Neopets Meta — Months earlier, Dominic Law, the CEO of Neopets Meta, unveiled early concepts of “play-and-earn” Web3 gaming. He touted the franchise as having all the right ingredients for an NFT game. However, while the Neopets appear to be a promising gateway into Web3 gaming, the project has been scrapped.
The abrupt cancellation of Neopets Meta surprised everyone as it seemed to carry a great deal of potential. As for the reason behind its halt, an explanation has yet to be given.
On Monday, the Neopets Team released a blog post explaining that its Metaverse had shut down along with its pivot to the non-crypto mobile game, World of Neopets, which had been under development.
“TNT has taken a close look at every nook and cranny of Neopets, and after doing so, the decision has been made to transition away from the Neopets Metaverse game and redistribute those resources to the development of a game that we feel can better reflect our values and vision,” the team (TNT) said.
“This decision was not made lightly, but it was made for the best reason: we want to design a game that’s more in line with what the community has been asking for.”
According to the post, Neopets is also under a new leadership team, which raised the question: is Law, the Hong Kong-based Web3 advocate who worked at several financial firms, out? The answer is yes.
His LinkedIn profile says that Law is still with the Neopets Meta team. However, his title recently shifted from “Chief Metaverse officer” to CEO. Regardless, it remains to be seen whether it was his call to move Neopets away from NFTs or someone else.
For the first time in 18 years, Neopets will become independent after securing a management buyout. In 2005, it was bought by Viacom and later sold to Jumpstart. The firm was then acquired by Japanese gaming firm NetDragon, who recently shuttered Jumpstart.
“Free from the corporate baggage that existed in the past, the newly united TNT has now been entrusted with the decision-making and overall brand strategy of Neopets,” the post announced.
The updated Neopets entity is dubbed “World of Neopia,” promising fans monthly updates, a brand ambassador program, and AMAs. TNT is also looking to launch a new homepage for Neopets on July 20, using an emulator to update the old Flash games and make them playable in the modern system.
Reception to the Neopets Meta news
Following news of the Neopets NFT game getting canceled, Twitter users called the project a “rug.”
The company assured a Twitter user that despite the cancellation, it would still continue supporting the Web3 community. The sentiment was emphasized in its blog post, where it said it would continue operating a Discord server for NFT holders.
Although TNT repurposed some of the best assets from the canceled game, it’s still an issue of whether NFT owners can claim refunds or see new benefits in the upcoming mobile game, which has been flagged as devoid of any form of crypto. According to a Neopets representative, the firm plans to offer perks, which includes its digital “NC” in-game currency and digital items.
“We are so grateful for the support of the community that has sprung up around the Neopets digital collectable lines, and as a sign of our appreciation, we will be announcing more details on future perks soon,” said the representative.
“These may include physical merch, NC items, NC, access to IRL events, and more.”
Community backlash is speculated to be a factor in Neopets moving away from NFTs, but a representative shed more light on the matter, saying:
“Listening to the voices of the community is paramount to the success of our brand. It’s important to our team to listen to the needs and wants of our fans – this is what’s best for Neopets overall.”
The crypto agenda
Although it may seem like fresh news for returning fans, Neopets have previously explored NFT integrations in the past few years. For example, 2018 saw the company experiment with Ethereum NFTs. However, fansite JellyNeo estimated that only 1,800 NFTs were sold, producing a meager $14,500 at the time.
TNT said it was running Neopets at a loss for over a decade before it raised $4 million in funding from several venture capital firms in January, including:
- Avalanche’s Blizzard Ecosystem Fund
- HashKey Digital
- IDG Capital
- Polygon Ventures
According to a representative, Neopets backers are supportive of the company despite the shift away from NFTs.
“Our investors believe in the team’s ability to execute on building a brighter future for Neopets,” the representative noted. “They are extremely supportive of our vision for the IP and what we have in the pipeline.”
During the January funding announcement, Xiao Xiao, the director of HashKey Investment, said Neopets had great potential with its NFTs and P2E features. He praised Law, saying he was able to execute and deliver.
However, Law later told Forbes that he believes P2E games are similar to Ponzi schemes, noting his preference for a Web3 gaming model that keeps speculators from manipulating markets by focusing on gameplay instead.
In January, Law said the NFT game would capture the spirit of the Neopets community. However, the Neopets team is now shifting away from NFTs, which is what’s best for the community.