10 Virtual Pet Games

Looking for something more to do online? Here are ten virtual pet games that can be played through your browser. The great thing is that most of these are free, and the ones that do charge are far less than the average online game, such as World of Warcraft or Everquest. Webkinz is the only one that does not have any sort of trial or demo period.
Webkinz

Webkinz is probably the most popular virtual pet game at the moment. You must purchase a Webkinz plush in order to play. As I said, there is no free trial/demo option. But if you like stuffed animals, it’s still a good deal I suppose. Once you get your pet, you are taken to your pet’s room and given a few items and some KinzCash to start out. Customization is the name of the game here; there are many outfits for your pet and many items you can use to decorate your house. You can have as many rooms and as many pets as you like.

Some items in the game require additional purchases to access. Some items are only given out when you adopt a certain pet. Others appear appear randomly in your new pet’s free gift. And the Charm Forest only becomes available after you purchase a Webkinz charm. However, even without these there is no shortage of things to do with only one or two pets. You can have your pet attend school and learn skills to compete against other pets in the stadium. There is an arcade with many flash-based games to earn kinzcash, or you can answer questions at Quizzy’s. Thus far I’ve found Quizzy’s is the fastest and most reliable way to make money, aside from adopting more pets of course.

There is no communication in Webkinz. Players can only message each other if they have their full user name, which cannot be randomly obtained through the Webkinz game. For example, if your user name is “Sierrie” is will show up as only “Sie” when you win a contest. In the clubhouse, which works like a chat room, players must select pre-existing responses and cannot type in their own. So unless you go to an off site forum not hosted by Ganz, you will not meet anyone through Webkinz.

Neopets

Neopets was the first online pet simulator. The downside of this game is that you can only have four pets, so choose carefully. Once you get started, you play mini-games to earn NeoPoints. But you can only send your score for NP three times a day, so it’s advisable to practice first.

You can spend your money on items, upgrading your shop, or special items that help your pets level up so they can compete with other pets. There are also special paintbrushes that you can use to further customize your pet. Some paint brushes simply change the pet’s color, but others can turn them into almost a completely different animal.

Neopets does have a lot of games people would be familiar with. Variants of Solitaire, Bejeweled, and other such games are available. So if you get bored with the pets you can always play the flash games. And your pets can’t die, so if you come back months or even years later, you can pick up where you left off.

Subeta

Subeta is somewhat similar to Neopets, though its target audience is older and as such, contains some more mature content. Some examples of this are the graveyard theme, which makes the pets look like decayed, decrepit zombies, and the bloodred theme, which causes the pet to appear to be covered in blood. So if you’re looking for something for your young’un to do online, this might be one to avoid.

Players can pay money to upgrade their account. This gives the player more space for pets, more items for your human avatar, and more daily activities. Players can also have art galleries and journals, as well as join cults (which work like guilds or clubs).

Pony Island

Pony Island is a fantasy horse breeding sim styled after the My Little Ponies toy line. Currently there are fifteen breeds and several sgenes (“special” genes). Some breeds are quite familiar to us, such as unicorns and pegasus. Some, like phoenix ponies, are unique to Pony Island. The sgenes vary as well, with fancy things such as rainbow manes and tails, to more traditional horse features like paint and socks.

However, this game is not free. Players start out with a twenty day free trial (although it is severely limited due to several instances of cheating the system) to see what the game is all about. After that, it costs either $14 for six months or $32 for a year.

What I enjoyed most about PI was the fact that it used hex codes to determine a pony’s color. These are similar to RGB codes in web design, just with a different notation. The mane/tail color, the eye color, the body color, and the colors of any extra features a pony might have (ie, shells on shell ponies) are determined by this, making it possible to have a very unique pony. Almost no two ponies are exactly alike. There is no limit to how many ponies a player can own. Each account can hold a little over one hundred ponies, but players are also allowed to purchase additional accounts. And if you find you are having trouble making a good start in the game, players are allowed to purchase Pony Gold in exchange for US dollars. But be careful when doing this, as you will be purchasing from other players and the admins cannot help you if you are scammed.

It is also worth mentioning that ponies can die, so you must log on to feed them fairly regularly. A fully fed pony can only last thirty days without being fed again, so if you leave for a few months you won’t find much to come back to, unless you can get someone to feed them while you are away.

Creature Breeder

This one is a little different from most virtual pet games. Like Webkinz, it is flash based, but in this one your pets move around the farm on their own. You can drop food and they will flock to it, or buy toys and watch them play. You can also purchase landscaping items to decorate your farm. There are five types of pet in total: FuzCubs (vaguely cat-like), Beaklings (birds), BrumbleBears (bears), ScuttleBugs (hermit crabs), and TurtleTots (turtles).

