What’s the future of Neopets?
On March 12, a post appeared on the Neopets forum and sent the community spiraling: It was from a disgruntled user who claimed that black market vendors had been creating fake versions of rare Neopets and selling them for cold, hard cash.
What’s more, there were over 3,000 of these fake pets in circulation in the game.
The post was the latest in a years-long struggle over what to do about Neopets’ unconverted pets, or UCs. In 2007, most of Neopets’ static pet images were replaced with more flexible, layered images so that users could customize their pets. Only, some of the old art was allowed to stay. There are 227 pet species and color combos that were optional to convert. Since no more could ever be created — so everyone thought — those pets became a hot commodity.
Whether because of nostalgia, a love for the art, or simply the desire to have something rare, many Neopets users thirst for UCs. Meanwhile, in Q&As on Neopets’ fictional newspaper, The Neopian Times, The Neopets Team reps explain in excruciating detail why bringing them back would tax an already small and over-worked team. The only people who win, apparently, are the black market sellers who could, in fact, create more UCs through an exploit.
But this latest dust-up has been the last straw for The Neopets Team, who have announced that they will look into bringing back unconverted pets. The decision was the right one for the time, Neopets brand manager Stephanie Lord told me, but the team wants to remain flexible.
“I think one of the biggest things we’ve really learned is [...] a decision we made in 2002, 2007, even 2015, might not be the same decision we’d make today,” Lord told me. “Tech has changed, our users have changed, we’ve grown up a little bit.”