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No more metaverse for Neopets — online gaming pioneer shuts down web3 venture after deal

No more metaverse for Neopets — online gaming pioneer shuts down web3 venture after deal
Neopets launched in 1999 and attracted millions of players with its cute avatars and flash games.
  • Website’s web3 experiment featured NFTs and a play-to-earn metaverse.
  • Decision comes after management buyout brings in big changes.
  • Neopets struggled to keep up with rapid advance of web3 innovations.

The crypto experiment at Neopets, the 24-year-old virtual pets website, is over.

On July 17, Neopets shut down Neopets Meta, the web3 version of its classic online game that featured several NFT collections and a planned play-and-earn metaverse.

The development follows a management buyout of Neopets that will bring aboard new funding from the management team and outside investors. Neopets was owned by Jumpstart, a subsidiary of Chinese online gaming giant Netdragon, which shut down on June 30.

Tough decision

Now the Neopets Meta team wants to refocus on making a playable game that’s more in line with what its community wants, and plans to launch its new site on Thursday.

“This decision was not made lightly,” said the team in a statement on Discord.

With more than 150 million players since its launch in 1999, Neopets was part of the early wave of online games and proved particularly popular with younger fans. It managed to avoid fading into irrelevance like other platforms such as Club Penguin but, by the Neopets management team’s own admission, it has struggled to keep up with the times.

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“The resources available to us simply weren’t substantial enough to sustain the level of growth and development that the site needed to keep up with the times, resulting in bugs, unconverted pages, broken games, and a lack of new content,” it said in a Medium post.

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Representatives of Neopets did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Schism between gamers and crypto

The closure of Neopets’ crypto venture highlights the schism between gamers and crypto. While funding has poured in for crypto-native games, they’ve struggled to attract players and dedicated fan bases beyond those who have invested in their tokens and NFTs.

For many gamers, blockchain-based games aren’t that appealing. They’re difficult to set up, often expensive to play, and tend to attract speculators instead of committed players.

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Some of the most hyped gaming projects in web3 have very little gameplay and are run by teams with limited experience in creating games. They sell in-game assets such as NFTs without actually having a game for them.

But most of all they’re just not that much fun.

Classic arms

Neopets’ development of a blockchain game in 2021 met with predictable backlash – even from within Netdragon. As the web3 and classic arms of Neopets were run by different teams, it appears the original team wasn’t aware of the project. It told people on social media that Neopets Meta was a scam.

Neopets fans were quick to protest the web3 project, including its popular Jellyneo forum running #noneonfts social media campaign.

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Supporters of the two versions also attacked each other online.

Fans of the crypto version accused fans of the original of “rampant bigotry and hatred,” while fans of the original version maintained a Reddit master list of “unethical and unprofessional actions” that collected screenshots of racist and homophobic comments made by Neopets Meta supporters.

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