What I liked about this game is that it is pretty easy to jump right in and make a good start, unlike a lot of breeding sim games where your play will be severely limited for the first week or so. If you get all ten of your farms and put money trees on each, you can make enough money to buy creatures within a day or two. Also, many older players give out free creatures sometimes, so you don’t have to wait for your first egg to hatch and grow up in order to start breeding.

Each species has its own unique colors and mutations, and it’s up to you to find out the genealogy and breed your ideal pet. But as an added challenge, your pets will grow old after twenty days and will no longer be able to breed. So you have to get your breeding projects done fairly quickly. If you leave the game and come back a month later you will pretty much have to start over.

Horse Isle

In this gameyou have an avatar who can travel around the islands. It is free, but as a non-subscriber you get a limited amount of play time. You start with 180 minutes, and get one additional minute for every eight minutes, which is about another 180 per day.

To get your first horse you can either lease, buy or try to capture one from the wild. Leasing horses is limiting; you cannot choose the breed and you cannot compete with them. Once you own your own horse, you must be able to tack, feed, and care for it.

Earning money in Horse Isle is done mostly by questing. You can do quests for NPCs in the towns, and some mini-games will also award cash and quest points. You can also sell the items you pick up when wandering around the islands.

Howrse

Another horse sim, this one gives you one horse to start with. You start out with your foal and care for it and age it, with each age level giving you new features. Some features (like jobs) have to be unlocked by passing riding tests, which are basically multiple choice tests about horsemanship. Initially, your money will be earned by getting a job as a groom. You’ll be employed by another player’s equestrian center, where your job will be done automatically for as many days as your contract covers. After that, you’ll have to find a new job. You will also have to board your horse in another players equestrian center. You can choose how long to board it, and then either extend your stay or board with a different player.

You will be able to age your horse to about a year old initially. After that, you may use passes to get more age points, or simply wait until the next day (real world time) for your horse to age. However, your horse will not age age unless you have had it to activities that day, so you must log on regularly to progress. You will also not get paid for your job on days you do not log on and care for your horses. There are many features in Howrse that only become available after having been registered for a certain amount of days. Riding level nine (the highest level) is only available after 120 days. Riding levels give you access to new jobs and information.

This game is free, but you can purchase passes in order to do more and unlock some new features. One pass is $2.49, ten are $14.99, and twenty are $29.99. Items bought with passes allow you to age your horse faster, make them immortal, train them faster, change gender, and many other interesting things.

Horseland

Another horse breeding sim. It is somewhat similar to Howrse, but you do not actually get a picture of your horse. You can upload select an image to serve as the horse’s picture, but it’s not really the same. For example, you can select a picture of a palomino when your horse is a zebra. You can even upload your own picture that’s not a horse at all. This game also has dogs, but it’s a similar deal there too.

There is also a Junior Game of Horseland, which seems to be based on the cartoon of the same name. However, Firefox users beware, because I could only get it to open in Internet Explorer. There isn’t a lot of customization. There are only a few horses to choose from, and to name them you have to combine choices from two lists of pre-selected words.

The Junior version of the game, to me, plays like most flash games based on cartoons. That is to say, fun for a bit but it gets old fast. To ride you take your horse out and jump over hurdles, and shows are the same thing. You can get first place without any training, so there’s not much challenge there. You can earn money, but there’s really no need as most of the items serve little to no purpose.

Wajas

Wajas are wolf-like creatures that players can buy, trade, and breed. There are a few minigames that players can earn money with, but the focus is the animals, not the mini-games. Unlike most virtual pet games, you don’t start off with a pet. You must earn your first Waja. This might seem daunting at first, but if you check out the forums there are usually plenty of older players willing to help a newbie make a good start.

Wajas is free to play, but in order to obtain a first generation Waja, players must use US dollars to buy Crazy Waja Points. This is optional, but many people consider the level of customization in a first-generation Waja to be well worth the money. There is plenty to do with your Wajas, with many items to customize them, backgrounds to make their image unique, and even dyes that add new patterns to your Waja’s fur. The Waja’s breeding system uses hex codes like PI, but unlike PI, the patterns on the Waja’s fur can fade through the generations, rather than just disappearing. Because of this, players must be careful when selecting breeding pairs. Otherwise in a few generations, players will find themselves with dull colored Wajas with very muted fur patterns.

Bella Sara

Bella Sara is a trading card based game. However, you can register and try it out before you go buy the cards. You’ll get one horse to start with, and you’ll have access to the games and be able to explore the world. The best way to earn money is by buying the cards, unfortunately. Only two of the games will give you horseshoes (the game currency), and even they typically pay less than three horseshoes per play. According to the website, they are working on making the rest of the games reward horseshoes. Still, if you sign up but get bored too quickly, you might want to wait until they do that before you decide to invest real money into the game.

Reading over the website, it sounds like they are planning on adding quite a bit to the world. But until then you might want to hold off on this one, unless you happen to be an avid card collector anyway.