Pirates Online Players Plead with Disney to keep sailing the Caribbean

Revive POTCO is an organization petitioning Disney's DIMG division for the company to re-energize the long-standing MMORPG title.

A fan petition once saved a famous vampire slayer from TV cancellation. While other grassroots attempts may not have been so successful, this isn’t stopping a band of online Caribbean pirates.

The website http://revivepotco.org/ recently reached 2400 signatures as part of its message to Disney's Interactive Media Group (DIMG), urging them to continue development and support for the long-running online role-playing game.

Pirate History

Pirates of the Caribbean is a long-standing Disney franchise. As part of the original Disneyland theme park, it was a thrilling water ride through the rowdy Port Royal under pirate siege. It was and still is a family favorite for decades in several Disney parks.

In 2003, as part of a series of films based on their attractions, Disney co-produced the film Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl with Bruckheimer Films. Three more films followed, grossing $3.7 billion at the box office and more than $1 billion in video sales worldwide. Two more films are slated for production.

Pirates Online Logo

During the parallel production of the second and third films, Disney's Interactive Studios developed an MMORPG (Massive Multi-Player Online Role-Playing Game) based on the films - Pirates Online. In the game, players create their own pirate character and interact with characters from the film as well as new characters and a new story set in the Pirates universe.

However, the game was delayed numerous times. The original target date was in 2006 to coincide with Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. It also missed a target of May 2007 for the release of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. Despite setbacks, the game was officially released on October 31, 2007.

Pirate ShipPirates Online was not geared toward the older, hard-core gamer that other MMORPG’s like World of Warcraft were targeting. But, it did offer detailed character development, land and sea combat, an extensive world to explore and quests to complete that required longer playtime - which in the end, did attract an older audience. Though garnering an E-10 rating and marketed more directly to younger players, the game was and still is being played by older kids, teens and many adults. This, coupled with the very popular source material, initially gathered a sizable following.

"You're dead if you aim only for kids. Adults are only kids grown up, anyway." - Walt Disney

Once the third film had finished its run in theaters, players noticed a change in the game's development. Despite having nearly half-a-million players worldwide at it’s peak, there were longer periods between updates and often only minimal improvements.

The single largest deficit was a continuation of the main story quest. After players had finished Chapter 1: The Black Pearl, there were no follow-up chapters. There are plenty of signs and indicators that such chapters were planned, but never implemented. Part of that initial problem appears to involve the Kraken, but was not completed. There is some archived video showing the Kraken boss level being play tested, but was never added.

However, the player community seemed to grow closer. The game spawned numerous fan sites, online organizations and even a fan-made Pirates Online Wikia. After celebrating its five-year anniversary, the Caribbean appeared to be at a crossroads.

Following several years of financial disappointment, Disney's Interactive Media Group appeared to have changed focus. The lackluster response to World of Cars, another MMORPG which later closed, was one of the first casualties. Development for Toontown was also curtailed by this point, though Pixie Hollow and Pirates Online remained active.

As part of this re-direction, Disney then purchased Club Penguin; likely again to focus on younger players. Also, Disney began developing social networking games and cut development for home video game platforms (X-Box 360, Wii and Playstation). This cutback included canceling titles such as Pirates of the Caribbean: Armada of the Damned.

This shift of resources and attention meant a radical reduction of development and tech support for their Online Worlds, including Pirates Online (this meant closing its Online Help and drastically reducing dedicated phone support to only 4 hours).

The last major update to the game was December 2011.

Pirates TavernThe number of paying players steadily decreased, but thousands of players remained; mostly due to the social aspects of the game. Some areas in-game serve as social hot spots for players to interact. The Pirates Online offsite community still continues as well; including numerous fan and forum sites. A number of Facebook pages are dedicated to the game or a particular pirate guild. Players have even taken it upon themselves to create in-game activities to keep themselves entertained.

Revive Launches

On July 29, 2012 a group of players created the Revive POTCO movement as a way to convey their concerns, but also show their support for a game they truly love. And they are not alone. As of now, the petition has over 2,400 signatures. In the scheme of things, 2400 players is a fraction of the once half-million players (currently less than 100,000) but they represent the most dedicated and also importantly, the paying membership.

The estimated $250,000+ in revenue they represent is only a portion of the DIMG's budget, but it should be taken into consideration that the game also serves as an active promotional tool for the Pirates films at the box office and on home video. The franchise is currently worth nearly $5 billion dollars and growing.

The petition was intended to show Disney's DIMG division that there is still profitability supporting the community still playing Pirates Online. The games untapped potential for expansion is quite glaring. They only want the game to continue, but are asking for some issues to be addressed. These issues include:

Performance improvements: Game server and/or software repairs to improve game performance, particularly long lags and freezes that often end in disconnection, removing bugs and glitches as well as improving communication/follow-up for reporting problems. Also, appropriate time for testing prior to public release. This may require an radical update similar to the shift away from Panda 3D game engine in 2009.

