The once-popular online game Neopets is launching a comeback.
If you didn’t spend your middle school years logging onto Neopets.com after school, whiling away valuable homework-doing hours on this absolute treasure of the nascent internet and monopolizing the family computer while tying up your home’s phone line thanks to your dial-up connection, here’s a quick synopsis:
Neopets is an online, virtual world in which users create or adopt “pets” (neopets). Users can play games to earn “neopoints,” which can be exchanged for toys, clothes and food for their neopets.
The online world is extensive; within it, users can travel the whimsical world of Neopia, meet with other players in chatrooms and play lots and lots of games. For Millennials like me — the generation that grew up alongside the advent of the internet — it was a colorful, fun introduction to the delights of the web: online communities, flash games and even rudimentary coding, as many users personalized their Neopets pages with basic HTML.
But basic is where the site stayed, changing very little since its launch in 1999 even as the internet around it evolved. In a July 17 statement published on Medium, the team behind Neopets acknowledged this: “Beset by ageing [sic] site features, a waning user base, and a lack of resources, TNT [The Neopets Team] had to work tirelessly just to barely keep the site afloat.”
Days later on July 20, TNT launched a new homepage to serve as a hub for the brand, including links to the different games and products Neopets will offer going forward. One project in the works is World of Neopets, a social life-simulation game in which users can play from the perspective of a Neopet. TNT is also pushing existing mobile games including Faerie’s Hope and Island Builders, both available on Google Play and the Apple App Store.
TNT is clearly taking this relaunch seriously, going as far as recruiting EGOT-winner John Legend to promote the brand. He and his family are longtime fans of the game, per his recent post to Twitter:
Excited to announce that I'm the new brand ambassador for @Neopets! My family and I have been long time fans of the game, and I can’t wait for you to experience it too. Looking forward to more adventures together! pic.twitter.com/c7umXvzjZ0
— John Legend (@johnlegend) July 22, 2023
Neopets peaked in the mid-2000s with 25 million users; of late, the site sees just under a million monthly users, per new CEO Dominic Law in an interview with The Verge. Some of those users are excited about the brand’s potential comeback, per comments on the official announcement video below.
“I’m so hyped!!!!!!!” wrote commenter Jackie Johnson, “I’ve been a proud Neopian since early elementary school and I’m 28 now. It’s been really sad to see the decay of a site that I’ve loved nearly my whole life. This sounds like an incredible step in the right direction to restoring the things we once loved and the things that made us fall in love with the site in the first place.”