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Neopets is a popular online virtual pet simulation game. The site was founded on November 15, 1999 by Adam Powell and Donna Williams, but the company was bought by Doug Dohring soon after being created. Neopets started out as a site for bored college students but quickly grew into a site for 'children' of all ages (many adults play this site, some with children of their own), and is currently one of the most popular mainstream sites on the web. Users, called "Neopians", have to care for their Neopets by feeding and playing with them. Users can also play games to earn Neopoints (NP), Neopian currency that can be used to purchase items that interact with their Neopets.

Although the company is based in the United States, its founders are British and the site retains British English spellings. In addition to English, as of August 2004 the site is available translated (with varying degrees of completeness) into nine other languages. Neopets Inc. also operates an Asian branch, which is partially owned by Green Dot Capital, a subsidiary of the investment vehicle of the Government of Singapore, Temasek Holdings.

Account Basics

After creating an account, Neopians can have up to four different pets per account. While multiple accounts are permitted, if a user is caught using more than one account to earn Neopoints, then their accounts will be frozen. As of May 2005, there are 50 different Neopet species currently available, with most being fictionalized versions of real animals. For example, the Nimmo is a stylized frog, the Blumaroo is kangaroo-like, the Pteri is one of two bird-like species, the Lupe is wolf-like and the Gelert is dog-like. There are also Neopets versions of popular fantasy creatures, such as dragons (Draiks) unicorns (Unis) and the newest neopet, a winged serpent, the "Hissi". Users can customize their pets by selecting gender, colour, (choice of red, blue, yellow, or green) and name (provided another user hasn't already chosen the name).

Neopets grow older, and must be fed and played with from day to day to stay happy. There are many stages of hunger, ranging from "bloated" to "dying" (although Neopets will never die, or starve to death). They can also read books and battle each other in a Battledome in a style akin to popular role-playing games such as Pokémon. Neglecting your Neopet will result in their unhappiness. Neopians can give their pets a different colour past the basic choices, such as purple and grey, if they purchase a paint brush. Paint brushes can also change pets into different styles such as Pirate and Royal. Some colours cannot be obtained from a paint brush, though. Robot, for instance, can only be achieved by using the Secret Laboratory or Fountain Faerie. To access the lab, you need to collect all nine "lab map pieces". And to paint a pet from the Fountain Faerie you need to complete a quest from her (a rare event) to paint your pet.

Neopians gain the Neopoints to care for their pets and purchase items by playing games. Many of the games are interactive Flash or Shockwave games similar to older games—"Meerca Chase II" is very similar to Snake while "Korbat's Lab" is like Arkanoid. There is even a curious case of reproducing a version of the popular Namco puzzle game Mr. Driller. Among the more popular games are "Hannah and the Ice Caves" (the sequel to the equally popular "Hannah and the Pirate Caves"),"Turmac Roll" and "Petpetsitter". There are also numerous PHP games, such as "NeoQuest" and "Pyramids". If a user is skilled at a game, they may earn a trophy. Items are then purchased in either main shops, which are automatically restocked by the game, or in user-owned shops.

If a Neopian is caught breaking the rules as stated in the Neopets Terms and Conditions , their account will be frozen. If an account is frozen, it means that the account is not at all accessible by the user. They can not log in, play games, or access any of the features on Neopets. Upon attempting to log in, they receive a message saying that they are frozen. If wrongfully accused, there is a response form to contact Neopets. Unfortunately, the Neopets team does not always respond promptly, and may sometimes take months to reply.

Neopets recently announced that Neopians committing more minor infractions would be "suspended" for a few days rather than frozen completely. This idea seems to have gone over well with players, since it seems that it will cut down on unfair freezings. However, many people feel that this is not used fairly either.

Neopets has announced a premium service, in which users may pay a fee to customize the website. One such customization improvement includes a portal, which allows users to access various parts of the site with more ease. They are also looking into the possibility of offering an email service.


The entire game takes place on (or in orbit around) the fictional planet of Neopia. The main world is Neopia Central, a city where the main stores are based. There are also different themed worlds: Tyrannia (prehistoric), Faerieland (faeries), Mystery Island (Polynesian), Haunted Woods (Halloween/spooky), Krawk Island (pirates), Lost Desert (Ancient Egyptian), Terror Mountain (winter/Christmas), mysterious Jelly World (jelly), Virtupets Space Station (Space station), Kreludor (moon), Meridell (medieval), and Brightvale (Medieval with an emphasis on knowledge and enlightenment, à la the Renaissance). There are also mini worlds and sub-worlds, such as Roo Island and Kiko Lake. Each of these worlds (which are, in reality, more like regions or settings) has unique shops, games, and activities pertaining to its theme.

