than preternatural spirits, and the Creeper is way cooler than Tink.

Perhaps Disney understands this. Because now, as the popularity of mobile gaming grows and Disney Infinity offers infinite promise for the company's future gaming strategy, Disney is shutting down "Pixie Hollow" and other MMOG sites "Toontown Online" and "Pirates of the Caribbean Online."

All three games will close by Sept. 19. If there's any silver lining to the announcement about the games' site closures it is that anyone now enrolled and playing the games can do so with free, unlimited features until the sites go dark for good. Details about refunds will be emailed to members later, according to information posted on all three sites.

After the three sites close, the only Disney MMOG site that will remain up and running is the "Club Penguin" online site. Disney purchased "Club Penguin" in 2007 for more than $350 million, and the virtual world remains a highly popular one today. It routinely features Disney movie and character cross-promotions and features. More than 200 million "Club Penguin" characters have been created in the virtual online world.

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