Advertisements, Popspiracy Theories, Social Media, The Missing Link

The Missing Link: Poptropica’s Glitchy Cash Cow

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this post represent those of the author, not the entire Poptropica Help Blog or its community. Further discussion can be found in the comments.)

Hi Gs,

In 2013, Jeff Kinney was interviewed on Skype. One of his points was that in order to keep up with the times, they would have to update to mobile soon. Now, I for one object. Poptropica is not a mobile game. There are 40+ islands online to play, each taking 1-2 hours, some exceeding, with amazing art, dialogue, story, and overall gameplay. Poptropica is just simply not a flippant game that you play whenever you’re bored. You have to set down and devote yourself to an island.

So the absurd idea that kids aren’t playing Poptropica online any more is, well, absurd. Poptropica is a game for your computer, it’s a desktop game. I’m excited for the day whenever they actually release a desktop version. With that said, Poptropica didn’t really seem to care about the obvious facts. They went ahead and started to pursue mobile.


And in this process, they became extremely greedy, and lost a lot of their quality. Here’s why:

I’ve extracted the Android Poptropica app, and found some key files that have traces of a company called ‘Milkman Games’. Looking that up, I found that this company specializes in converting flash games into apps – Android and iOS. With this said, you have to realize that Poptropica isn’t solely a flash game. It uses PHP & a number of other codes, which contributes to the majority of the major game play elements.


So in an attempt to fix the game and be able to quickly and cheaply convert it into an app, they rebuilt the engine – in a matter of months, and with different developers than from the original game. This lead to what we know as SUIs. Anyone who has played SUIs know – they’re not as good as classic Poptropica islands. They aren’t as fluid, they’re glitchy, and likely to crash.

This is the one bad thing that’s happening to Poptropica.

Now we know the reason, and Poptropica can’t keep it under wraps any more. To prove it, you can just take a peek in the files. They have ‘Home’ Island, which is Tutorial Island on the app – verbatim, and updated to match the app. In fact, that’s where I got the Arcade sneak peaks.


So with this said, Poptropica’s little cheap scheme has been unveiled, and sadly, it’s growing every day as something irreversible. Unless the team gets their heads screwed on straight, Poptropica is going to become something not even considered a game, even less-so than what the gaming community once considered it.



22 thoughts on “The Missing Link: Poptropica’s Glitchy Cash Cow”

  1. I’d have to object to that first objection: I don’t think it’s wrong for Poptropica to be pursuing mobile – plenty of gamers play on mobile, and Poptropica being a point-and-click adventure makes it quite adaptable to mobile and touch screens. It helps them reach a wider audience, and while an island can be enjoyable in one sitting, it’s also possible to save and return whenever you have time (surely this is applicable to desktop players too).

    As for using ‘Milkman Games’ to convert the game to work for both mobile and online, it’s not a bad idea in itself, but yes, SUIs online have been known to be a lot glitchier than the classic islands, and that needs to be fixed (though it’s been better recently). Still, the benefits of having a bigger screen and ambient music are some things we didn’t have before.

    Plus, not sure what Home/Tutorial Island has to do with this. 😛

    1. While I agree that point and click games are great for mobile, Poptropica isn’t one. It’s a side-scroller, and a combination of a lot of things.
      Also, Tutorial Island isn’t online, and probably won’t be on the site ever.

      1. HP, I completely agree- I haven’t even bothered with buying islands on mobile. I never use it, and the game just doesn’t work for mobile devices. Poptropica was made for desktop, and they should keep it that way. (also I’m sick of the crappy quality of the SUIs)

      2. Poptropica being whatever it is, it seems quite adaptable to mobile to me. 😉

        Whether or not Tutorial Island will ever be on the online version remains to be seen, but I’m not sure what the problem is. The ‘Home’ Island on the app now, with its Shop and Arcade, serves as what the Store and common rooms are on the online version.

  2. I have to agree with Fishy on this one. Frankly, in my perspective, Poptropica is perfect for mobile devices. It has the right controls, and it’s one of those games you can play while on a road trip or just simply to play when you’re bored. Plus, it gives openings to those who don’t have a constant supply of Internet. The controls can easily be converted to the app; you can observe this when you play on the mobile and notice the smooth movement. I’ve noticed several times where I don’t have access to Wi-Fi, but the app still allows me to play on the go. Sure, it’s not exactly a point-and-click, but it has the same idea — just click and hold.

    And sure, Poptropica is getting more greedy. But the question is: too greedy? I don’t think so. In fact, I don’t really know how they used to make big profits with their old setup in the first place. Not many people have Membership, which is their main supply of money, and the Membership doesn’t even cost much. Yes, SUI’s are more glitchy, and possibly more sloppy, but are they really all that bad? They give us bigger screens, sounds, and music. Of course that would create a harder environment to fix errors in the platform. I think the problem here is that we’re focusing on the negatives and aren’t really being grateful for the positives.

    I also don’t know what the Home/Tutorial Island has to do with it. 😛

    1. First of all, they make advertisements for the biggest franchises. Like, seriously. They’re doing fine financially.
      What are the positives? You have to restart an island a couple times to even get through it, it’s sloppy, and overall just broken. 😦

      1. They may be in decent shape financially, which could be why they’re able to expand (which is not a bad thing in itself).

