It might be time to log in to your Neopets account again.
Neopets, a virtual pet website that first launched in 1999, is certainly not the phenomenon it was in the early days of the internet. I have fond memories of the site – when I was a kid I remember spending hours dealing with my dog-like character Lupe – but I didn’t pay serious attention to Neopets for two decades because much of the site felt stuck in the past. A lot of Neopets‘ is straight out of 2005, many older games built on Adobe Flash no longer work, and some of the more recent attempts to revive interest, including an NFT project, feel disconnected in their own way.
The many dedicated fans who still visit the site received some promising news this week. The team behind Neopets has transformed into an independent company, is promising a “new era” for gaming, and plans to make some changes soon: a new homepage launched on Thursday, and many patched games are expected to arrive on July 25. “We’re definitely ready to go full steam ahead, and hopefully we can bring Neopets back to its glory days,” said Dominic Law, New World CEO of Neopia, Inc., in an interview with The edge.
Despite Neopets Being nearly 24 years old and long past its peak, the site still sees quite a bit of traffic: Law tells me that Neopets has “nearly a million” monthly active users, and that number “has been really consistent” over the past few years. “Our community is so strong,” he says. Even though the site has languished, there is “a really loyal fan base that has remained”.
With the new homepage, the company wants to bring Neopets “Back in a Neopets, a type of team experience for our users,” says Law. He explained how recently there have been several Neopets initiatives or projects underway at the same time, but the teams worked in silos. “At the end of the day, we’re the same IP, we’re the same brand, and we want to make sure our users experience the best part of all games under one umbrella.”
Over the next year, much of the team’s effort will go into fixing the classic Neopets site to fix basic issues like broken links. “There’s a lot of tech debt,” Law says. This includes setting up and running many older games built on Adobe Flash with the Ruffle emulator; Neopets says that more than 50 games will be playable from July 25. The team also plans to relaunch its island builders city simulator mobile game in the first quarter of next year, is working on World of Neopetsa new 3D open-world game, and will release updates for its mobile match-three puzzle game, Neopets: Hope of the Fairies.
The new homepage is live now, and in my opinion, it is much better. There are clear tabs for the classic Neopets, The Hope of the Fairies, island buildersAnd World of Neopets. There are useful “About” sectionsincluding a revamped page with details on Neopet’s real creatures. There is even a timeline of Neopets‘ history. (I forgot there was a Neopets ps2 game, The Darkest Fairy.) However, if you dig into the classic Neopets browser game, you will not see a new coat of paint; this part of the site still uses its old layout.
The new management means that Neopets goes from THE Metaverse Neopets game, and Law tells me that Web3 and blockchain technologies are “not a priority for Neopets right now.” I also asked if Neopets delves into AI, another hot topic, and although Law says that “as IPs we always want to explore new technologies”, the team has “no plans on that front”.
Right now, Neopets needs to find a way to be self-sufficient
The long-term goal of the new team behind Neopets is to “extend the IP, revive it, and let it live for another 25 years,” Law says. His personal vision is to make Neopets in a franchise that would be recognized by its own children. But in the short term, the Neopets the team must find a way “to stand on its own as a self-contained entity”. Right away, Neopets brings in money through different avenues, including Neocash virtual currency sales, generating money from advertisements on its website, and licensing revenue from its products. (Law sees a “medium” term objective in relaunching Neopets‘ licensing policy.)
I asked Law why players like me who maybe gave up should come back to Neopets. “To be honest, nostalgia is definitely a thing,” he says. He suggests coming back to say hello to your pets or play the games you may have spent time with as a kid. He acknowledges that old users probably won’t play old games like they did when they were kids, so he hopes the new Neopets the games will be interesting for returning players.