Captain Crawfish is back with a new video walkthrough for the newest island release, Greek Sea Odyssey—complete with sass and sarcasm!
We’ve also got a written Greek Sea Odyssey guide here on the PHB, and it’s got more than just walkthroughs—we even have trivia and museum info.
But back to that video… well, we’ve got some news. If you watch all the way to the end, at around the 15:55 mark, Captain Crawfish (who we know is voiced by Mitch Krpata) makes an unusual closing statement that’s rather sentimental:
Friends, Poptropicans — I’m Captain Crawfish. It has been the privilege of my life to bring you Poptropica over the last ten years. I love you!
Although it’s very subtle here, other sources show us that the Captain, aka Mitch Krpata, has parted ways with Poptropica, after ten years of service. Shocked? So are we.
Mitch Krpata, in case you’re not familiar, is a senior story developer and narrative designer for Poptropica, and author of three of the Poptropica graphic novels (The Lost Expedition, The Secret Society, and The End of Time).
The same day the Greek Sea Odyssey video came out, Krpata tweeted:
He’s also updated his LinkedIn page to show that he no longer works for StoryArc Media, Poptropica’s parent company:
And he’s not the only one.
Nate Greenwall, who went under the alias Shark Guy (formerly Shark Boy), and was the inventor of beloved Poptropica icon Dr. Hare, also put out this tweet about working for Poptropica, in past tense:
Greenwall also had a few tips to share about his experience doing game design for a younger audience (or any age, really):
And we know of one more who’s gone: Lance Fry, a senior artist at Poptropica. You may be familiar with some of the work he’s done, featured here in this Pop Portfolio.
Well, his LinkedIn page indicates this was also his last month with StoryArc Media, and Fry has been tweeting about looking for full-time work, too.
We also haven’t heard from Creators Dave and Stephanie in a while, either, suggesting that they may not be around either—though there isn’t any solid evidence on this yet.
The PHB reached out to Krpata for comment, and he confirmed that he and several others were let go this week. He also adds: “I’m so proud of the work we did and I can’t tell you how much your support mattered. Whatever Poptropica’s future, I’ll always be proud to have been a part of it.”
And Greenwall gave the PHB a shout-out:
So, why did this happen?
One thing to consider is the dwindling popularity of the game. It’s no secret Poptropica isn’t as popular as it once was. Krpata even stated this himself in an interview on The Oddball Show, which we covered here on the PHB.
As far as numbers go, Mitch reports that there are well over 500 million avatars created, and over 100 million players. However, he also says the game is “definitely not as cool now as it was before.” If you go to a school now and ask, “who knows Poptropica?” you might get about a dozen or so hands raised. But at the peak of Poptropica’s popularity, in 2010, every kid would be raising their hand – it was, for that while, the biggest site in the world for kids.
When companies become less popular, there is less of a need for a large number of employees to work for them, since the demand to produce content isn’t as high. This means that they’ll have to let some employees go. Poptropica is no exception.
This leads us to an even bigger question: What does this say about how Poptropica is doing financially?
When a company lets employees go, it usually indicates that they cannot afford to keep them around. It’s especially telling that these guys—Krpata, Greenwall, and Fry—all had senior positions, years of experience (a whole decade, even), and did not seem to want to be let go (the job searching indicates that it wasn’t like they had planned to move on elsewhere). We can’t confirm financial motivations, but we can speculate…
The fact that StoryArc Media chose to drop some of their most valuable team members (as opposed to those less experienced, if there were any) is pretty alarming. It could be that they had to make budget cuts because they couldn’t pay their best workers the salaries they deserved, or perhaps they had a falling out with the higher-ups that we don’t know about. Whatever the case may be, we’re sorry to see them go.
Update: Mitch Krpata published a blog post on his website about his current unemployment that offers some more insight into the incident, saying:
On Monday, I was informed that my position was being eliminated. Here I am.
Read more: The future, great and terrible.
– Lucky Joker 🍀