Webkinz was launched in 2005 and was one of the first toys for children to bridge the physical and digital world. The stuffed animals were sold with codes with which you could bring your pet to life and care for it in the cartoon-like Webkinz World online. The half-physical, half-virtual pets were on the shelves at Target and Limited Too stores for years, and provide a safe, online space for children to play and learn.
But almost 15 years after the launch, many of those virtual pets may only have a few days left to live. Ganz, the company that owns the Webkinz brand, has announced that it will permanently delete all archived, inactive accounts on October 1, 2019. , your pet will be removed forever.
Ganz has not responded to multiple requests for comment, but it seems likely that the move is motivated by the cost of saving data for inactive accounts. In a blog post earlier this year Ganz explained his decision to start archiving dormant accounts, saying: "Millions of Webkinz accounts have been created since its launch in 2005, and for many reasons many of them have become inactive since then. delivered a huge amount of data that needs to be saved. "
If you have forgotten your login details, Ganz says that you may be able to restore your account by contacting customer service and providing some details such as your name, home status and information about some of your pets. But if it is more than seven years since you last logged in, your account has probably already disappeared due to restrictions according to children's privacy laws. Even after the massive deletions, Webkinz will still be around. If you restore your account before the specified deadline, you can play the game online as usual and Ganz has even developed mobile and desktop apps to support it far into the future. But it is not clear whether only nostalgia will suffice to keep the site afloat.
Other children's games have encountered similar problems. When Club Penguin first announced plans to close its servers in 2017, users created a nostalgia-induced movement of memes and pleas for Disney Interactive Studios to continue supporting the game they loved. Since the virtual penguin world has been officially taken offline, other fan sites have appeared. Former users were not ready for a digital world in which they spent countless hours disappearing forever, and perhaps deletions from Webkinz accounts have the same effect.
The stuffed toy came with eight-digit codes written in their tags. If you registered a Webkinz World account and entered the numbers supplied with the plush on the site, that same pet would appear online in its digital form. There you can decorate a house for your virtual pet, buy clothes for it, do work for KinzCash and communicate with friends via the in-game mail and multiplayer system. But over the years, as retailers such as Toys R Us have gone bankrupt, the sale of physical toys has been like that. Last May, Webkinz announced that it would no longer continue to release the plush.
"After 14 years and more than 500 unique pets, this generation of toys was on its way," Ganz wrote in a blog post. “The reality is that sometimes every toy brand has to take a break, evolve and reinvent. Many of the biggest toy brands in the world – My Little Pony, Transformers, Strawberry Shortcake – once had no toys in store shelves. "
people want to sit here and pretend to care about the world that is dying, but have not taken care of their webkinz within 10 years
– Hooverr (@Hooverr) September 22, 2019
Despite the declining popularity, nostalgia for Webkinz remains popular online. Social media is littered with jokes about dead and starving pets, or POV-style videos (point-of-view) from users who re-enter the game after years of leaving.
TikTok users have been particularly active in spreading the news of the impending shutdown. "URGENT NOT SCROLLING," the caption from a video read. The user, @non_stick_pan, made the public service announcement that broadcast the policy change after trying to log into his account after a period of inactivity. After entering their account info, they were greeted by a pop-up message with the text: & # 39; Welcome back! We really missed you! Your account has been archived due to inactivity. We are busy retrieving your account. Please come back tomorrow to access your account. "The policy change and the future pet pocalypse will then be explained.
That TikTok has received almost 30,000 likes from publication and more than 200,000 views. Duets of the video have also crept in, with other teenagers trying to log into their accounts and collecting thousands of their own views.