Content improvements: One major concern and leading cause of dwindling membership as been the lack of new game content (items, locations, events, skills, item trading, new and more difficult enemies, etc. but most importantly - new quests or continuation of the original quest.) Once a pirate has rescued the Black Pearl, visited Raven's Cove and mastered Privateering (Player Ship Combat), there are no new directions to go. The shift to mini-games occurred after a management change, but has not been the direction players were hoping for.

Security improvements: Elimination or minimizing of in-game hacking and third-party programs, particularly Python Injector (which it's own developer said should NOT affect game play if the game is properly secured).

Customer Support: Reinstating Live chat and expanding telephone support, having increased availability to help, and the return of retail game membership cards.

Activity improvements: At one time, developers hosted regular role-playing events that created a continuing plotline to involve players and keep them engaged. Such activities do not require additional programming or resources, just some organization and man hours but their affect on the game has been profound.

A Better Horizon?

Over the past few months, there are some hopeful signs for Pirates players. Recently, a handful of updates were quietly implemented that seems to have addressed some security issues. Customer support response time has improved. Also, a number of players have recently reported receiving access to play on the game's test server. In the past, a surge in new play testers has preceded new game development.

Be a Part of the Movement

Even with these new indicators, the petitioners still encourage players of Pirates Online to visit http://revivepotco.org/ and add your pirate's name to let your voice be heard. Player names are kept anonymous and email confirmation prevents misrepresentation.

For the developers and designers at Disney's Interactive Media Group, the petitioners hope you take the time to review the complete petition, understand the message and continue to support a product the signers very much enjoyed and want to continue to enjoy. 

Contributor

Amazon, Pirate and Gator 'Rassler who once terrorized the seas aboard her frigate The Crimson Widow. Now, sailing the stars in Star Wars: The Old Republic, swinging a massive warhammer in Guild Wars 2, or slinging a S.A.W. in Defiance. Eagerly awaiting Legends of Pirates Online and Sea of Thieves to once again hoist her colours high.

Platforms PCMac Tags pirates online
Published Mar. 11th 2013
  • Sara_3208
    My name was Captain starlight mist, guild master of starlight pirates, 300 strong.I really enjoyed the time we had together, my guild was my family, we were all there for each other and had an amazing adventure, we are willing to pay more for the game to stay on, we are all dedicated to disney and potco. We hope you consider our feeling's about this matter. We were loyal to you, you should show us the same loyalty in return,
  • Capt. Eliza Creststeel
    Contributor
    Over the last year, several projects have popped up trying to revive POTCO. You can see some videos on Youtube of their progress.

    Several have working islands but the big hurtles of creating a full blown MMO still remain. But, if there's a big break through I will post something about it.
  • Kelly O'Kidd
    Great news everyone. The game is coming back thanks to some committed fans of the game. I've seen many attempts of groups trying to emulate the game with no success. Finally the group that was Pirates Online Rewritten merged with Legend of Pirates Online (TLOPO) and from what I've seen with their videos showing their progress so far the game is coming close to be ready to play! They are starting closed alpha in the next 2 months, then closed Beta in the fall. Game will be free to play for unlimited access. Here's the link to the forums for the game. Spread the word everyone! Our beloved potco is coming back!!! :)
    http://legendofpirates.boards.net/ Hope it's ok that I included the link. If not, then I can remove it and just tell you to search Legends of Pirates online and the site should pop up.
  • block508
    I hate how they closed this game. I mean, they could of atleast made it singleplayer cause then soon enough someone would take it into their own hands to make a mod that makes the game be able to play multiplayer. Or they could've just let the community take control of it. i wish later in lif ei have so much money and then use files still in my computer from the game and start the game back up.
  • Anthony_2193
    Wow... I never thought Disney would close this game. I haven't played for a long time but I still remember playing POTCO with my cousins. I never finished the game, but I wish I could. My favorite games of all time go like this; 1 WOW, 2 POTCO, 3 WOT, 4 Runescape, 5 WarThunder. If Disney could turn POTCO into a online multiplayer version of Assassins Creed, that would be the best game ever.
  • Liz Hexcrash
    I miss this game sooooooooooooooo much!!!!!!!
  • hollowmic
    Oh and my name was hollowmic ....me and notorous jeff were the leaders of the "guild of skilled" :, ( I miss this game sooo bad...
  • hollowmic
    This was by far the greatsest game ever!!!! I'm sooo mad @ disney for ruining the greastest game ever! Rumor is disney reasled the game to old players and they are currently remaking it yet not sure whenit will be released....its called pirates of the carabean rewritten
  • michaelsmasho
    Just sitting around on this snowy day and started talking about "POTCO" wow!!! We MISS the game so much! We had two accounts my bro had two pirates, I had six. I was do addicted to the game and everything about it. After mastering three pirates I had the second account setup to make more pirates.Met so many people, build so many friendships. We want this back so BAD! Their is no other online game like POTCO! Little bro finally got to level 50 and down went the game :/ Even with all the issues and lag it was still the best, An escape into awesomeness!!!
  • kyle_8140
    COME ON PEOPLE KEEP UP ALL OF THIS HATE CAUSE THEY SHUT IT DOWN AND IF WE KEEP HATING ON THEM THEY WILL MOST LIKELY PUT BACK UP SO KEEP HATING!!!!!!
  • kyle_8140
    Disney put pirates back up look at all the people that want it up you will most likely get a bunch of money
  • kyle_8140
    No please bring back pirates please disney! My childhood memories are gone cause this game is gone!
  • TAYTE HANK
    you guys are dickhead Disney you all are retarted im 18 I went to a place that had no internet and I came back 3 weeks ago and to find out that you shut it off way to go guys you have mad mulitipul people mad and upset I sit and read all the comments almost every day to see if anyone wants to talk about good times we all had on P.O.T.C.O but you had to shut it off because of your own greed and that's messed up I played all night I would go to my grandparents just to play it and I would get so tyred that I would pass out on the floor in my house but you sit there and make excusses about how money is bad and how updates are bad who cares the game was fun as hell it was an awesome expieriance for me I hate fucking video games no offence to you guys that love video games im glad you have a hobby keep playing what ever you want don't let anyone stop you but Disney all I have to say is you guys made people very upset with your greedy dicision and you should put it back up online you would get a lot of thank you s for it even know you made people very upset these people that played a lot had a lot of fun and I bet the people that were almost close to winning the game were pissed but I bet if you put it back up on the air a lot of people would be happy



