Neopets are being converted to NFTs because of course they are
Virtual pet franchise Neopets is joining NFT — an inevitable move for a site with a long and varied history that has spawned a dizzying array of merchandise and offshoots, from magazines and cards to mobile games and a (promised) animated series.
You may not be familiar with Neopets, but it was a staple for many people who grew up online in the mid-2000s. The basic concept is that users adopt virtual pets, and then spend hours in farming games and events to obtain items and customize their little loved ones. It sounds simple, but the site was hugely popular in its day (due in no small part to a thriving and addictive internal economy), boasting over 30 million active users around 2005.
Neopets has been in decline for a long time now, and it’s hard to gain control over how many active users remain. The site itself is a wreck, due to the end of support by Adobe for Flash, which was used to code the core functionality of Neopets. But a core of dedicated Neopeans remains — so active that the brand’s current owner, Jumpstart Games, apparently thought it worth trying to write a little crypto for the site out of fond memories.
In a press release, Jumpstart says it is partnering with blockchain firm Radium to produce 20,500 “equally unique, algorithmically generated furry Neopets NFTs with variable backgrounds, assets, clothes and personalities – 7 different attribute categories.” partnering with.” The NFT samples in question show a handful of Neopets in custom outfits on a gradient background. From Jumpstart’s announcement it appears that NFTs will just be… regular NFTs – aka photos that you can’t really do anything with, other than gain bragging rights.
The reaction of the Neopets community to the news has been overwhelmingly negative. Fans such as Jellino and Dress to Impress have strongly criticized the move, deriding it as a cynical cash grab, a disastrous decision for the environment, and a launch that adds nothing to the site’s core functionality. “You can’t feed your NFT, read it, battle with it, or customize it. It’s #AntiNeopet,” tweeted Official Gelenio account.
The official position of Dress to Impress is that NFTs are bad.
They’re an inherently zero-priced product that revs up art in all the wrong ways,
And they further legitimize the environmentally destructive cryptocoin movement that is currently mostly a pump-and-dump scam.
— Dress to Impress (@NeopetsDTI) September 25, 2021
According to a Q&A shared on Gelenio, the Neopets team has responded to some of this criticism, but their answers aren’t particularly convincing. For example, on allegations that NFTs are harmful to the environment, the company states that its partners Radium and Solana “[strive] To be a more eco-friendly NFT solution than competitors” – a fairly meaningless statement. (Data on the environmental impact of NFTs is scant at best, but, as is the case with much crypto activity, we know that mining NFTs is an extremely energy intensive activity.) Similarly, in response to the question “Why NFTs make?” Jumpstart says it is “exploring new opportunities to advance its brand and product in the future.” It’s a depressingly honest answer, but one that’s not likely to appeal to the Neopians who associate the franchise with sweet and nostalgic memories of their youth.
It’s also worth noting, that for a long-lived brand like Neopets, this isn’t even the first time around the NFT blockchain. It previously launched a trading card game powered by NFTs, called Neopets Cryptoquest 2018 which ended sharply due to lack of interest. NFTs is, of course, a much bigger industry now than it was three years ago, but fans fear that the life of the project has nothing to do with Neopets’ long-term future. As a representative post on the site’s subreddit notes: “TNT [The Neopets Team] The site is not going to fix it. They’ll milk it for what’s left and then shut it down for good.”
Perhaps it is NFT’s place in the media landscape plagued by the sluggish value of “IP”. NFTs are a hunter of last resort, sucking out the remaining remnants of value from brands big and small in the name of financial efficiency. Will the Neopets survive the embrace? The community has certainly looked worse before, but the site is in decline in so many other ways (broken games and events; sporadic updates) that this could be the final straw. At any rate: This is a reminder to check your newborns. They are hungry and they miss you.
#Neopets #converted #NFTs