Enter the comic strip world of Big Nate – a wisecracking kid who holds the all-time record for detentions at his school. You’re on a mission to find a long-lost time capsule which, if found, can save the school from demolition. You’ll need help from Nate and his friends to complete your quest!
Also on their Instagram story, Poptropica shared tons of fan art! One particularly noteworthy post is happyclonetrooper’s sheet music for Fiona’s violin song from Ghost Story Island. Although she acknowledges it’s been done before, this is one melodious masterpiece that’ll never get old! 🎻 (Click to enlarge the pics below.)
At one point, Big Nate, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and Poptropica’s Mystery of the Map held down three of the top five slots on the New York Times bestseller list. I was the happiest publisher in the world.
Hold on for tomorrow’s post from the former Poptropica CEO, which will tackle the big topic on our minds: “What about today’s Poptropica?”
So we’re having a blast with Poptropica. Telling unexpected stories via a gaming literacy, exceeding budget targets, employing good people, having fun. We started our storytelling with Early Poptropica and Shark Tooth Island in 2007.
In that first post, Jess recounts how Time magazine listed Poptropica as one of the “50 Websites that Make the Web Great” (this was in 2011).
Jess goes on to share about Poptropica’s carefully planned and well executed business strategy, “conceived to serve both kids and advertisers” before a line of code was ever written for the game.
As I’ve said before—and I’m often the lone voice on this—having the right advertisers fund the delivery of great content to kids is a good thing. I had zilch interest in a publishing strategy that was purposely confined to kids with parents wealthy enough to afford a subscription.
Next, Jess quotes generously from a 2020 article written by Arian Tomar titled “Why Poptropica Mattered,” posted on a site called Voices of Gen-Z. Here’s a snippet from that reflective piece:
Poptropica changed my life. If I’m being honest, I think it influenced many young people more than we acknowledge… To me, Poptropica represents an internet full of stories, exploration, connection, and advertising, a microcosm of the essential parts of the internet.
Anyway, on with the main point of Jess’s post: for a time, Poptropica was the largest kids’ site on the internet!
The news was nervously given to him one morning in late 2008 by Poptropica’s marketing director, Kim Regan. They didn’t blast the news right away as they wanted to make sure it was true. But sure enough, Poptropica’s numbers had grown bigger than Disney’s Club Penguin and Nickelodeon’s Nicktropolis, two other hugely popular virtual worlds at the time. (And Poptropica outlived them, too!)
It was all so incredibly satisfying. This quiet, caring, hard-working, respectful, unknown group of talented and good people went up against Nickelodeon and Disney and kicked their butts.
And they did it by telling stories—great writing, great art, great design—when all the experts confidently screamed that kids wanted nothing to do with stories on their computer screens. By 2012, story-based Poptropica had 500+ million registered users from around the world.
A good story, once again, won the day.
Now let’s turn to Big Nate, which began as a comic strip and now has a pretty popular narrative-and-art hybrid book series. But before the book series, there was the Poptropica island.
Poptropica Creator Jeff Kinney knew Lincoln Peirce, the creator of Big Nate, and figured it would be a good match, as he and Jess were looking for brilliant content outside of Poptropica to add to the game.
One of Jeff’s and my notions was to introduce content on Poptropica that did not first originate on Poptropica. Why limit all those kids to discovering only what our writers came up with? …Wow, doing that would make Poptropica all the more powerful, inclusive, and all-serving.
Jess loved the idea (and the brilliance of comic strip creators), and they met with Lincoln and decided to give it a try.
Two months later, late morning on a Friday, we launched “Big Nate Island.” By midnight, two million different kids had played it. Seriously!
Two million is impressive, but what else stands out is the fact that it took just two months to dream of and create an island! A far cry from the snail’s pace of island releases these days…
Anyway, the success of the island confirms Jess’s hunch that there’s a unique kind of book for all those comics. But that’s another story!
What’s up, Poptropicans? It’s Lucky Joker here, and I’ve got some big news. Today, Poptropica just announced that…
There it is loud and clear, folks—Big Nate Island is available to all players this week only! Up until this Friday (July 27), members won’t be the only ones able to play this classic island. 😉 Sadly, it’s not really a full week, but rather a full standard school/work week which is only five days. But hey—it’s better than nothing at all.
UPDATE: We’ve been getting reports that the membership lock continues to activate up until the end of the demo point. To combat this, PHB reader Massive Monster suggests closing the “get membership to continue” window and refreshing the page to continue without membership.
Hey Poptropicans, Slanted Fish here, with two bits of news. 🐠
The first is this: another sneak peek! Yup, soon after the Creators posted a sketch of a pet barn on their blog, we find another view of the same scene posted on their Instagram. This one includes a movie theater (hopefully it’ll be better than the current one), store (which we’re familiar with), and the aforementioned pet barn. Check it out:
The caption on Instagram offers some insight into the island creation process:
Ever wonder how games like Poptropica are made? It all starts with our artists working on lots of concepts like this one! Once a design is chosen, it’s redrawn in Photoshop! Stay tuned for more behind the scenes pics! 🎨
And the comments reveal a little more. A commenter (hiskeyblade) asked, “Do you guys start just random doodles after you figure out a plot of a world?”
To which the Creators replied: “We do! We also create mood boards with photos of real places and other inspiration!”
Pretty cool to hear about — it’d be great to learn more about their creative process, and the prospect of seeing more behind-the-scenes pics is one we can all look forward to!
Now for the second shocker: there’s a good chance that Big Nate Island, which is currently locked for members only, will be unlocked for all to play! See for yourself:
The hundred-plus comments received on the Creators’ proposal on Instagram are overwhelmingly in favor (albeit with some repeat “votes”).
As it should be! Poptropicans who hear about the sponsored islands being made members only are still as salty as Cap’n Salty’s about it as the day the news broke three years ago. With Poptropica Original likely to fade by the end of 2020, perhaps all features should be made free — better that more of us get to enjoy it than not at all, right?
That’s all for this post, but be sure to scroll down the blog for more news. We’ve had a lot going on in the Poptropica sphere lately!
There may be over 40 islands, but now 7 of those islands are exclusive for members. The seven islands are all sponsored islands (islands that are based on a franchise/not completely original), with the exception of the more recent Galactic Hot Dogs Island, which isn’t on the list:
Non-members can still play a demo of each island, but nothing beyond that. With Timmy Failure Island coming up, we have to wonder if that will eventually be locked to members only as well, since it’s also a sponsored island.
Yes, what we have feared is true. I just hope Poptropica won’t become completely membership oriented. 😦 Let us know in the comments what you think!