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Direction of pet sites in the future?


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I've been noticing for quite some time that virtual pet sites and similar sites in general (dress up/avatar sites like gaia, etc) seem to have a dying population of players. With the older "neopets" generation growing older, and subsequent sites also slowly dying/growing inactive/smaller with (seemingly) few new users(especially in younger age groups from what ive seen), i feel perhaps its the platform/method of pet sites as a whole that could no longer be as attractive.

I know for a while, flash equivalents of virtual pet sites (eg. Moshi Monsters, Happy Pets, or Pet Society on FB) rose to fame for a bit, but have died out by now.

I do think perhaps mobile applications (eg. Neko Atsume) or even going into a more general category of farming-type games on pc/consoles (eg. Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley) might be a close equivalent to the game population, but felt it was lacking a bit much, especially in the /social/ aspect of these applications (there are def events, friend-bonuses, shares, etc. but that doesnt have the full capacity of what most pet sites have in a community, inclusive of a full economy of trade and currency, which i personally found very important to my pet site experience growing up).

that being said, what direction do you think virtual pet sites could/should take from here to be more "innovative" and connect/adapt better to recent tech/entertainment trends? and what aspects do you think should be carried over/might not be adaptable into newer platforms?

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I have noticed this as well. I was a huge fan of Neopets, still am just because of my childhood. But if I was never born in that time where pet sites/web-based applications were popular, I probably wouldn't give them a chance. Nowadays, I'm playing Far Cry, Fallout, etc. I think what a lot of pet sites/web applications are missing is a good story line. When I even play on my console, if a game doesn't have a good story line that captivates me (like FFXV), I just can't get interested to begin with. First impressions are everything.

I think pet sites as a whole need to adapt more roleplaying elements and integrate a good base story line that gives players a sense of the world they are playing in. It would help them grow an attachment to characters. Right now, NPCs are so "flat", that I just don't have that connection with them like I do a character from FFXV (like Ignis.. even the enemy NPCs).

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I feel "multiplayer" in the sense of the word definitely is a direction that pet sites beed to incorporate/trends these days seem to turn a lot into. My only struggle to understand recently is in /what way/ we could incorporate it, since the old way we used to do so were forums, and they dont seem to generally be as active/attractive anymore?

I'm actually personally not too sure abt rpg/game immersion per se tho. Ik some sites that rlly push for a solid story line (ie. Dappervolk has been rlly focusing on it), but they still seem a bit... detached from interests of a lot... though i do think it is very useful for attention retention and otherwise, it doesnt seem to be enough to grab users a lot of times to stay with that alone. A difficult path as well if we do stick with the typical web-browser/web-based application that we have for pet sites these days, since it feels a LOT like old-school roleplaying with texts vs actual actions.

Possibly this could also be a personal bias tho since im not big on rpgs :-0a


Edited by h2o2
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Don't be Evil Neopets. Be Pokemon. 

Here is what Pokemon looked like 10 years ago, in 2008. 


Here's a shot from last year's Pokemon Let's go Eevee. 


Pokemon is one of the most successful franchises ever, and it's no surprise why. A new game of some sort has come out every year since 2000. An expansion (also known as a Generation) comes about every 3-5 years. And with that comes a new opportunity to introduce new players to the series and returning players to what has changed since last time. Pokemon feels fresh every time we dip our toes in it because it is. They've made improvements to virtually every feature since the original games and rebuilt the engine from the ground-up several times over the years. 

Pokemon isn't the only game that does this. Super Mario, Final Fantasy, Madden, Call of Duty, and Grand Theft Auto are some of the bestselling video game franchises out there. They've managed to find the not-so-secret sauce that makes their games feel fresh to newcomers while still embracing attributes that make them nostalgic for returning fans. 

Your game a Hit? Great. Now put out a sequel. And improve on almost every aspect. 

Browser Games are treated as a different type of beast than their Console Game counterparts. Usually, a Browser Game is built once and every feature that comes after it launches is built on top of that no matter out outdated or inefficient that becomes. 

Over time, rebuilding the underlying engine or revamping an outdated feature becomes out of the question for various reasons. You might not have the resources due to declining sales. Your remaining users might resist change. Your to-do list is growing. Or you're overwhelmed by your options and don't want to do what Neopets did and bet on the wrong horse and lose. So the game falls into a rut and your users get bored and leave because you're unwilling, or perhaps unable, to change. 

I think a Browser Petsim can become a Smash Hit, but only if it breaks the cycle above.


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The future of traditional browser based virtual pet sites is in making sure it's 100% mobile friendly (not manually stuck with navigating an outdated game). Less time on PC, more time on mobile, most pet sites not so friendly to devices people are spending more time is probably playing a big role there.

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