Neopets: The Nostalgia and Future of Neopia
For some the name Neopets brings back happy childhood memories of caring for colorful pets. For others it’s a website where their children play fun and educational games. The online universe where Neopets live is called Neopia and it was created back in 1999. In 2014 JumpStart (Math Blaster, School of Dragons) acquired the Neopet brand and has been working on improving Neopia for players of all ages.
I had the chance to pick the brain of Alison Lord, a business development associate for JumpStart Games who has been focusing on all things Neopets. Alison has been working on the content and direction for the Neopets brand and website. She took the time to answer some questions about how Neopets still appeals to nostalgic gamers who grew up with Neopets in the 90’s and what the future holds for Neopia.
Alexandria: Many adults have nostalgia for the Neopets of the 90’s, how has the brand changed since then, is it still familiar to old fans?
Alison: Neopets has changed quite a bit since the 90's, but at its core it's still the same, which is why so many adults come back and still enjoy that nostalgia. The pets, the community, the games, all feel familiar to old fans, there's just a lot more to the site now!
Alexandria: The online Neopets universe, Neopia, seems geared towards children. Does Neopets still have an appeal to it’s original fan base that are now adults?
Alison: Yes, definitely! A lot of these people grew up with Neopets and still feel very strongly about it. While the bright colors and cute pets appeal to children, there is still plenty on the site for all ages to enjoy!
Alexandria: JumpStart is known for educational children’s games, how is educational content included in the Neopets universe?
Alison: One of the things that really interested us in Neopets is that it isn't as educationally-driven as our other brands, but there is still plenty to learn on this site. From writing for the Neopian newspaper and other contests, to playing educational mini-games, to learning about finance from our own economy and stock market, education is really everywhere in Neopia.
Alexandria: There is a lot of content included in the Neopets online universe from virtual spaces to hang out in and decorate to a variety of games to play. How does JumpStart decide what type of content is a good fit for Neopia?
Alison: From our fans! We have a very dedicated user base and we pay close attention to their feedback. A lot of the new content we plan is a mix between feedback we've received from them and our own experience building games.
Alexandria: Neopia has received some improved graphics. Do you think we’ll ever get to see a fully 3D Neopets universe?
Alison: Maybe one day! I think it's something a lot of people would like to see happen.
Alexandria: Neopets now has a mobile game option, so players can care for their pets on the go. Is mobile applications a direction JumpStart is thinking of expanding the Neopets universe into?
Alison: Absolutely. Making Neopets more accessible on mobile is a big focus for us right now.
Alexandria: Ghoul Catchers launched on mobile over a year ago bringing some of the fun of the Neopia universe to mobile devices. Would you say the mobile game was a success and will there be any more Neopets themed mobile games coming soon?
Alison: Yes, a lot of our users play daily as it's a great way to earn Neopoints while you're on the go. Eventually yes, but not right now.
Alexandria: What does the future hold for the Neopets brand and universe?
Alison: Right now one of our main focuses is updating the site, to make it more mobile-friendly and improve the experience for both new and old users. From there I think more mobile applications are the next step, all the while continuing to bring new content to the site for users to enjoy.
Alexandria: How can older fans of the original Neopets satisfy their nostalgia for pet care and fun?
Alison: All of that still exists on Neopets today, because the pets are what keep people coming back day after day. A lot of new content has been added to Neopia over the years, but it all comes back to the pets, and more ways to have fun and do things with them.
Alexandria: Thank you so much for answering these questions. I really appreciate it!
Alison: Of course, happy to do it!