“Neopets,” the virtual pet website that gained popularity in the late 1990s and early 2000s, is making a comeback. The site, which allowed users to care for virtual pets, chat, and play games, lost its appeal over time and experienced technical issues after being acquired by Viacom in 2005 for $160 million (£122 million).
Now, Neopets is aiming for a “new era” with $4 million in funding to revamp the site and reintroduce 50 classic games on July 25th. During its peak, Neopets had 25 million users, comparable to the popularity of Tamagotchis and other virtual pets. However, by 2017, the daily user count had plummeted to just 100,000, as reported by former CEO David Lord.
Neopets was an early form of social media, fostering community interaction before the rise of Facebook and Twitter. However, much of the website relied on Adobe Flash, which is no longer supported by modern browsers and was never supported on Apple devices.
The question remains whether the promise of new funding and improved functionality will entice users to return to their neglected virtual pets. Krista, a fan who runs the Neopian Lore YouTube channel, expresses both excitement and cautiousness. In the past, Neopets has made announcements that were not followed through.
Neopets stated that a management buyout has made the website an independent business, free from the constraints of a large corporate owner. The newly united Neopets Team now has the authority to make decisions and develop the brand strategy for Neopets, focusing on enhancing the game and community experience.
The “new era” will commence with a refreshed homepage on July 20th, followed by the reintroduction of 50 classic games five days later. Neopets also plans to address and improve upon many beloved games in the future.
Krista believes that a resurgence is possible, although the user base may differ from the past. Nostalgia and a desire to relive the “glory days” are strong factors driving the popularity of reboots and revivals, offering comfort and familiarity to people.