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Disney to Shutter 10-Year-Old Toontown Multiplayer Game

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Aug. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Walt Disney Co. will close its 10-year-old Toontown Online video game and two other virtual worlds for kids, as the company’s interactive unit shifts resources toward the larger Club Penguin and to mobile games.

Toontown, in which members form teams to fight evil robots, will close on Sept. 19, according to a website announcement. The $9.95-a-month game, which Disney called the first massively multiplayer online title for kids and families, made its debut in June 2003. Pirates of the Caribbean Online and Disney Fairies Pixie Hollow will also close.

“We are shifting our development focus toward other online and mobile play experiences, such as Club Penguin and a growing selection of Disney Mobile apps,” the Burbank, California-based company said in an e-mailed statement.

The changes leave the $7.95-a-month Club Penguin as the only so-called virtual world operated by Disney. The site, acquired in 2007, is the largest of its kind, according to the company, which is asking players to move there. Club Penguin has added content tied to characters from “Star Wars” and Pixar films such as “Monsters University.” More than 200 million penguin characters have been created, Variety reported in July.

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Robert Iger has been working to shore up Disney’s interactive unit, which lost $216 million last year. This week, the company introduced its Infinity video-game system, which features collectibles including Pixar’s Buzz Lightyear and Captain Jack Sparrow from “Pirates of the Caribbean.”

Disney, the world’s largest entertainment company, fell 1.2 percent to $61.14 at the close in New York. The stock has climbed 23 percent this year, beating the 15 percent gain of the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

To contact the reporter on this story: Anthony Palazzo in Los Angeles at apalazzo@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net

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