- This article is about the website. For the inhabitants of Neopia, see Neopet. For other uses, see Neopets (disambiguation).
Neopets is a digital pet gaming website founded on 15 November 1999. It is set in the world of Neopia, a planet where creatures called Neopets live. Players can create and adopt these Neopets, build and furnish a home for them, and earn currency by playing games in order to buy books, food, furniture, and so on. Neopets can be painted different colours and customised with different clothing.
The site is free to play, supported by banner advertising and sponsored games. However, users may sign up for Neopets Premium, introduced in 2004, for $7.99 per month, which hides the advertising and provides access to special features including access to beta versions of developing games. Between 2006 and 2009, a subscription-based mobile phone application was operated that allowed subscribers to access an exclusive area of Neopia and care for their Neopets from their mobile phone. Additionally, in 2007, The Neopets Team introduced Neocash, which can be bought for real money and used in turn to buy special wearable items for Neopets. It functions as a separate economy: Neocash and Neocash items cannot be traded for Neopoints.
Development of Neopets began in 1997 by Adam Powell and Donna Williams, inspired by the game Teknosphere, an online game where players "sent [a robot] into cyberspace". The original idea was to make a Java applet rather than a website, where players would take control of their Neopet to explore the virtual world. While it was being programmed, Adam began building a tie-in website. The Java game was never finished, with the development of the website taking over.
The website finally launched on 15 November 1999. By Christmas, the website was receiving over 600,000 page views a day. By January they were seeking further investment, and Doug Dohring, who was experienced in market research, saw the website's potential and bought the company. After this, the company's offices moved from Guildford in the UK to California, USA.
Neopets continued to expand both on and off the web: in November 2001, the company trialled merchandise at a few select stores in California, and the following year more merchandise became available in the USA through Limited Too shops. Merchandise was launched in the UK through Claire's Accessories. The Neopets Trading Card Game was launched in September 2003 and would continue until 2006.
In 2005, media company Viacom bought Neopets, reportedly for $160 million. The same year, Adam and Donna left The Neopets Team, the staff who are responsible for running the site and producing new content.
The website received a redesign in April 2007, complete with redrawn artwork for all Neopet and colour combinations and the ability to dress them up. In July 2008, Viacom branded Neopets a Nickelodeon Virtual World, and launched the spin-off site Petpet Park that October. Petpet Park would close in October 2014.
The website celebrated its one trillionth page view since its founding in 2011.
In March 2014, it was announced that Viacom had sold Neopets to Jumpstart, an educational children's games brand. They explained they were interested in Neopets due to its "loyal user fanbase, and [its] older audience".
Players of the site must sign up for a free account. This allows them to own Neopets and participate in the world. Each account can own up to four Neopets, a shop, a gallery, and a Neohome each. A player may also sign up for up to four additional "side" accounts to own more Neopets, but they may not use these additional accounts to earn Neopoints. Players are expected to care for their Neopets, including feeding them, playing with them, and curing them of any diseases they may catch. Players can use the Quick Ref page to keep track of their Neopet's needs.
Basic care of Neopets can be learned from Neopets Jr., a simple version of the site catering to young players or those new to the website.
Neopets has its own functional economy. Players earn Neopoints primarily from playing games. These Neopoints can be used to purchase items. The main way new items enter the economy is when they are bought from NPC shops. Items can be sold between users in player-owned shops, and many users turn a profit from buying up cheap items, that have a high resell price, when shops restock. Items can be bartered for other items in the Trading Post or auctioned off at the Auction House. Some rarer items - such as paint brushes and Treasure Map pieces - are only given out by random events or as prizes from plots.
Plots are story lines that occur in the Neopets world. They often involve the release of new themed worlds, and users can follow the story and participate by solving puzzles or fighting in the Battledome - a game where trained Neopets are equipped and fight turn based battles against other competitors. They are the main means that events effecting the whole of Neopia transpire.
Players may set themselves other goals, including collecting certain items to display in a gallery, or filling their Stamp Album or Neodeck. They may train and arm their Neopet for the Battledome, seek to paint and customise their Neopet, or decorate their Neohome. The most well decorated Neohomes can be entered into the Neohome Spotlight, which awards trophies to the players with the best Neohomes. Other spotlights include the Art Gallery, to which the player may submit their drawings, the Poetry Contest, and the Gallery Spotlight. The website also operates weekly contests like the Lenny Conundrum and the Caption Contest.
The site also operates the Neopian Times, which publishes player authored stories, articles, comics and series of long stories. It features an editorial where The Neopets Team answer players' questions too.
A large portion of the site is given over to community interactions. Users can view other users' profiles (called user look-ups) and their Neopets and trade with them. Players over the age of 13, or those under 13 who have returned a parental permission form - in accordance with the USA's Children's Online Privacy Protection Act - can send messages to each other, talk on the site's chat boards, and can form themed guilds with their friends.
The Neopets Team have several systems in place for dealing with rule breaking. Minor infractions may often receive a warning at the discretion of the staff, whereas repeated or more serious infractions can be dealt with by suspension: this prevents a user from accessing their account or anything associated with it - e.g. its Neopets, its Neopoints, its shop - until the suspension has elapsed. Suspensions can be issued for different lengths of time, and subsequent suspensions tend to be longer.
For very serious or continued rule breaking, the player can be frozen. This permanently locks the user out of their account, and any other user who searches for that player will just receive a message that the account in question is frozen. If a player believes they have been wrongly frozen, they can submit a frozen account ticket in the Help section to have the case reviewed and submit extra information about what happened. All the details of the account remain saved, so if the review finds in favour of the player the account can be restored in its entirety.
For rule breaking specifically relating to the Neoboards or contacting other players, a user may be silenced for a period of time. While silenced, they can still play the site but cannot communicate with other players at all, nor modify their user or pet look-ups.
None of these actions are carried out by automatic systems: an employee of Neopets reviews each case before acting.
Neopets produces a range of merchandise, including plushies, stickers, and stationary. The merchandise retails at many mainstream outlets such as Wal-Mart, Target, and Limited Too (which was the first outlet for Neopets merchandise). There are also online retailers involved, such as 99dogs and Zazzle.
In September 2003, the Neopets Trading Card Game was published by Wizards of the Coast. The trading cards are a collectible card game based on characters and settings from the website. As well as being collected they can also be used in a two-player card game. In addition to the base set of cards, there have been nine expansions mostly set around the site's plots. The last expansion was released in 2006.
Several off-site video games have also been released, starting with Neopets: The Darkest Faerie in 2005 for the PlayStation 2 then Neopets: Petpet Adventures - The Wand of Wishing in 2006 for the PlayStation Portable. In 2008, Neopets Puzzle Adventure was released for the Nintendo DS, Wii, and PC, and in 2009, the Leapfrog Didj exclusive title Quizara's Curse was launched. Five types of electronic handhelds have been released: four types of Mini Pals, a keyring sized accessory where the player cares for a Neopet, and a Zizzle toy featuring ten games in one.
In 2005, it was reported that a Neopets film was in pre-production, but nothing has materialised.