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Neopets allows users to create and care for virtual pets called Neopets and explore the virtual world of Neopia. There is no set objective for the users, but they are expected to feed and care for their Neopets when they grow hungry or ill. Neopets will not die if neglected, but their health can limit their gameplay. Neopets come in a variety of species and colors and users can create or adopt their own. Users can obtain items to interact with their Neopet, such as books to read and toys to play with them. Neopets can be customised with certain clothing items, paint brushes, transformation potions, and accessories. Users can build a customisable Neohome for their Neopets and furnish it with furniture, wallpaper, and flooring. Neopets can battle against other Neopets or non-player characters in the Battledome but they cannot die there.
Neopia is a virtual planet with fantasy lands inhabited by Neopets and other virtual creatures. Each land has a different theme, such as pirates or prehistoric times, and their own shops, games, and attractions. Neopia follows its own calendar and time
zone, which runs concurrent with real-world Pacific Time, and has tie-ins with certain real world holidays such as Halloween and Christmas. It has its own economy and stock market based on Neopoints. Users can earn Neopoints through various
means including playing games and selling items, which can be invested or used to buy various virtual goods and services. While there is no set objective for users, interactive storylines are sometimes released that introduce changes to
the planet such as new lands.
The site is regularly updated with features like new games, items and content. In addition to the site content updated by the Neopets staff members, users also contribute content to the site. User contributions come in the form of prescreened submissions and readily editable content that is automatically filtered, such as the site's weekly electronic newspaper The Neopian Times. There are different types of submissions that will be accepted.
Users can earn Neopoints from playing games. Games come in many different genres, which include action, puzzles, and luck & chance. Most games have a set maximum earnings or playtime. Players may also earn trophies and other awards from games if they score high enough or perform better than other users. Many single-player and multi-player browser games are available. Users can also participate in contests and spotlights judged by staff to showcase the users' talents. Quests to retrieve items may also be performed for specific NPCs. Challenges may be made against other players or random players in a "World Challenge" for a prize piece and Neopoints from the jackpot for certain Flash games. Monthly competitions also exist for multiplayer games with four week-long elimination rounds.
The economy is based on Neopoints. Users can also exchange real money for Neocash, used exclusively for the NC Mall. Users can earn Neopoints through playing games, selling items, and other transactions. Once earned, they can be saved in the bank, used to buy items from other users or non-player character (NPC) shops, used to buy and sell stocks in the Neopian stock market called the Neodaq, or used to buy various other things. Items can be bought from shops found throughout the world of Neopia that are run by NPCs who may allow haggling. Users can open their own shops to sell items, sometimes after obtaining those items at a lower price from sources such as other shops or charities. Items may also be exchanged through trade or auction.
Neopets has a community for users to chat with and contact other users. Each user has their own profile they can edit with HTML and CSS and are represented by avatars provided by the website, as users cannot upload their own. Users may request other users to be "Neofriends" or block other users from contacting them. To comply with COPPA, users under 13 years of age cannot access any of the site's communication features without sending in parental consent via fax. The main features include:
- NeoMail, a personal in-game communication system like regular email. Users can write messages to other users and restrict who can contact them through NeoMail.
- Neoboards, public discussion boards for on-topic discussions. Users can enter their own "neoHTML", a restricted form of BBCode, to customise their posts and signatures.
- Guilds, groups of users with similar interests and their own message board.