NeonMob Shutting Down: Bittersweet Farewell to a Principled Art Site

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Tyler Graham
| February 20, 2024
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NeonMob, a site where art enthusiasts could collect “trading card sets” from a wide range of artists, is officially closing on February 29th, according to an official sitewide news post.

“Sad news: we’re sorry to announce that NeonMob will close at noon PST on February 29th,” the post read. “The site will return as a read-only archive early April, so a snapshot of everyone’s series and collections will live on.”

Special quality-of-life updates are going live for NeonMobsters to enjoy during the final weeks of live operations. Users can now open up to five Freebie or Pro-Freebie packs per day on Unlimited Series, and restrictions on Carat packs have been entirely removed. It’s now impossible for NeonMobsters to lose their login streak bonuses as well.

This isn’t the first time NeonMob has been on the verge of shutdown — a similar announcement was made by NeonMob’s community manager in January 2023.

Daily streaks won’t reset in the days leading up to site shutdown.

At the time, NeonMob’s shutdown was delayed by the strength of the site’s community. “As we’ve called out in our fundraising materials, NeonMob users are more likely to pay, and pay more, than your average free-to-play player; in addition to that, the new artists, series types, and the community’s enthusiastic response to our mechanics changes to the game actually doubled the amount of money coming in from credit purchases,” the news post read.

A Wefunder campaign was also launched in early 2023 to help pay for the site’s operating costs. The goal of $50,000 was never reached, and as such, all donations will be returned to contributors.

As NeonMob winds down, it’s important to acknowledge the special space they carved out for themselves on the internet. Maybe the user base wasn’t large enough to support the site’s ambitions in the end. But NeonMob allowed a like-minded group of people to come together to celebrate artists and their art.

At every turn, the NeonMob team put their community first. They never sacrificed their morals or principles on the altar of profit. There was a hardline stance against the incorporation of NFTs and cryptocurrency, and AI-generated imagery wasn’t allowed to be monetized if it made it onto the site.

It truly felt like every decision made by the team was debated and deliberated to protect artists and to maintain the vision that drove NeonMob’s creation. 

In fact, the NeonMob team said they would never allow another party to revive the site unless they showed a “dedication to supporting authentic artists, had a strong team with technical experience developing and maintaining large-scale online platforms, and access to funding to improve and grow NeonMob to the point it can sustain itself.”

Artist: Rasuel. The Monkai: Plamal Realm set was what I desperately wanted to 100% complete.

It’s rare to find a site so pure and untarnished by the profit motive. In the end, NeonMob’s clarity of mission and small user base is what killed the site. As NeonMob goes, the internet loses a shining gem of community. We lose something brilliant and fresh, a place where true connections are made.

NeonMob was a bastion of an older internet, and it deserves to be remembered long after the last card pack gets ripped open later this month. At least we’ll have access to an archive hosting the complete set of works published on the site.

I think the NeonMob team deserves to have the final word on their own sendoff: “Despite this not being the outcome we hoped for, we’ve really enjoyed our time with NeonMob; the community is immensely positive and passionate, and the art and artists have been a joy to work with. We’re incredibly happy and proud to have helped NeonMob continue for another year past the original planned shutdown, and very sorry to have things come to this conclusion.”

If you were a NeonMobster (as I was), please leave some of your fondest memories of the site in the comments down below. I wish this community — the artists, the collectors, and the team behind the site — nothing but the best, and I hope we all come together to enjoy something again soon.

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