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Why Virtual Pet Sites Vanish

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There's a rabbithole of a topic I've thought about for a while now. Often times I talk to my husband about it and he seems to find it concerning that so many vp sites seems to just up and vanish, die, etc. I've seen a lot of virtual pet sites just up and go, many of them saying no word to their communities or not even updating social media to say they're closed. BooPets comes to mind, I remember it being fairly popular but seems to fall off the face of my internet research around 2015. I've heard people talk about its closing, but finding records via Googling doesn't always work and (some) Discord communities, virtual pet sites that allow cross trading, and sites like this seem to be really the only last remaning source of why some sites die. VPL was a big source of admins stating closing of their sites, but those records (and the records of some very obscure pet games) are gone. 

I don't know if others talk about this. The amount of virtual pet lost media out there is massive. I remember many early 2000s (2005-2010) that are basically so lost not even their name is remembered, only vague descriptions of pets/design/etc. I know many long for sites like Teripets and the recently (domain wise) gone Misticpets to come back, and sometimes I wonder just why they don't - or owners don't sell off assets if they hold the copyrights to creatures/maps/etc for revival. There was a popular wolf/rpg/open world grid based game where users could buy custom wolves and it seemed really popular but I can't even find that now - I do know it had some drama around it. I remember Suta-Ratio/eevee1/Kuitsuku's posting about her art she was doing for Nutrinopets, which seemed to be fairly popular and went from 2004-2011 and explanations seem to be linked to blogs that are long gone; and the only remaining art of Nutrinopets seems to be Kuitsuku's old dA account (as Suta-Ratio is gone now as well, and while she mentioned other artists working for the site in the early years I can't seem to find who they were or more pet art.)

On the flip side, there's sites that seem to just hang in there. Zetapets/Mythodreas comes to mind first. Creaturebreeder. Ichumon. They've been around for, gosh, a long time. It's admirable. Daylightpets has hung in there as well, even had a recent update hoping for a revival. Solpets recently started a revival as well. But overall, it seems like vps just seem to ghost. I know a lot of them are passion projects, and it's always sad to see them go.

I guess this just interests me as I have a fascination with lost media, and virtual petsites seem to just have a lot of lost content surrounding them as a whole. It's sad to see sites with all this love and time and thought put into them, just go. I've seen so many just vanish, without any notice, or just kinda die after being abruptly abandon by the entire team. It makes me wonder about my own vp game my husband and I are developing.

Is it unavoidable? Do any other devs/artists/writers have these thoughts? Any games your remember or miss? And virtual pet lost media you long for (for me, old Neopets flash games/pages top my vp lost media wish list along with just wanting to find and database lost virtual pet pet/colours art.)

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It is very much a rabbit hole, but a rabbit hole I dive deep into every so often.  As you said, so much hard work just lost to the world.  WaybackMachine can only do so much.

Last year, I built up a second version of VirtualPetDirectory.com and rebranded it to OnlineGaming.Directory.  One of the big issues I had with VPD was we didn't have any "offline storage" of the content, thinking that the owners should manage their own.  This was mostly in keeping with "we are a simple directory of information".  But now, with OGD, and GameSiteArt.com (linked with OGD) I've started the journey to revive the images as best I can.  Of course, I need people's help for that.

I have the assets for Icepets (which is still up and running), Misticpets, Kuepets and Cyopets available to me (I was either the owner, or was given consent by the owner).  That being said since the site didn't build a lot of traction, I stopped uploading content to them unfortunately because it was a fairly time consuming process for me.

I've tried to reach out to PaulSonny a few times in regards to Boopets because that was another site I really liked the art for, but similar to the whole development situation with him, where I just got no response unfortunately.

A much more recent loss of a game site is Verpets.  My hope is that it is still possible to revive but it may be dead in the water too :(

I can't explain "why they don't sell off the material", maybe they think it's not worth the hassle.  Basically at that point they are probably at the end of the ropes with the site and just want it over.  I know that Misticpets is a bit of a special situation.  Basically the server is still intact, it's just at a data centre and not turned on (and unable to be turned on remotely), so we are just waiting on a trip there.

I absolutely loved digging a bit and seeing that Mythodreas still was up and running.  Unfortunately over the years I lost touch with the owner, I'm hoping that their story is preserved.

The lost content is absolutely brutal.  It's my goal to dig as much of it as possible out of the graves that they currently are in to hopefully showcase the work that was done.  One of the future plans for GameSiteArt.com was to add in art attributions to the because it's the artists that lose out even more.  They used to be able to use the sites as a showcase for their artwork, but when they are gone (which is normally outside of their control) they lose their hard work.

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Man, I was doing research for my own website and returning to websites I grew up with and was inspired by, and I realized how much of neopets(my biggest inspiration) has been lost due to obsoletion and lost code during website ownership transfers. I was going deep into youtube to find some of the oldest videos available of kids around 2000s (who are adults now) uploading videos of the old neopets site, and the nostalgia hit me like a bag of bricks. The old neopets interface (completely gone), the old neopet creation page (gone), and even now the website is being dissolved alive by the obsoletion of flash. It's now just a banner on the website advertising their merch of what use to be.

Youtube though the saving grace of the 2000s has preserved some of the old mc donalds merchandise from kids uploading videos of them playing with them, and the old neopets assets/character webpage art from people making early 2000's amvs. Sometimes have to search unconventional titles like "neopets.mov" or "neopets movie 2003".

I'm unsure if you can find other lost website art that way, but it's worth a try. Youtube is a treasure trove of accidental archives.

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Not sure if you are interested, but here's what I found through youtube!
I found the pet websites you were looking for I think, archived in some fashion even if small.
Not a whole lot, but bits and pieces. While you can't directly pull jpgs from the videos, you
can relive the experience of the website from watching someone else play it or use it.

Granted these won't help with finding out why they died, but my surmise is being too similar to neopets and dying to the competition against neopets. I notice a lot of these youtube videos depict websites that completely mimic early neopets to a T. Marapets founded around the same time went a completely different route than neopets and thus was capable of surviving on it's own. Webtraffic would play a big role I think in a websites survival. This doesn't negate the possibility of internal drama within development. You could interview the boopets artist though and ask about their time working on the website. I find the topic of archiving internet history fascinating! It's fun to search for things in unconventional places!

To sympathize with your concerns, I grew up adoring flipnote and a lot of flipnote art/animation as become lost to the internet! Say, for the grace of youtube and its ease of access to kids uploading the things they loved back in the day. The quick rise and fall of a website too could be due to lack of financial gain (in flipnotes case) and obsoletion with modern webbrowsing.

Teripets: Teripets appears to be using a reworked version of neopets original code. (Neopets Classic Archive)

Misticpets: Wow! This is early 2000s design! I am astonished bits and pieces of it are still available to be seen on youtube! Appears to also be using something similar to neopets classic. I notice this with a lot of old websites. :0

Boopets - This is all I could find of it! But the artists behind the website appear to be currently active on youtube as of 2 weeks ago.


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