Author: Allen Terrance
Revised: March 3, 2016
Neopets (formerly stylized NeoPets) is an entertainment website, formerly developed by Viacom and presently developed by Knowledge Adventure. The site revolves around virtual pets which visitors to the site own and care for.
The site was launched in late 1999 by Adam Powell and Donna Williams. It was funded by investors until 2005, when it was purchased by Viacom for $160 million. Knowledge Adventure then bought the site from Viacom in 2014, for an unannounced amount.
Advertising and Revenue
During the first six years of its operation, the site relied on a trademarked advertising method known as “immersive advertising” to generate revenue. Immersive advertising revolved around the integration of advertising into the site in interactive forms, such as games that would allow site visitors to earn in-game currency, or themed in-game items. In 2004, traditional advertising was added to the site, and a paid premium membership service was developed. Premium members were able to browse the site without any ads.
After the site was purchased by Viacom, banner advertising and other heavier forms of advertising were integrated over the existing advertising on the site. In 2007, a virtual currency that could be purchased with real money through micro transactions was also integrated into the site. This currency, called Neocash, could be used to buy virtual items.
The Neopets site has a virtual economy which revolves around Neocash and another form of virtual currency called Neopoints. While Neocash is purchased with real money, Neopoints can only be earned by playing games, selling items, and through other virtual transactions on the site. There is no method provided by the site itself to exchange Neocash for Neopoints or vice versa, which prevents Neopoints from being purchased with real money. Some third party sites offer unofficial purchase of currency; usually this currency is then delivered through a player to player trade on the site. On the site itself, Neocash can only be used in a special marketplace known as the NC Mall to buy exclusive in-game items, while Neopoints are used across the site for other trading.
Popularity and Reception
Neopets has been a popular entertainment site for more than a decade, which is a substantial span of time in the video gaming industry. The site is particularly popular amongst children’s sites, and is credited as a “sticky” site; the average length of a site visit is consistently high. The site received a number of praises from 2003 to 2007 for consistently high average playtime amongst its users when compared to other sites in a similar category. The site has received less critical acclaim in recent years, but remains popular and profitable. Unlike the userbase in other online games, most of the users of Neopets are female; this has been attributed to the site’s attempt to provide a diverse experience and broad appeal.
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