The Neopets developers recently revealed on their website that they are creating NFTs for over twenty thousand customized pets, all in partnership with several blockchain companies. So far, the public response from past and present community members has been overwhelmingly negative.
Neopets is a pet adoptable website where users can play minigames, collect virtual items, and join friend communities. At the height of its popularity, Neopets had over 25 million users, with 80% of them being minors. An entire generation of web-savvy netizens spent a significant part of their childhood on Neopets, which is why they’re not happy to see its developers hand over the beloved IP to cryptocurrency investors.
Non-fungible tokens (commonly known as NFTs), meanwhile, are cryptocurrency tokens that represent a piece of digital art. Cryptocurrency has been proven to be disastrous for the environment. According to The Verge, a single GIF of a cat had the carbon footprint of a EU resident’s electricity usage for two months. When sold in bulk, NFTs can have even vaster environmental consequences. The environmental organization Sierra Club claims that a year of carbon output from Bitcoin (one of the most popular cryptocurrencies) equaled the annual footprint of New Zealand.
So, why do it? Cryptocurrency enthusiasts are attracted by the top prices for NFT artwork, which have sold for sums as large as 69 million dollars. Not every NFT can command such prices, and the Neopets NFTs have not yet been released. There’s no guarantee that Neopets NFTs will be a worthwhile investment. What matters is that the Neopets owners believe that they could net immense profits, even if it comes at the expense of the environment.
Neopets’ partner companies are now producing NFTs that are images of adoptable pets, except they are “digital memorabilia” (which likely means that you can’t actually use them as on-site pets). Each one comes with a randomly generated background, personality, assets, and clothes. So buyers will own their very own image of a decorated Neopet, which is something that they could already do by creating a free account on the website. One example is a robot Acara wearing a straw hat and a black cape, standing against a pale blue background. Another is a flaming Draik in a brass hat and blue overalls. None of them are as elaborately decorated as the pets that many players have on the actual Neopets website.
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Neopets devs claims that their blockchain investors are more environmentally friendly, but it’s hard to take it seriously when their only linked sources are the websites of cryptocurrency companies who arguably stand to benefit from such a partnership.
The popular Neopets fansite Jellyneo (active since 2004) sees the partnership as a quick cash grab:
Earlier this year, Neopets had an issue with black market hackers stealing regular pets from website users. Neopets had also previously attempted a NFT game called Neopets Cryptoquest in 2018. Players could purchase virtual card packs that would be redeemable for prizes. The game was eventually retired within a year.
Hopefully, the same outcome awaits the NFT collaboration.