Neopets, the classic social game, will be coming to mobile as TNT (The Neopets Team) goes independent.
As revealed on the Neopets blog, the team is now focusing on new development for the title. Previously managed by Jumpstart, a NetDragon subsidiary, Neopets has been running at a loss for more than a decade as the once popular game that allows players to own colourful digital animals fell into disuse and suffered from lack of support and development. However, thanks to a new leadership team headed by longtime fan Dominic Law, TNT - now independent - has raised $4m to begin revitalising and modernising the ageing title, including transitioning minigames to HTML5 (as they originally ran on the now defunct Flash) as well as creating a new mobile game centred around the Neopets themselves.
NetDragon acquired Jumpstart in 2017, with the intent of leveraging the company’s connection to Dreamworks IP. This deal also brought them Neopets, which at the time had around 100,000 users, a significant decline in its peak but reflecting a loyal fanbase. The game continued to see jumps in interest, including during the pandemic where a fourty to thirty percent user spike was seen, however ill-advised attempts to break into the metaverse didn’t resonate with users, and the player base continued to decline.
As of June 2023 Jumpstart itself has shut down, leaving Neopets as the last man standing from the original deal. Neopets, it seems, is set for a resurgence as the company announced, “The Neopets Team is, for the first time in over a decade, equipped to make meaningful changes in pursuit of a Neopian renaissance.”
Dumping the metaverse and going old school
Aside from the aforementioned focus on new development, bug fixes and porting much of the ageing site structure to newer tools, Neopets have also confirmed their new mobile game “World of Neopets” will function as a spin-off from Neopets Metaverse, devoid of the Web3 and NFT focus of that version and playing as its own standalone game. Although Neopets seemed a prime candidate for the type of blockchain activity many crypto-evangelists advocated, the change was received negatively by press and users alike.
As much as it may be a cliche it seems to be a “back to basics” moment for the beloved title. As the newly independent TNT now turns its attention back to their original site and, crucially, to the mobile platform. According to the Neopets team they’ve already seen an 80% reduction in their customer support ticket backlog, signalling these changes are already having an effect. TNT have also confirmed that they will be focusing on fixing mobile browser compatibility for the web title, so while metaverse is out it seems that mobile is very firmly in.