These worlds are generally introduced through in-game plots. For example, a former world, Maraqua (underwater), was destroyed by the Krawk Island pirates, which led to the "discovery" of Krawk Island. Currently, Maraqua is being rebuilt, which will lead to the discovery of another place, Scurvy Island. (This rebuilding is a part of the "Curse of Maraqua" plot, released in a series of comic-style story sections on the site, and is tied in with a Neopets TCG expansion (See "Neopets in the Real World" below).)


Once Neopians become comfortable with the basics, they can begin spending their Neopoints on items beyond caring for their pets. Popular goals include Paintbrushes (which can change a pet into another colour, such as orange or brown, or even a completely different style, such as "pirate", "faerie" or "baby" even.) and Petpets (pets for your pet, which don't do much but are generally quite cute). There are even Petpetpets , which seem to be the game equivalent of your pet's pet having fleas (except these Petpetpets seem to be items many want). Any of these goals can cost an enormous amount of Neopoints, and dedicated users will devote months to their acquisition.

Every Neopian can have a shop, Neodeck, and Neohome. Players can buy items from other players' shops or sell them in their own shop. Items to sell in stores can be bought from the official stores or from other players, "found" through random events, won in an auction, or traded for. You can also send items to other users. Some experienced players make more Neopoints through their shops than by playing games. Prices rise and fall rapidly (sometimes within a single day) depending on the availability and desirability of items—for this reason, some teachers have used Neopets shops to teach about supply and demand. Other players often 'restock' in the marketplace shops, purchasing items cheaply, then reselling them for often thousands more. These players are often given the name 'restockers'.

Neodecks has virtual trading cards (there are also virtual stamps and coins which can be "collected"). Neohomes can be bought for a certain number of Neopoints for each room. Furniture may be placed in the Neohomes, and extensions (lights, insurance, etc.) can be purchased.

Any Neopian can join or create a guild, essentially a club for users. These usually have a theme, such as the "Faerie Guild" or the "Nimmo Lovers Guild." There are message boards inside of the guilds, only accessible to members of that guild. There are also regular Neopets message boards, accessible to anyone, which are quite active as well as site-wide stories or plots which anyone can take part in.

The Neopian villain, Dr. Sloth is often prominently featured in several of these site-wide stories. Usually the source of ridicule due to his similarity to a green chicken, he has been featured in the comics page of the Neopian Times numerous times. His greatest achievements were the enslavement of the Grundos, an alien-like race and his creation of the Transmogrification Potions, which change the appearance or species of a Neopet into a mutant version. He has not been involved in affairs within Neopia, since the Neopets Staff opted for more Hannah plots (as seen in Hannah and the Pirate Caves) instead.

Part of the reason why Neopets is so popular is that it is continually changing: new items, games, plots (such as "Hannah and the Ice Caves" or "Rebuild Maraqua", etc.) are introduced almost every day. The ability to amass large amounts of Neopoints and rare items is a challenge for competitive players, and someone who keeps up with the latest news has a greater chance of being the first one to obtain a rare item (and sell it before it drops in value) or to earn a top score in new a game.

As of October 2004, Neopets report over 94 million accounts, and over 134 million pets (note that one user can have multiple pets, and many users have several accounts). Updated statistics may be found on the Neopets 'Pet Central' Page . However, there is some doubt over the veracity of these statistics (see "Controversy and Criticism" below).

Player Types

Another aspect of Neopets is the society that has developed on the 24 neoboards, which are forums for users to chat on. These boards may be unseen by the common visitor. Premade 'avatars', small graphics displayed next to each post, are earned, and 'neotitles', a blurb underneath the username, can also be chosen from a list.

Players often find a 'home board', or a neoboard in which they feel most comfortable. Below are a few common ones.

Avatars/Neosignatures (AC): The primary focus of this board is the small graphics known as 'avatars'. These are displayed by a user's name when they make a post on the Neoboards and appear alongside a user's name when a player seachs for them via the search bar. Dicussions include the method of obtaining new avatars, help on obtaining avatars, scattered font discussion, avatar games, and general discussion not always pertaining to avatars. Many 'chat groups' have also sprung up in this board, often exclusionary to new members. Typing habits are similar to those of FCer's (discussed later), but often substitute 'j00' for you, as well as 'meh' for me and 'luff' for love. 'Pwn' is also a commonly-used word in this forum. Chatspeak is used about fairly often in such groups (and the board in general), but generally exhibits a higher level of literacy and grammar than that of 'noobs'.

