Guest Posts, Reviews

A longtime player’s look at Poptropica 👀

Hey Poptropicans, this is a guest post by Comical Dragon. Enjoy!

Hi all! My name is Comical Dragon. I’m a longtime Poptropica player and PHB reader. I’m not going to say how old I am, but I am old enough to remember the Flash days of Poptropica, when new islands and ideas were abundant, and each one left me feeling satisfied.

To me, the beauty of Poptropica and its islands was their creativity.

Remember when the friends page used to look like this?

I’m the kind of person that likes the simple things in life. Even as I aged out of Poptropica’s target demographic (originally 6–15 years old), I still revisited the website from time to time, and up until their removal, I would replay some of my favorite islands over and over again. All this to say, Poptropica was, and is, a game that I’ve held close to my heart. For that reason, it pains me to say that I’m deeply disappointed in where the game has gone in recent years.

A bit of background, in case you’re unfamiliar with Pop lore: The game was released in 2007, created by Jeff Kinney (more popularly known as the author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series). Through 2007-2015, the game grew to have over 75 million registered users. The original publishers were Pearson Education, but the site was sold to Sandbox Networks in 2015. As it often happens with company acquisitions, teams were restructured, with evidence of some longtime Pop Creators leaving against their wishes. This is the point where I begin my criticisms.

Secret Lair: This evil HQ is under construction.

Looking at this list of island releases by year, taken from the Poptropica Fandom Wiki, you can see that starting in 2015, there are fewer islands released per year, dwindling down to just one last year in 2022.

Also see the PHB’s Island Guides for info on all the islands.

In my personal opinion, the islands from 2015 onwards lack the creativity and depth of the islands before them. My playthroughs of the most recent ones, the three contest-winning Dream Islands (Fairy Tale, Goofball, and Jade Scarab) left me deeply disappointed. The concepts of these islands are so rich and have so much potential! Just check out the inside looks with the player designers of Jade Scarab and Goofball Island. But it felt to me as though the team didn’t want to play with the ideas they were offered from players.

It took me no more than 15 minutes to play through each one — granted, I am an older player. Still, there was not much to explore in the environments of these three islands, barely any NPCs to interact with, and the main quests were extremely simple. They essentially held your hand while going through objectives, and there wasn’t much of a story element that I had enjoyed with previous islands.

The new islands felt rather dry.

Because I don’t want to be overly negative, I will mention that some newer features of Poptropica are quite nice, like the Home Island and the player’s clubhouse, allowing players to make their own space in-game.

Of course, I can’t talk about the latest islands without talking about Flash. When Adobe Flash was discontinued in 2020, many of Poptropica’s islands were rendered unplayable. The Creators kept promising that old islands were being brought over to a new format, but the selection of islands has disappointed fans. Poptropica went from a bustling 51+ islands to 17, with some of them being locked behind a paywall, either of membership or the paid Steam bundle.

Deplane: It’s going down for real.

I will admit that transitioning the amount of content that Poptropica had does take time and hard work. I won’t fault the Creators for that. However, I think that rather than releasing new islands that don’t have the same appeal as old islands, and continually revamping the Home Island, the Creators need to bring back the old islands — as they were originally. They’ve remastered classic islands in the past, and the results haven’t been well received (see the watered-down Mythology, and Zomberry on Roblox).

Moving on from the islands, I’d also like to touch on the membership paywalls. Many original costumes, and even some of the re-released islands, are for members only. I understand the need for revenue since the website doesn’t seem to be getting as much traffic these days, but this has a huge impact for players. The costumes available to all are flat — they’re everyday clothes that you or I might wear. And the Costumizer tool, which allowed players to put together creative looks inspired by the characters they met across the islands, is also gone!

Some of my outfits from over the years.

Poptropica doesn’t offer the same freedom to players anymore — we can’t explore islands nor customize our characters to be as fantastical as we want. A huge part of what drew me to the website was the creativity, and the escapism of it all. It just isn’t there anymore.

My suggestions to the Pop Creators:

  • Spend more time rebuilding, and gradually releasing old islands! While adding to the Home Island and little side quests are great, they’re really not what Poptropica is all about.
  • Let players make their own choices, and have deeper gameplay! Kids are so much smarter than we give them credit for, especially when they’re engaged — simply look towards the old islands.
  • Give players more creative control over their characters, and make more whimsical and fun costumes and add-ons available to people who don’t have memberships.
Shoppe Talk: What’s olde is new.

Poptropica in its prime was releasing quality islands and drawing millions of players, old and young alike. What happened? Let’s bring back the old Poptropica that so many people cherished.

Hope you enjoyed this guest post by Comical Dragon. If you did, you might also enjoy our various Pop Petition posts.

The Poptropica Help Blog welcomes interesting Poptropica insights from anyone in the Poptropica community with thoughts to share. Interested in writing for the PHB? We’d love to hear from you!


4 thoughts on “A longtime player’s look at Poptropica 👀”

  1. I agree with this 100%. I came back to playing this game after playing it as a tiny elementary schooler and it’s just not the same. I don’t understand why the islands have to be watered down – I was able to figure out islands by myself when I was in elementary school, and so were my friends. It breaks my heart to see the decline. Creators, I’m begging you: please bring back the magic of Poptropica that we all know and love! This game is so unique and has a special place in my heart.

  2. What I think is really stupid is them having a island series and making the last island in that series only playable for members. Whats the the point in even playing the islands if you wont get the ending?? To thrive once again as what Poptropica used to be, they NEED to listen to feedback. I do miss the old Poptropica, but I don’t entirely want the old Poptropica back even though it is superior. Some features should be brought back as well as all the old islands. Their try at this new Poptropica ever since flash ended is just horrible. New isn’t always bad but this game sucks so much now that they mind as well bring the old game back as it will do a lot better and receive more positive feedback than it does now. Its even crazier how mobile and steam have more islands, or at least differnt islands than the web version. Why though? It doesnt make any sense. And you have to play 20 BUCKS TO PLAY ON STEAM! 20 bucks for some of the same stuff i can just play on mobile or web. And when they said they are bringing back old islands, which they barely did, i didnt think they meant you had to pay to play them which is dumb.

    Please just give us what we want, if the creators would just listen to us they can finally thrive as a game like they used to.

  3. I wasn’t playing poptropica when the old islands and customizer where here but as a new player it feels very unfair that we don’t get to experience the amazing poptropica veteran players knew and loved. it feels like we got cheated out of the amazing game poptropica used to be and I hope the creators bring back the old islands because the game feels just ‘meh’ once you complete every island that isn’t behind a paywall and old poptropica seems like it was a more amazing game that is now lost to time and only exists in the memory of players who were around early enough to see it and that is just sad.

  4. I totally agree with all of you. Does anyone here remember Its A Poptropica Blog? You know, like Brave Tomato or Beastking?

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