Lo, how the mighty have fallen. Two decades ago, Neopets was a child of the burgeoning internet’s source of virtual best friends (not to mention black market economy training ground). These days, however, the online ecosystem of customizable fantasy animal companions is a shell of its former self, although a dedicated fanbase still exists despite the site’s large-scale inoperability due to the demise of Adobe Flash. And yet, sensing cold hard (crypto) cash is still to be made, the owners of the Neopets brand at JumpStart Games have announced a collection of — you guessed it — official NFTs.
Partnering with blockchain firm, Raydium, JumpStart Games recently unveiled a series of “equally unique, algorithmically generated lovable Neopets NFTs with variable backgrounds, assets, clothing, and personality [with] 7 varying trait categories.” But because these are non-fungible tokens we’re talking about here, the crypto Neopets are basically just encrypted avatars and little else. No specific release date has been given yet, although JumpStart says it should be sometime later this month.
If the whole endeavor sounds a little bandwagon-y and craven to you... well, you are not alone:
An ‘overwhelming’ rejection — “The @Neopets community overwhelmingly rejects the new NFT cashgrab project. We’re hard pressed finding someone outside of the NFT community that wants this,” reads a tweet from Jellyneo.net, one of the most popular Neopet fan sites still in existence. Fellow fansite Dressed To Impress also shared similar sentiments, insinuating that the whole thing is less an ode to the Neopets subculture and more a cynical attempt at milking a little extra money out of what remains of the brand.
NFTs? Cynical? C’mon — As much as we feel for the Neopets fans who have watched official support for their communities wane in recent years, it doesn’t come as a complete surprise. The rising (and crashing, and rising) world of NFTs is rife with all kinds of ridiculous cash grabs, scams, and general pointlessness. To see Neopets get roped into to the whirlwind is unfortunate, if somewhat predictable. With any luck, hardly anyone will actually purchase one of these NFTs, if only to remind JumpStart that if it really wanted to celebrate the online community, it could complete its website revamp or announce a new, genuinely entertaining project for fans.