Before Pokémon, there were Neopets. But then again, you need to be old enough to know about Neopets.
Ask anyone who has played Neopets in the past and their first response would definitely be this: “I haven’t fed my pets for many years.”
Neopets used to be so popular that despite us having only 30 hours of Internet a month then, we spent 20 hours of those precious hours on Neopets.
Started in late 1999 and gaining massive users in 2000, they called it a “sticky” website, which meant that it managed to keep people in the website for very long.
Actually, to be exact, it was 117 minutes a week during May and June 2001.
For comparison’s sake, people spent more than 350 minutes a week in Facebook (including its apps like Messenger or Instagram) in early 2016. And it’s definitely more this year since the previous year was merely 140 minutes a week.
But of course, you really can’t compare 2001 and 2016 because the Internet has changed so much—still, you get the idea: Neopets was the Facebook then.
So, after so many years, what has happened to it now?
In its heyday, there were 2.2 billion pageviews a month: that’s some crazy number there, considering that it was in the early 2000s.
If you think it died just like Friendster, you’re dead wrong: it’s still alive, just like your pets.
Despite you forgetting about it, there’re still users who log in to feed their pets daily, and it’s due to one group of people: the super-fans.
In a January 2017 article, the CEO of Neopets said that the current daily active users are at 100,000.
These super-fans have been talking (and complaining) in forums, in Neopets’ Facebook Page, and they have been the people keeping the site active—so far.
Gameplay has essentially remained the same, with different worlds to explore and the need to take care of your pets. I mean, how different can it be?
The thing that irked users—or just the super-fans, since they’re the main users—is the company’s slow adaption to new technology. In their website, they’re still using languages or codes that many website developers have since stopped using. If you would like a simple example, here’s one: they still do not have an app.
In fact, just go to the Neopets website and you’ll think that it has remained stuck in 1999.
Internally, there have been drastic changes in the ownership: it was started by a UK student and his friend, and after getting 600,000 pageviews a day, they sought for investors to cover the high cost of a bigger server.
In 2005, it was bought by Viacom, a listed company in the US.
By 2014, the ownership has been switched to JumpStart, a relatively smaller company.
JumpStart was then acquired by a listed China company, NetDragon, recently, effectively making Neopets a China company.
No one knows what the future lies for Neopets—would its new owner finally develop an app for the game, since NetDragon is essentially a mobile game developer? Would its new owner finally make Neopets relevant again, and would that turn off the 100,000 super-fans who preferred to live in the early 2000s?
With the acquisition being announced just recently, let’s wait and see where Neopets would be going. The last we know about Friendster’s acquisition, it didn’t go well, and Friendster is now completely dead.
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