Panfu

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Panfu - Be a Panda!
Panfu-Logo.png
Publisher(s) goodbeans GmbH
Platform(s) Online
Release December 2007 (Germany)
February 2008 (UK. France, Spain, Netherlands)
April 2008 (Poland)
July 2008 (Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark)
Genre(s) MMORPG
Mode(s) Multiplayer

Panfu was a massively multiplayer online role-playing game for children aged between 6 and 13. Each player could create their own panda. With this avatar the players could chat with each other, play games, learn in a playful atmosphere and complete quests in the different places of the island of Panfu.

Panfu was shut down in November 2016 after years of decline. However, two fanmade versions of the game are currently available.

History[edit]

The two founders of goodbeans, Kay Kühne and Moritz Hohl, started Panfu in December 2007. Panfu is an artificial term composed of the words "panda" and the Chinese word for happiness, "fu".[1] In June 2009, the website had 11 million users worldwide and became the biggest children's virtual world in Europe.[2] In the meantime, according to the owners, the number of users grew to 15 million and the service was translated to 9 languages. Young Internet GmbH later Goodbeans GmbH.[3] Panfu began declining around 2013. In 2015, someone contacted one of Panfu's upper bosses, Verena Delius, who said "There isn't enough money to maintain Panfu anymore". This was explained by the rapidly declining player base. This also was indirectly the cause of the closure of the player chat. The declining player base meant less money was generated, which in turn meant that there were less staff available for Panfu, which slowly caused the chat to be shut down. This of course did not go well with the player base and it accelerated the decline of Panfu, transforming this problem into a self-defeating runaway cycle. The removal of the chat definitely was not the sole cause of the closure of Panfu but it is arguably the biggest catalyst of the decline and subsequent closure.

Finally, the game closed in November 2016 after years of heavy decline. Fan-made servers of the game have been created although they have not reached the historical popularity that Panfu once had, which correlates with the trend of loss of interest and decline of Panfu.

Security in Panfu[edit]

According to the developers, security was the biggest priority in Panfu. The chat was closed when the moderators were not online (from 20:00 to 15:00 on weekdays and from 20:00 to 11:00 on weekends). A word filter prevented verbal attacks and warned the players when they were not following the rules. At the same time, the chat was internationally moderated by adults who watched over it, proof-read every word and could ban players who aggravated others. A high security chat was available, which disabled the normal chat and let children only pick from pre-written phrases.[4] Besides verbal aggravation, asking for or giving private information was also forbidden. Users could not say the names of other games such as Club Penguin, drawing a lot of criticism. Due to the lack of moderators, the chats began to be gradually closed in the various language versions of the game (with the Polish chat ending first on March 16th 2013 and the German chat ending on January 1st 2015), which was not well received by the player base. Upon attempting to chat, players would receive a message saying that chat has been discontinued. Players were still able to say phrases from the suggested chat.[5]

The world[edit]

The player could go to different parts of the island of Panfu. Hidden all over were minigames which children could play alone or with others. The players could communicate and help each other in the quests through the moderated chat. Players obtained "panda coins" from the minigames with which the members could buy items and clothes. If you weren't a member, you could only buy backgrounds or colours. Every avatar had a tree house, which was a room that they could decorate themselves by adding furniture or even completely changing the look. Other pandas could also visit the room.

Members[edit]

The basic features of Panfu were free of charge. A "Gold Membership" was available. The membership removed the advertisements from the game and gave access to all of the game's features. The membership could be ordered for 1, 3, 6 or 12 months at a time. Every month, on a Friday, there was a "Gold Panda Day". On that day, you were given access to all of the features of the Gold Membership (such as buying clothes, furniture and pets). In 2012, Panfu introduced a feature to become a gold panda forever. This was originally a limited offer but it was available until the game closed.[6]

New Panfu sites[edit]

The official Panfu website has been closed, however, several fan-made versions of the game have been, or are in the process of being created.

References[edit]

Name Developer(s) Comments
Pannun Satoshi and Christb[7] Closed due to merger with panfu.info.
Panfu World Runs on unity, not flash. Currently in development
Panfu.me Robin Works with flash. Like the original panfu