Disney has announced that its Virtual Magic Kingdom will close May 21, 2008,… for good. The VMK is no longer accepting new users, either. Disney’s VMK was launched in 2005 as a promotional tool, and turned out to be much more. About 15,000 people per day still log in and, chat, play, and explore in the VMK. The news has come as quite a shock to some, and over 10,000 people have even signed a petition asking Disney to keep it open. The shuttering of VMK, and the public response, demonstrate that even though virtual worlds and MMOGs are governed by end-user license agreements (EULAs) or Terms of Service (ToS), players inherently create a vested interest in the game, irrespective of the contractual nature of the player-provider relationship. Players make friends, create bonds, develop groups, and in some sense even come to rely on the virtual world being there the next day. So for those trying to get Disney to keep it open, I wish you luck. And when it comes to the Mouse, you’ll need it!

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