Club Penguin Island's Fatal Flaw

Club Penguin Island is Disney's newest mobile virtual world for kids, based off of the massively-successful Club Penguin. Of course, if you're reading this, you already know what Club Penguin is. If you haven't read my Club Penguin Island review yet, be sure to do so as I won't be cover anything that I've already discussed there. 

Club Penguin has been available to the public for nearly three months now. The game's showing signs of growth- new areas have been added like Mt. Blizzard, new items and quests are being added, and the game receives decorations every once in a while to celebrate upcoming Disney media or global events. That's all fine and good- the game is not updating that quickly, but the amount of content the game has doesn't feel lacking- at least not this relatively early in the game's lifespan. Of course fans are still clamoring for puffles and igloos to return, and while I feel they should've been there since launch, it's understandable for the time being.

Club Penguin Island is still doing well enough. But, the community is growing bored of the game already- and I don't think it's because of the puffles, igloos, or even lack quests. Like I've emphasized before, there's plenty to do on Club Penguin Island for all players. But of course the main draw of the game is to collect items and customize clothing- which is difficult to do for a number of reasons.

Let's say you've bought yourself a Club Penguin Island membership. You're so excited to get into the meat of the content- you rush to the clothing designer to start designing your new clothes- only to discover that you've just unlocked the basic set of decals, patterns, and clothing items. To unlock more, you're going to have to level up. So, you go to Aunt Arctic or Rockhopper and do their quests, and you think to yourself "Man, this is actually quite cool. I would be okay if this was the whole game."

...and then you remember you're playing Club Penguin Island.

You complete Rockhopper or Aunt Arctic's quests, unlock your new items. Right before you start the next one you realize that the quest is locked. As it turns out, you must level up to play more quests as well. So you start doing your daily challenges. Use an emoji here, sit in a chair there, share a food item- it's simple and easy, hardly deserving of the name "challenges". You level up, get new items, have some fun experimenting in the clothing designer with your new patterns, and then you repeat the process to unlock more.

The quests are fun, the characters are quirky, the puzzles are challenging enough, and the rewards you get for completing the quests feel earned. But then you complete the available quests- and find yourself starring at another barrier until you level up again. So you do more daily challenges. Rinse and repeat for every level, but the gap between level to level only increases.

When you get over level 13, the gap between levels is tremendously long.

The only way to level up after you complete every unlocked quest is to do daily challenges. As you might expect after playing any game long enough, they quickly gets repetitive and barely adds a sliver of experience points most of the time. At most less than 5 quests are offered a day, and that's only if you've leveled up enough to unlock the ability to complete that daily challenge, which adds an additional barrier to new players.

This problem will hopefully be solved as more quests are added, but it's a double edged sword. As new quests have been added, new penguin levels have also been added, and with that, more clothing, emoji, tubes, patterns, etc. that can only be obtained by reaching that level. This form of locking content away to be obtained with levels, even with a paying membership, seems unjustified. Level 1 members who are paying the exact same price as a Level 20 member gets severely less content.

 But, you might argue, that this is the way it has always been. Club Penguin had the same type of membership. If you've been around long enough, you of course have more. But because the items changed every month and members gained exclusive features, you would gain additional content without feeling like you have to grind for it- and the features would come to you, because that's the way premium services should work, and RocketSnail and New Horizons knew this. Not to mention the things to do were actually... fun. It was not only a premium service worth paying for, it was enjoyable collecting coins to buy the items.

 In Club Penguin Island, collecting coins is not enjoyable. Like I've mentioned in my original Club Penguin Island review, it takes forever to get coins- and the only way to do so is by collecting various objects around the island. (Side note: The process should slightly be easier with the addition of Mt. Blizzard in version 1.3 and it's seemingly endless supply of icicle collectibles)

Yet, with how long the gap is between penguin levels (keep in mind, you have to wait for the daily challenges to refresh at midnight, and that is the ONLY way to earn experience to level up), you quickly grow tired of your earned clothing blueprints and patterns because there's only so many combinations of clothes, patterns and decals until you've about seen them all.

With that, you stop finding reasons to use your collected coins because you've about made every item you can possibly want to purchase using your unlocked assets. So you fall out of collecting the scattered items, because it's going to take forever to get to level 18 unless you're very dedicated. And you fail to get excited about any new level and quest updates because that would mean you've been able to climb to the final level before the newest ones.

Your enjoyment fades. Although you've paid the proper price for your Club Penguin Island membership, you feel like content is locked behind even more hurdles. There's no point to continue, it's not fun and it's not enjoyable, only tedious collectible grinding and a waiting game. And so, this is where most people delete the app. A potential consumer lost.

The scenario I just described happened to most of the Club Penguin Island community in it's first weeks. As I noticed many Club Penguin players were excited to move to Club Penguin Island, but then noticed as time went on those same players quit after only a month of Club Penguin Island's launch. Most players credited this to being because they were "too old for the game", but I don't think that was ever the case. After all, most of the community are in their early to late teens but played Club Penguin, a game Disney claimed was intended for children aged 7-12.

Club Penguin Island will not succeed if it continues this system of collectable grinding and waiting games. Even paying members have to sit and wait to earn experience points each day, doing repetitive tasks, over and over again, until a quest is finally unlocked, level up- and then repeat the process.

Most of your time on Club Penguin Island is not customizing clothing nor going on quests- no, it is doing the daily grind until you can get your 5-minutes of fun out of a quest it took a month to unlock. 

That is, in my opinion, Club Penguin Island's FATAL flaw.
Club Penguin Island needs to change now before it's too late.
Your move, Club Penguin Team and Disney. Please make the right one.

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