PHB Specials

An Open Letter to Poptropica II

Back in 2016, the PHB wrote an open letter to Poptropica with suggestions based on players’ frustrations. And Poptropica responded! While not every tip was taken, the letter did kick off some good discussions. Now in 2022, we’re back with another, and we’d love to hear your thoughts again. Enjoy!

Dear Poptropica,

Six years have passed and many things have changed since the last letter, from the fanbase to the state of the game as a whole.

The Poptropica community has largely been very passionate. We’ve loved how an online Flash game for kids could have such interesting concepts and fun characters. For years, the Creators spilled their hearts into this game, and it showed. Poptropica was not only intended to be a fun game in the present, but to “inspire a next generation of creators” in the future. But lately, that fire seems to have gone out. And it really boils down to one major point:

We’re not seeing convincing signs that Poptropica can or will fulfill the promise of bringing back the old islands, or at least bringing to newer content the quality we’ve come to love from the classics.

Sure, we know it’s not easy to rebuild the islands that used to live on Flash. But considering the pace in which they were made (at its peak in 2012, Poptropica released 9 islands in a year), it’s a bit baffling how they’re now taking months and years to be ported into Haxe. It doesn’t help that we haven’t heard many updates on this front, beyond the news at the beginning of this year that episodic islands are up next.

Bay Bees Illegal rafting? That’s a paddling.

While we can’t speak for everyone, we do know that many fans (including myself, Maryann) rarely touch the game in its current state. A significant portion of the fanbase we know are only passionate about the Poptropica of the past, not the present.

Poptropica may have always been branded as a kids’ game, but its older stories held a special depth that made it more than a superficial experience. The many fans who grew up with the game and still find things to appreciate about it as teens and young adults can attest to that. But Poptropica’s newer content doesn’t quite capture that magic. Some Poptropica fans, like Jia, who created the Poptropica Dating Sim as a silly but genuine “love letter to the game,” don’t see the appeal in sticking around if Poptropica only gets more childish. For Jia, “That love’s lost.”

Yes, there are still regular players and fans with a more positive outlook about the game’s current state. But how much longer do you think you can keep them with unfulfilled promises and little content in the game? Why should players bother with cool costumes and pet accessories when our avatars barely spend any time wearing them in island adventures?

The Drop: Wait for it…

We know the Poptropica team has changed. We’ve seen top staffers let go unwillingly, confirmed that founder Jeff Kinney no longer works with Pop, and heard the news of former CEO Jess Brallier resigning after his team was devalued by new ownership. All that obviously changes dynamics, but we’re not here to stir up drama. This letter is about the quality and longevity of the game, and compared to the golden days, the current team just hasn’t matched the creative passion of what was.

Poptropica is at a great risk of becoming lost media, and that is sad. You show ads and references to beloved characters from the old islands who aren’t even present in the game. Are you showing that you still hold onto the promise of old islands, or are you just leading us on?

We’re not making insane demands. We just want a quality game, and to know if we’re hoping for something that won’t happen. It’s hard to believe you are hard at work porting lost islands when you put so much of your time and energy into side-quests with detailed and new animations, and even expanding into Roblox — building onto a game that isn’t yours. It’s fine to try new things, but are there resources left for what players want most: the old islands?

Ascend: You will have seen the mountaintop.

You can tell us Poptropica is doing fine now — that it’s not dying — but that’s becoming harder to believe when we look at what the game has become. It’s hard to believe when you used to publish bestselling books and were even within reach of a TV series. Even the player activity and fandom isn’t as big as it used to be. Young and old, we’ve always wanted our perspectives heard by the Pop team, but a lack of communication on our key questions and concerns has not helped.

I love what this game could have been. I love telling other fans how Astro-Knights is still on the Wikipedia explanation of clockpunk, because it’s one of the few examples of such a niche but interesting genre. I loved Jeff Heim’s music scores that went above and beyond, including the soundtracks for islands that have yet to return.

I’ve written quite cringey fanfiction which fortunately was made prior to my online presence. I’ve posted fan art on Instagram of characters that I thought could have been so interesting if they were to return in future islands, or if Pop made more spin-off books focusing on them. And currently, I have been writing and sharing The Villain Saga, a spec script with said characters. But I don’t know how much longer I can keep creating hype for something that doesn’t exist anymore save for a fan-made archive that one person made in their free time.

Dust to Dust: This gemstone is a smash hit.