    sincerely ELIZIBETH DAGGERMORRIS
  • Capt. Eliza Creststeel
    Contributor
    - Luv, the game closed over a year ago. And many people tried very hard to save it or revive it.
  • Marcy_1365
    One of my relatives work for Disney. I will try and see what he can do.
  • Capt. Eliza Creststeel
    Contributor
    - it's been a year. Disney shut down all their inhouse gaming development. It's all licensed outside now.
  • Bill whalepaigne
    im so mad i don't even care about grammar
  • Bill whalepaigne
    SINCE THE DAY HEY TOOK PIRATES DOWN I HAVE BEEN IN TOTAl SHOCK. AND I AM FURIOUS! FURIOUS WITH DISNEY. ALL THE CARE ABOUT IS MONEY THEY DON'T CARE ABOUT ANYTHING ELSE. i tell u guys disney is become corrupt and that is for sure. their plan is to get their hands on a new game keep for like 5 years then throw it away. IF U WORK FOR DISNEY AND UR LOOKIING AT THIS THIS WAS MY FAVORITE GAMEAND U TOOK IT AWAY FROOM ME! WELL SCREW U DISNEY I HATE U! I HOPE WHEN THE COMPANY FALLS U GO TO HELL. From Bill Whalepaigne
  • EmilyBlueEagle
    I am A long time member os POTC.. and I went online to try and play it only to find that the game has been cancled and Taken offline, I would Like a Straightforward reason as to why....
  • Capt. Eliza Creststeel
    Contributor
    - Luv, the game shut down about 11 months ago. It was primarily due to Disney shedding ALL of their in-house game divisions. All Disney games are now contracted out. So, Pirates, Pixies and Toontown all shut down. All three games though were on very old graphic engines and likely aging servers as well. The declining customer numbers stemmed from lack of new content, upgrades to existing content and security flaws that hacks exploited.

    But, Disney Interactive was losing money for years. They also shut down LucasArts gaming almost as soon as they bought it. Any game with a Disney name was made outside of their company.
  • Dark Huntress
    I love POTC its the only game that I can enjoy with my kids, they are special needs kids with Autism and this game teaches them how to operate with in a group to stratigize and plot, as well as follow the rules. It provides structure,builds confidence as well as teaches them what respect and honor are all about. And teaches them team work, as well as a great way for family fun and friend ship. If Disney can give the public the Tinker Bell Fairies game then why cant we have the right to keep playing Our Favorite PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN ISLES OF WAR game? I mean come on the Boys got to have a father son game to play too it cant just be games for girls to enjoy you know!!!
  • Capt. Eliza Creststeel
    Contributor
    - Playdom, who operates Isles of War, seems to be making a number of changes to their products.
  • David Yellow-Pratt
    Haven't played POTCO in awhile, but I still love the game. Just recently I was trying to get my family to play with me again, but when I went to try to download it tit was gone. A lot of researching lead me here. I am glad I found this site and I wish for Disney too bring POTCO back.
  • Simon Pondswain
    Potco I can't believe this happened im am still so sad and my childhood memories were ruined i feel like nothing can complete my life except for that game
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