You’re sitting there, minding your own business, when the thought hits you. You wait for it to pass, but it lingers, forcing its way to the front of your mind. You try desperately to ignore it, but the guilt swallows you, occupying all of your thoughts. There’s no escaping it, the truth.
You abandoned your Neopets, you monster.
If you’re like me, chances are this sequence of events has happened to you, and in a fit of guilt-infused nostalgia, you attempted to log on to your old Neopets account to see how they were holding up. If you’re even more like me, your Neopets account is tied to an inaccessible email account with credentials that your parents wrote down on a Post-It note three houses ago.
But just because you lacked the personal responsibility as a child to both save your password and your parents’ marriage doesn’t necessarily mean your nostalgia trip has to be cut short. Through the help of the thriving—yes, thriving—Neopets community, you may be able to resurrect your account, assuming that it hasn’t been purged.
Designed and developed by two students at Nottingham University, Adam Powell and Donna Williams, Neopets launched in late 1999 and rapidly gained a dedicated player base. The web-based MMO allows players choose a customisable Neopet with which they can play various minigames, feed food, and battle in arenas. These activities are spread across 19 themed lands that players access via a world map.
By the end of 1999, Neopets was seeing 600,000 daily pageviews and required outside investment to stay afloat. By 2005, it had 25 million active players worldwide and was garnering more than 2.2 billion pageviews every month. It was around this time that Viacom purchased Neopets, overhauling the design of the website and adding promotional content.
The game became a media empire. It sported a trading card game, a plushie line, and a host of offline games. Tied up with Viacom subsidiary Nickelodeon, Neopets garnered widespread attention. On June 16, 2011, the Neopets team announced that the game had received 1 trillion page views since its inception.
Neopets was acquired by the education technology firm JumpStart in 2014. The transition proved rocky, with the site being plagued with glitches and experiencing a data breach in which the information of 70 million Neopets account members was stolen. The Neopets team under Jumpstart added no lore, leaving the game in a sort of stasis.
In 2017, China-based game publisher NetDragon acquired JumpStart. Since then, the Neopets team has taken to revamping the game, which has fallen from 2.2 billion page views per month at its peak in 2005 to 3.4 million in January, a 99 per cent decrease. But with Neopets appearing for the last two years at San Diego Comic Con, there is a proven effort on JumpStart’s side to keep the game alive. Starting in 2017, the team resumed writing lore, creating events and blogs for players to interact with.
With Neopets making at least some sort of turnaround, you might be thinking of checking in on your old pet. If you’re still using the same email address, clicking “forgot password” might be all you need to access an old account. If not, the r/neopets Discord has concocted a method for reuniting you and your virtual pets.
Step 1: Make sure your account still exists.
You can accomplish this by looking up your old username on the Neopets website. If your profile is still up, or you cannot remember your exact username, then it’s on to the next step. If you remember your username and it’s not there—sorry, you’ve been purged off the rolls.
Step 2: Get in touch with a person.
Email [email protected] with as much detailed information as you can muster: your old username, the original email or emails tied to the account, your birthday, past passwords, zip code or city the account was created in, and any Neo Cash transactions you remember.
Step 3: Go public.
If nobody reaches out to help you, the Discord recommends grabbing the attention of the support team by posting your support ticket number and a short plea on the latest post on the Neopets Facebook. If your account is actually recoverable, Neopets support will walk you through re-acquiring it.
Step 4: Please, feed your pet.
While this step is not technically required, it should go without saying that the first thing you should be doing is, you know, feeding your pet. The starving pet that you abandoned years ago? You should feed them. It may be tempting to just take a quick peek at your Neopoints balance, or slide on over to the games section, but please remember that even though Neopets can never die from hunger, they experience the agony of starvation on a constant basis. They have been forced to look at the two-thirds of a cheese omelette in your inventory for years, dreaming about the day they could turn it into one-third of a cheese omelette. Just feed them.
After feeding your pet for the first time in years and getting them back into good health, you might wonder: What now? The sheer breadth of Neopets in 2020 may seem daunting. But with content like Trudy’s Surprise, a minigame that awards players 1,500 to 100,000 Neopoints daily for a single click, Neopets offers returning players training wheels until they find their footing in the game once more. Alongside these training grounds, the r/neopets Discord is full of helpful members who are more than happy to help returning players get back in the game.
One such member is 25-year-old Kiki, who has been playing Neopets since its inception in 1999. While Kiki has taken multiple hiatuses from the game, she always finds herself drawn back to it. This time around, she joined the Discord server, where she is now a moderator.
“I enjoy helping the community with their goals,” Kiki said. “I’ve pretty much completed my ‘official’ goals on the site, and I just want to give back, as people were so kind to me.”
There’s a shocking amount of different ways to play Neopets, and the Discord has no shortage of people willing to help you understand the various gameplay mechanics. Take the seemingly simple task of running an item shop. Anyone can start a Neopets shop and sell in-game items at a price of their choosing. Choosing the right items to sell, and collecting these items, constitutes a complex process that has multiple fields of study. The Discord is dedicated to making tasks like these more accessible to newcomers.
Old players will be happy to find that nearly all of the Neopets Flash games, from Whack-A-Kass to Brucy B slots, are still up and waiting for you to earn (and lose) Neopoints on. While support for Flash is slated to end this coming December, the Neopets team has already released a roadmap for how it plans on transitioning the game away from Flash. Fansite Jellyneo.net has a compiled list of events that you and your Neopet can complete daily for various prizes. Yearly events like the Altador Cup, in which 18 teams compete in rounds of Yooyuball, are still running. With 20 years of content to parse through, there is nearly always something to do in Neopia.
After attempting to regain my own Neopets account, I was informed that my guilty conscience would never be absolved. My account had already been purged from the servers, like so many others. But just as a new goldfish is the best remedy for a heart aching from the exit of an old one, a new Neopets account can fill the void left by your old one. My new Bori and I are exploring all the facets of the game I could not fully appreciate as a seven-year-old, and only occasionally do I forget to feed him.
Whether you successfully revive your old account or find yourself in possession of a new one, Neopets in 2020 will offer you a surprisingly robust meta-game to explore. With a friendly community, an active development team, and multiple quality-of-life improvements, Neopets has transformed over the years into one of the most accessible time-killers available. Just make sure that this time, you write down your password somewhere other than a single Post-It.
Nicolas Perez is a freelance journalist and student at University of California, Irvine. He’s on Twitter @Nic_Perez_.