How NFTs Are Bringing Back Childhood Memories for Millennials

NFTs have given some of the most well-known platforms of the early 2000s a new lease on life.
Image source: Deposit Photos

Quick take:

  • Music-related platforms such as Limewire, Napster, Winamp have made a comeback this year through NFTs.
  • Popular virtual gaming platforms Neopets, and Habbo Hotel have also released NFTs.
  • These platforms were some of the most well-known for children who grew up during the early years of Web2.

Millennials, the generation born between 1981 – 1996 would remember growing up during the early years of the internet and dotcom bubble, waiting for their parents to hang up the phone getting online via a dial-up modem, which would emit an irritating yet distinctively unforgettable buzzing sound as it connects to the web.

These were special times for millennials who devoured the media and games on the world wide web, spending hours downloading music through peer-to-peer file sharing platforms such as LimeWire and Napster, then playing the mp3s on Winamp. Many kids of the early 2000s would spend much of their free time on popular virtual gaming platforms like Neopets and Habbo Hotel, where they could interact with people from around the world.

As technologies advance over the decades, more innovative music streaming platforms and virtual games have entered the market. With the advent of Web3, Y2K platforms like LimeWire, Napster, Winamp, Neopets and Habbo Hotel were left behind, but NFTs have given them a new lease on life. Evidently, these platforms aren’t what they used to be, but their comeback still evokes childhood nostalgia for those who grew up using them. 

LimeWire relaunches as music-focused NFT platform

Initially released in 2000 as a free peer-to-peer file-sharing client for Windows, MacOS, Linux and Solaris, particularly for pirated music, LimeWire was estimated to be downloaded on one-third of all computers globally by 2007. In 2010, U.S. federal court judge Kimba Wood ordered LimeWire LLC to prevent “the searching, downloading, uploading, file trading and/or file distribution functionality, and/or all functionality” of its software and to compensate $105 million in damages to affected record labels.

This year, the brand name was resurrected, thanks to NFTs. LimeWire made its comeback in May as a music-focused NFT platform after raising $10.4 million in April. It has also inked a deal with Universal Music Group for content licensing. Travis Barker, the drummer of American rock band Blink-182, dropped his first-ever NFT collection on the platform in July while American R&B singer Brandy partnered with Probably Nothing to launch her to spoken word and Photosynthesis Flower NFT on Limewire.

Napster pivots to Web3

Initially launched as a peer-to-peer file-sharing software in 1999, Napster ceased operations in 2001 after losing lawsuits over copyright infringements. It re-emerged as an online music store after being acquired by American software company, Roxio. Best Buy later purchased the store and merged it with its music streaming, Rhapsody, which is now rebranded as Napster. While Napster has fallen out of favour with Millennials, it surprisingly had more than 5 million users and $8 million monthly revenue in 2021 according to Music Ally. 

The platform also secured a total funding of $40 million and hired former Warner Music exec Emmy Lovell as its chief strategy officer last year. In May this year, New York-based crypto-focused investment firm, Hivemind, and Algorand acquired the music streaming service. It is reportedly planning to launch an ecosystem token and NFTs in its pivot to Web3.

Winamp supports music NFTs

The first version of Winamp was released in 1997. More than two decades later, the latest Windows desktop version of the media player will support music and video NFTs on Polygon and Ethereum, the company announced on Tuesday. Users can simply connect their Metamask wallet via Brave, Chrome or Firefox to Winamp to play their music NFTs, making it the first standalone media player that supports the latest music format.

Winamp re-entered the consciousness of Web2 and Web3 users when put its original 1997 on auction as an NFT over the summer, bringing back nostalgic memories for those who used Winamp extensively to play audio files in the 2000s. Proceeds of the auction will go towards Winamp Foundation, which will redistribute the funds to charity projects supporting music and musicians.

Habbo to Launch NFT-based hotel

Founded in 2000 by Finnish social entertainment and video company Sulake, Habbo and Hotel Hideaway games were popular online hangouts for teens in the early 2000s. Before metaverse social gaming platforms like Roblox, Fortnite, Decentraland, and The Sandbox, there was Habbo, a virtual hotel and multiplayer experience where players – represented by personalised avatars – can design rooms, roleplay in organizations, and even buy and sell decorations known as “furni” and other items.

The last hotel, Habbo Turkey, was launched in 2012 for Turkish speakers. But Habbo is coming back with an upcoming Web3 game dubbed Habbo X, with Alpha 1 launching this month for Habbo Avatar and room owners. Focusing on community building, interoperability, and play-and-earn mechanics, Habbo X allows players to create their own play-to-earn games. At its Alpha 3 scheduled for Q3 2023, Habbo X will serve as a space where the Habbo and NFT communities can socialise. 

Neopets returns in metaverse form

Launched in 1999, Neopets was a virtual pet website where users could own, feed and care for their virtual pets and buy virtual items for them using virtual currencies called Neopoints and Neocash. The Neopets were also customisable with clothing items, paintbrushes and accessories. There were even message boards where users can chat and interact with others in the community. By Christmas 1999, Neopets was logging 600,000 page views daily.

With features like virtual currencies, digital clothing and community interactions that have become the hallmarks of Web3 projects, it was no surprise that Neopet made its comeback in metaverse form. Last September, the Neopets Metaverse Collection NFT was revealed in collaboration with JumpStart, Cherrypicks, and Moonvault. Neopets Meta claims to be a “community-driven, web3 free-to-play game built for generations of Neopets players.” Still in Alpha stage, Neopets Meta has been denounced by the Neopets community for tainting their childhood nostalgia. There was also some confusion around the project as the Neopets social media team were initially unaware of it.

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