Neopets, the much-beloved virtual pet game that ruled the early internet, is launching a new product called Neopets Metaverse. The new game is exactly what it sounds like — the classic Neopets experience but with the addition of cryptocurrency and NFTs.
Neopets Metaverse, which launches on August 26, takes heavy inspiration from the original Neopets universe. The company behind the game is really hammering home the nostalgia element in its announcement materials.
“Behind the story of Neopets is a strong and supportive community of players who have also grown with the Neopets brand, diligently holding onto the nostalgia attached to it,” says Dominic Law, Chief Metaverse Officer at Neopets Metaverse.
Neopets’ first foray into web3 — a collection of customizable Neopets NFTs — was not received kindly by the Neopets community. Actually, that’s a bit of an understatement: One of the most popular Neopets fan communities in the world, Jellyneo.net, went as far as to tweet that the Neopets community “overwhelmingly rejects the new NFT cashgrab project.”
It’s no surprise at all, then, that the Neopets Metaverse team is taking lots of time to remind the Neopets community that the new web3 features won’t ruin their experience. Here are a few quotes from the Neopets Metaverse Litepaper:
- “The Neopets Metaverse offers a nostalgic but fresh web3 gameplay experience guaranteed to wow veteran Neopians and newcomers alike.”
- “The Neopets Metaverse will be a free-to-play game: casual, fun, and simple to navigate whether you’re a crypto native or not.”
- “We know how critical it is to bridge the nostalgia of traditional Neopets with the advent of web3 so that these precious, generation memories and impressions don’t get lost in translation.”
Hey, at least they’re self-aware about it.
You may notice comments have been turned off on this trailer. Wonder why?
Neopets but make it trendy — Though Neopets Metaverse is ostensibly all about the Neopets, the company’s litepaper is also somewhat open about the company’s deepest goals. In a section entitled “Long-Term Vision,” creators write:
“As we step into the age of web3, our vision for the Neopets Metaverse remains uncompromising as we position ourselves to become a leading player in the GameFi and SocialFi virtual pet space. We look to achieve this by reconceiving the original 2D Neopets browser-based concept as a 3D play-and-earn game that will appeal to both Neopets aficionados and newcomers alike; in short, we aim to translate the proven, highly revered IP of Neopets into web3.”
There you have it: The company seeks to translate the nostalgia players feel for Neopets into a successful web3 company. Moving from a mostly static, 2D game to a more modern-looking 3D offering is just a means to that end.
Here are some of Neopets Metaverse’s blockchain-based offerings thus far:
- Neopoints Meta ($NPM) is based on the blockchain and can be purchased with real money
- $NPM can be swapped for $CSM (Codestone Meta), in-game currency used for free-to-play activities
- NFTs can be crafted by gathering resources or buying them from other players
- An NFT collection called “Pizzaroo’s Unique Pizzas” launched in May, including 5,000 unique Neopet-inspired pizza images
Nostalgia and blockchain don’t mix — This is just a sample of the web3 features Neopets Metaverse seeks to offer players. Eventually, the company plans to evolve the Neopets Metaverse community into a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO), theoretically allowing players (token-holders, really) to have a say in the platform’s development.
It’s readily apparent that the tension between Neopets nostalgia and the opportunity for web3-based profits is not just going to resolve itself. Neopets is so beloved by its community because it’s managed to remain virtually untouched as video games and internet culture have moved on. Even the switch to a 3D animation style would be enough to slash a sizable gash in that nostalgia; tacking on all these web3 features all but assures the Neopets community won’t enjoy the new experience.
Beginning on August 26, a limited version of Neopets Metaverse — just a few mini-games, really — will launch for NFT holders. That’s who this is for, really: the crypto bros and blockchain obsessives willing to buy into Neopets Metaverse’s promises. The nostalgia, and the community attached to it, is secondary.