Beauty Contest (BC): This is the place to meet other artists and advertise your pet in the BC or Beauty Contest. Some people think that the BC has become a popularity contest, but there still are many that will only vote for art they like. The BCers, as the regulars on the board are called, don't usually use chat speak and you can find them monitoring the board, hunting out the n00bs (annyoing spammes who don't stay on topic), vote traders ("vote for me and I'll vote for you"), and Art Thieves.

Battledome (BD): The Battledome is one of the most well-known boards on Neopets. Sadly, their status has severely lowered recently, due to an influx of younger players (often using chatspeak) claiming to be elite. A stereotype has developed (not un-founded) of users on this board being rude.

Evil Things and Monster Sightings (EMS): This board consists mostly of people claiming to be 'emo' or 'goth', the few literates have formed a small group. Typing habits are similar to that of the FC, though due to a smaller population, a tighter hierarchy has developed.

Fan Clubs (FC): This board replaced General Chat upon its deletion in popularity. Although the majority of topics may range anywhere from claiming to be celebrities to remarking on one's favorite Neopet, many literates do exist, though they tend to be younger. Typing often includes the '^-^' face. Some literate users often place their name in front of new topics to better be identified.

Help Chat/Newbie Chat (HC/NC): This board is closely related to Fan Clubs, with typing habits similar to the AC.

Trading Post/Auction (TP): Often called TPer's, the older players are now leaving. This board is similar to the Battledome, though less so.

Jelly World Chat (JWC): Certainly the most unusual board yet remarked upon. This board is 'hidden', and requires a javascript code to post on. An extremely noticeable hierarchy has developed, and acceptance is extremely difficult. Often, this board is referred to as the elite of the elite. Only the elite of the FC are aware of its existence, and then only some are accepted.

Although seemingly uninteresting to the casual observer, the neoboards may display a model of real-world sociology when observed more closely.

Controversy And Criticism

While some educators and parents preach the wholesomeness and value of Neopets as a place for children to learn the basics of things like supply and demand, economics, stocks, and even HTML, others criticise it for its liberal placement and promotion of their sponsors' products, a technique they have dubbed "Immersion Advertisement". Indeed, much of the company's revenue is gained through promotion of sponsors and their products and they have long accomplished this without a single banner or pop-up advertisement. However, in October 2004, a considerable number of banners that link to external websites such as eBay (instead of linking to various areas on the Neopets website itself as they normally do) were introduced, Although they still have some neopets related ones. These banners are displayed on many site pages in three places, one at the top of the page, one at the bottom, and the other on a sidebar, making avoidance of advertisements increasingly difficult. The placement of these banners has caused heated debate among avid Neopians as to the increasing commercial content and the quality of the site. Even so, their primary method of advertising is still through creating items based on sponsor products (such as "Baby Bottle Pops", a real candy found in many American stores) or offering rare items, Neopoints, or, in one case, a special "Ice Bori" in return for signing up for sponsors' services. Neopets also features many games for sponsor's, such as "The Incredibles Split-Shot". While immersive advertising is doubtlessly effective, some believe this constitutes subliminal advertising and is therefore inherently immoral, particularly considering the target demographic. Others disagree, pointing to the fact that not only are many of the sponsors' offers now grouped on one page and are somewhat avoidable, but that no user is ever required to sign up for these offers. Neopets has said these offers and sponsor ads are to only keep the site free. In addition, you will get no ads if it is your birthday. The introduction of a premium service in which adverts are removed and special gifts given has also sparked controversy, and the introduction of a further advertisement on the bottom of the web pages has also sparked controversy, with users stating that has started "selling neopoints", something prohibited in their terms and conditions.