Without a passionate team putting out quality islands, Poptropica looks bound for its end in the coming years. Other games and media can, and have, grabbed the attention of your once loyal fans. At the rate things are going, most of the old islands will still be lost to time, and your aging fanbase may not stick around for your next surprises. Whether we’re talking from a business or creative standpoint, it could be game over.

Please prove me wrong.

Castori honorem ~ Maryann/Smart Bubbles

30 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Poptropica II”

  1. Thank you so much MaryannTheConqueror for writing this letter, it is great that someone is addressing the Poptropica leaders directly about what we feel about the game!

  2. Thank you, Maryann, for posting this. I grew up playing this game and it’s honestly crushing to see what it’s become. I hope the leaders see this and fulfill their forgotten promises!

  3. Wow. You said it perfectly! I just really really wish they’ll pay attention. They haven’t been doing that much anymore.

  4. Thanks for writing this open letter, Maryann, and allowing me to play a role in editing too. Fans have been feeling these frustrations for a while and it’s good to put language to those thoughts. Poptropica and its team might look different now, but we’re still hoping they can keep their spirit of inspirational storytelling as they move forward — and be honest and open with us about the dream of getting old islands ported. We’ll be waiting, but who knows for how long?

  5. I agree with this open letter. I believe that Poptropica does not want to tell its fans that they can not bring back the old islands. If they told us that, then the majority of us would leave the Fandom.
    It is also strange that they are spending time on side quests and episodic islands than a well-known island such as Mystery Train.
    I also believe that Poptropica is under staffed and they can not make islands as fast as they use to.
    They stated in one blog post (I cannot remember which) that they needed money to create islands.
    They need to stop wasting time and resources on new animations, social media, monthly contests, and weekly updates to the Pop Store. They had more than enough time to port the older islands in since Flash announced in 2017 that it would be shutting down. So they basically had 3 years in advance to port the islands before 2020 came.

    1. 110% agree! Like you said, even if they are understaffed (and I hope to never come off as being overly demanding), the timeline still makes no sense. I like the costume contests but not if the frequency of them is harming the game’s development.

      Sadly, at the end of the day, fans will leave either way. If they’re truly not bringing them back this is just making a prolonged and bitter process.

  6. this letter was pretty informative and i’d like to thank you for that, i would consider myself a new fan and woah. i didn’t even know about the changes in staff. i really like poptropica, and i hope the game will be able to find it’s footing again.

  7. Perhaps I am too much of a negative thinker, however, I believe the significance of this letter as a plea to restore Poptropica to its former glory is rather null. All of our efforts in this regard are often overlooked by the Poptropica Creators. That being said, I must applaud you for your command of language. Most impressive.

      1. I appreciate the fact that you have taken the time to respond to each comment that has been left on this post.

      1. I would be interested in seeing if they actually respond because I don’t think they’re going to acknowledge this, unfortunately. I know the creators used to read the PHB, but they’ve been ignoring fans’ complaints for a while now

  8. I agree. At the rate this is going, Poptropica is going to be completely dead. They’re not providing what the older fans want, but they’re also not doing anything that really appeals to a new, younger audience either. The fanbase is dying

    1. Yes, this is definitely true, but it seems like the creators just don’t care at this point. I don’t know what their game plan is, but they’ve got to figure out a way to fix this before it’s too late.

      1. And I agree, it seems like the creators don’t really care. I mean, on one hand, they keep tweeting about how Poptropica isn’t dead, but on the other, they aren’t doing anything to improve the website. They probably don’t care because they know that at this point, there’s nothing they can do to make Poptropica as popular as it used to be. Even if they somehow managed to attract some new fans, the game wouldn’t be nearly as popular as it was years ago. There’s just no way, unfortunately

    2. By the way, I totally get how you’re getting really busy and don’t have all that time you used to have for Poptropica, but if you’re ever bored sometime one day in the summer, I’d really appreciate it if you kept making videos, just every once in a while. They’re really all I have to hang on to Classic Poptropica.

      1. Hey Silver Shell,
        I just posted a new movie yesterday, but I wasn’t planning on making any more videos, at least not for a while. I’ll see if I have any time over the summer, although I have other plans for summer break. I may post some more short videos every now and then, but I probably won’t make any more long videos. If I have any updates, I’ll post them on my channel’s community page. When I get a chance, I might work on a couple more short videos.

  9. Even back in the years of 2017-2018 before the Poptropica creators destroyed the common rooms, I would still play Poptropica often because I like playing Pathwise and Soupwords with random Poptropicans in the common rooms.

    Now ever since the end of 2018 when the Poptropica Creators removed most of the common room games, yeah I would say I logged on to Poptropica rarely.

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