Digital pet fantasy game Neopets has announced the launch of its first non-fungible token (NFT) collection, the Neopets Metaverse Collection. The digital assets will be minted and marketed through automated market maker Raydium, which uses the Solana blockchain.
The Neopets website was launched in 1999 and quickly became popular among children and teenagers. Users could create and own a mystical digital pet, play games, and buy and sell goods for it. In 2005, at the height of its popularity, Neopets was the second stickiest website, ahead of Yahoo, AOL, and eBay.
The website was bought by Viacom, which owns CBS, MTV, and Nickelodeon, in June of 2005 for $160 million. Much of its commercial success at the time came from its advertising model, which worked with product placement in the digital world as opposed to pop-up ads.
Despite its early success, Neopets’ popularity has declined in the last few years. In 2020 it was averaging 100,000 views per day as opposed to the 2.2 billion views at the peak of its popularity. In addition, Adobe shut down Flash Player, the media platform where Neopets operated a series of animated activities, which subsequently had to disappear.
The company stated that it planned to revamp the website in 2021, migrate the content to a mobile-friendly template, and improve the experience for Neopet owners.
In some sense, the launch of the NFTs is a step in that direction because it demonstrates Neopets is still keeping up with technological trends. It also shows the brand is looking to create some conversation around its name.
The launch aims to emulate CryptoPunks, where nine of its avatars were auctioned for $17 million at Christie’s earlier this year. While CryptoPunks and other avatars often generate 10,000 NFTs using algorithms, Neopoet has opted to generate 20,000. It doesn’t sound substantially different, but NFTs can be sensitive to both price and supply. That’s especially the case because it’s on the Solana blockchain, which has fewer users compared to Ethereum.
“Over the past 20 plus years, nearly 100 million people have engaged with Neopets characters both in the game and through merchandise and other branded items. Extending to NFTs gives those users as well as NFT collectors the chance to experience and own part of the history of Neopets,” said Jim Czulewicz, President and CEO of JumpStart Games, the company that currently owns Neopets. “For us this is another opportunity to extend the brand into new markets and to new users in a format that is both modern and valued.”
Similar to when mobile games came out and there was a resurgence of old fashion side scroller games, other collectibles that were once viral like Neopets might start resurfacing as NFTs.
On the other hand, NFTs are also becoming the starting point of entertainment content. CryptoPunks signed a deal with UTA to license its intellectual property to mainstream media. And Fox is launching an animated series curated on blockchain.