In October of 2004, while McDonald's was promoting Neopets plushies in their Happy Meals, a story on the Australian news show Today Tonight featured a nine-year-old boy claiming that the site requires one to gamble in order to receive enough Neopoints to feed one's Neopet, else it is sent to an orphanage. While much of this is factually incorrect (gambling is not required, nor are pets automatically sent to an orphanage if they are not fed) it is true that the website has a rather extensive collection of games of chance that are directly based on real-life games like blackjack, poker, and even lottery scratchcards. Neopets had prohibited users under the age of 13 to use most games that involve gambling. This article sparked a nation-wide controversy as concerned parents voiced their complaints about the website, prompting McDonald's to pressure Neopets into temporarily blocking Australian accounts from accessing games of chance for the duration of the promotion, which ended on November 5th. When this happened, a flurry of complaints appeared on Neopets itself when even Australians able to legally gamble could not access any game of chance on the website. Complaints quickly died down after users realized that by merely changing the country setting on their user preferences the temporary ban could be bypassed.

Still others believe that the users of Neopets are poorly treated and considered nothing more than mere statistics, that the site has lost its friendliness over the years, and that the level of customer service has degraded considerably. Many users voice the opinion that the Neopets staff freeze accounts too often and without good reason; data from, which rates virtual pet sites, shows the frozen user amount is 45%. Some dispute Neopets' registered users count, which has reached over 94 million, a figure Neopets often cites in promotional campaigns. A large percentage of these users are multiple secondary accounts owned by one person, frozen accounts or accounts no longer in use. Such accounts are never deleted, and even accounts that have not been accessed since the creation of the site linger. The actual number of active accounts is around 11 million and the number of individual users is almost certainly less than this. Groups of people believing that Neopets treats users poorly and who are also against the immersive advertising have formed Anti-Neopets websites expressing their views. These Anti-Neopian groups have bought domain names for their movement, talked about their movement on the Neopets forums, and have even reported Neopets for what they believe to be potential copyright violations.

It has also been rumoured that Neopets is closely affiliated with the controversial Church of Scientology through CEO Doug Dohring. The impact of his beliefs on itself is not apparent, though Dohring has been quoted as saying "Having used his technology in every business activity... Mr. Hubbard's organizational concepts are always with me" (according to the Hubbard College of Administration.

Neopets In The Real World

Neopets has branched out, and in addition to the website, it now also produces a range of merchandise, such as plushies, stickers, and hand-held video games (The Darkest Faerie is coming out soon). The merchandise retails at many mainstream outlets such as Wal-Mart, Target, and Limited Too. There are also exclusively online retailers involved, such as, which was the first outlet for Neopets merchandise.

In September 2003, Wizards of the Coast released the Neopets Trading Card Game—a collectible card game based on the online characters and setting. It is distributed by card shops, as well as Wal-Mart and Target. To date, there have been six individual "sets" of cards (a base set and five expansions), with the sixth set recently released. Most of the card releases are associated with "plots," or stories, on the site (notably the most recent set, Curse of Maraqua). This is another controversial marketing move, which has at once managed to endear and estrange players from the site.

In 2004 Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc. announced the upcoming June 2004 release of Neopets: The Darkest Faerie™, available exclusively for the PS one™ and PlayStation® game consoles. However, on March 2005 they confirmed that they had already began remaking the game for the PS2. Developed and created by Sony Computer Entertainment America's Santa Monica studio, NeoPets, Inc. and The Code Monkeys Ltd., Neopets: The Darkest Faerie is an action/adventure game that extends the online entertainment of and provides a fully interactive offline experience. With more than 50 million registrations in the past three years, is the fastest growing youth community in the world. is consistently ranked among the top 10 stickiest sites on the Internet by Nielsen Net Ratings, generating more than two billion page views per month.

Neopets: The Darkest Faerie includes hundreds of different Neopets from the popular Web site. Players enter the land of Neopia® and can take the role of Grimilix the Grundo, Tormund the Lupe or Sally the Aisha (each with its own distinct personality) who are on a mission to rid Neopia of a shrewd and cunning enemy - the evil Darkest Faerie. Together, they will travel through new lands, meet strange inhabitants, and have the opportunity to acquire 450 valuable items and discover a mystery unseen by Neopian eyes.

In March 2005 it was confirmed that the Neopets team had also begun work on a Neopets film (which the creators of the site, Adam and Donna had kept secret from their own staff until it was confirmed). When informing the users of this, they also implied that there may be more then one Neopets film in the future (although, of course, this will depend entirely on the success of their first film).

Also, Neopets has an extensive merchandise catalog for users, complete with a printable wishlist and a list of your collected items, both of which you can edit.

Just For Fun: Neopian Pop Culture

Aside from the fact that Neopets has its own vibrant user culture, there are many references in the site to movies, video games, and more. The List of references in Neopets article contains an extensive list of such references.

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