The beloved browser game Neopets first launched in 1999. At its core, the game is about caring for virtual pets, which never die (unlike Tamagotchi). Along the way, Neopets entertained and empowered a generation of young women to learn coding and discover how the stock market works.
Neopets has bounced around a lot since its mid-2000s heyday. It was sold to Viacom in 2005, then to JumpStart in 2014. JumpStart was acquired by Chinese gaming company NetDragon in 2017.
Neopets, which has a little more than 50% of its fan base in the United States, is working on several projects to bring the game to China, JumpStart CEO Jim Czulewicz told CNN Business Friday.
"Was it later than I would have wanted to do it? Yeah," said Czulewicz, adding that the company expects it can retain players who might been put off by the website's tech problems. He estimates Neopets still has around 100,000 daily active users and 1.5 million monthly active players.
Besides its mobile site, Neopets is getting a family friendly animated TV series based on the game's extensive lore, slated for fall 2021. Czulewicz said the company has talked to video on demand services and traditional broadcasters who are interested in picking up the show. He has even received around eight requests on LinkedIn from Neopets fans, offering to work on the TV show for free.
The franchise is launching another free mobile game, the third in its repertoire, called Island Builders, that will feature adventures and quests. It will be similar in gameplay to a 2011 dragon building simulator "DragonVale" where users candesign a park and put dragons on display. It will have in-app purchases and potentially offer season passes.
Although Neopets' first two mobile games, a "Candy Crush"-like matching game called "Ghoul Catchers" and a word game, "Legends and Letters," did not gain much momentum, Czulewicz said the brand's next game will center around the features Neopians love, like a story and well-written characters. The game is due in 2020.