Let’s preface this with, yes I am a 90’s kid and yes, I had a couple of Tamagotchi in my life. It all started I believe with one from 101 Dalmations. I also then had a Pikachu one and I had a few smaller ones along the way, from monsters through to just ordinary pets. For the unaware, a Tamagotchi was a small device which you could carry on a keychain. On this device was a little virtual pet, or creature that you had to take care of, from feeding, playing with and even sometimes “cleaning up” after your pet. I, like many kids from that era, loved Tamagotchi… But why hasn’t it translated so successfully onto mobile?
Why Aren’t There Many Virtual Pet Games?
You can certainly say that the market has shifted. When Android was first becoming popular, we saw a small spat of these games. We had examples such as Talking Tom, a virtual talking cat who had some rather amusing animations. A virtual pet game that focused on levelling up was Clumsy Ninja, where you improved your ninja over a long period of time. You would poke him, knock him about the place and he’d learn to be less clumsy, by learning to stand his ground more frequently against you. Simple, easy to understand and most importantly, it was a lot of fun.
So in 2019, I decided to go and download Clumsy Ninja and you know what I was met with? A game that hadn’t been updated for more modern phones. My phone, the Sony Xperia 1, was released in June this year. Clumsy Ninja just hadn’t been kept up to date and the genre has, pretty much, dried out. Now-a-days, we have games which are more about collecting as many different cats as possible, which is fine, but not really the same type of game. But then it struck me – You know who’s really missed a trick in all this?
I loved Neopets and I think many of us did. For the uninitiated, Neopets was (and still is) a virtual pet website. It’s a free website, but it was notorious back in the day for the semi-promotion of gambling and use of lots of adverts. For web developers, Neopets sort of helped to get people to grips with the idea of advertising to pull its weight in revenue – Indeed, Neopets was a big contributor to a lot of early web discussions and yeah, it was great fun. There was a strange community around it, but all in all, people loved their virtual pets. I remember my first little Techo, he was adorable and bright blue.
Anyway, I bring up Neopets as I think they really missed a trick. There’s a lot to dissect when you look through the history of Neopets, at least in terms of ownership of the Neopets, Inc. company. There was also discussions about the company behind Neopets working on other titles, including this Mobile Game. So it’s clear that Neopets is still around, the company is still working on development – But they’re not working on making Neopets available to the mobile market and… Why not?
There’s a huge void in this market, which really could do with someone coming along. Oh why not Pokémon, minus the collection side of it? Well, it’s to do with brand awareness. People typically pick up Pokémon to work on catching them all – It was the franchises slogan for ages. Neopets however, they’ve fallen from grace… Why not use this time, their developers and their creativity to rise again? Why not create a new Neopets for Android/iOS? Hey, if you’re a developer who’s looking for their next project, get to it! Then let me know. I’ll download it!
Anyway, bring back the Tamagotchi (and the virtual pet) I say.