        The positives of SUIs, as SW stated, are the bigger screens and music. As for glitches, that may be subjective to the experience of each user, but not everyone has had to restart an island a couple of times to finish it, and glitches aren’t unheard of on classic islands either. They’re not perfect, but I wouldn’t say they’re broken either. 😛

      2. They didn’t even need to be re-engineered – remember that Poptropica is a flash game, and the art is usually vector based.
        And music has been added before to classic Pop – no problems there. It has to do with that mobile updating. It just isn’t a good product.

      3. Flash is getting outdated, especially when it comes to mobile. The need to re-engineer comes from wanting to expand to mobile (where clearly a significant portion of users come from since they find it a worthwhile investment), and while the new product has its faults, it has gotten better and has its upsides.

        Classic Pop did have some sound effects, but not ambient music the whole way through – whether or not it was possible isn’t something I can confirm, but perhaps it was easier for them to add music in the new format, or perhaps it was simply because they had the budget to hire a music composer around the same time they introduced SUIs and decided to roll that into the package.

      4. As for the advertisements, true, but they also usually do something extra for them, like a game. Even with such big franchises, it’s hard to be able to afford the music, pay the workers, pay bills, program, illustrate, etc. with such a direct income. Like I said, music, sound, bigger screen, being able to play on the go without Internet, and just it having the Poptropica feel in general throughout it. The negatives are actually quite small — it being glitchy, and possibly having to restart the island. But all in all, Poptropica is still Poptropica.

  3. I agree with HPuter. I hate how great sites are doing that nowadays. Poptropica just isn’t the same now. It’s sad.

    1. I agree with HPuterpop because restarting islands because of glitches has been bothering me for a while now.

  4. HEY STAFF! Just a heads up: I just found a Caprisun Pushplay Advertisement in Night Watch Island, where you get the balloon launcher. Press the spacebar when holding it and your character shoots other Poptropicans with blue, indigo, and green balloons.

  5. I agree with Fishy and Silver Wolf. I think it’s perfectly fine for Poptropica to be expanding into the mobile gaming world. While I feel that Poptropica’s main home is on the computer, the app helps give the game to a wider audience. I could go into more detail on my opinion, but I think the past comments and your own post have already provided enough information on the subject.

  6. I think that the SUIs are a pretty good update for Poptropica.

    There have been negative effects to the transition (such as a few weird glitches, but classic Poptropica was far from perfect) and the loss of a few features (like the map (why?), and ability to access other islands’ item cards), but it hasn’t been all bad. They gave us bigger screen space (no more having to use Ctrl+Scroll to get a bigger picture, while simultaneously breaking the immersion), wonderful background music (listen to Jeff Hiem’s Soundcloud once in a while), and better performance (seriously, going from classic Poptropica to Poptropica HD – especially vice versa – makes it feel completely different).

    Sure, they may be motivated to make more money off of mobile users, but they haven’t been completely greedy – they could have forced you to buy every single episode there is, instead of offering it as early access; they could have forced you to buy membership to store your costumes, just like the desktop version; they could have forced you to stop playing every so often to “recharge” an “energy” meter and offered a refill as an IAP (in-app purchase). But instead, they had early access as an IAP, eventually releasing the islands for free. They let you buy cosmetic items for a fairly low price. And it’s all optional – you don’t have to buy a single thing. The point is that this isn’t as much of a cash grab as you make it out to be.

    Some of Poptropica’s best islands, in my view, came out during the SUI era: Survival, Arabian Nights, Poptropicon, etc, as well as remastered editions of older islands (Shrink Ray, 24 Carrot, Mythology, etc). I enjoyed playing through these islands, and enjoyed them even more with the SUI update. They can still make good quality islands, even if sometimes they don’t quite come out right.
    The Creators have brought the desktop experience of the game, cleaned it up and made it touch and desktop friendly, and have spread it to mobile devices, where even more people may be able to see it and play it, some of whom haven’t played Poptropica in ages. These players are now rediscovering Poptropica in a format they’re more likely to play – a format they can take anywhere and play anytime, even offline. I think that these facets of the Poptropica app make it worth porting to mobile, without sacrificing the stuff that makes it Poptropica.

    Now, if you’ve bothered to read all the way down here, can I ask you something HP?
    1) Why did you label this Missing Link if its just an editorial against SUIs and the App?
    2) What does Home Island have to do with this? I think a tutorial island is relatively harmless…

  7. I agree with everyone (just stepped into the conversation a few weeks later OwO.. oops..) Anyway, everyone who thinks that making Poptropica on mobile is fine… I agree. There are a lot of mobile users and Poptropica can be played on the go. But it’s kind of upsetting to me because.. well, I’m not really comfortable with my phone and I already did a lot of islands on my computer. So why replay them? The controls are kind of tricky and there are people who are more comfortable with the computer than the phone… Plus why do we have to pay for some islands? I think they are doing fine financially, as mentioned above, so why do we have to pay? So people mainly resort to the computer for islands that we have to pay for on the phone.. I generally think that the Poptropica on computers is more popular and more comfortable for players, but you shouldn’t take the mobile one away either. If the “population” of players playing mobile gets too low, they will take the mobile away though.. Hmm..

    1. Poptropica actually phased out having to pay for islands on the mobile app some time ago, which means the only thing on the app that costs money are extra costumes.

      It still costs Poptropica to keep the app up, so it’s not that unreasonable to charge a little – but yes, considering that islands online are free, it’s a good idea for them to keep them free on mobile as well. 🙂

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