Newgrounds was founded in 1995 by Tom Fulp as an entertainment site and business. The site hosts user-generated content, including games, movies, audio and artwork. Fulp creates in-house content in the Glenside headquarters and office.
Newgrounds was a key player in Internet culture in the 2000s and 2010. It played a significant role in Internet animation, independent gaming and Internet culture in general. The site has been described as a "distinct period in gaming history", where many animators, developers and designers gained their footing long before the advent of social media. It also served as a refuge for those who wish to foster great internet animation.
Upload user-generated content and it can be categorized in one of four portals on the website: Movies, Music, Audio and Art. The process of "judgment" is where a Movie or Games submission can be reviewed and rated by users. At various points in judgment, the average score determines whether or not the content is "saved", which means it will be added to the database.
Adobe Flash Player has ended support for most browsers in late 2020. Newgrounds now uses the Ruffle emulator. This is an Adobe Flash emulator written by Rust. It's sponsored by Newgrounds, along with Cool Math Games, Armor Games, and other sites that provide Flash content.
Ruffle supported only a few Flash projects in ActionScript 3.0 as of 2022. Users had to download "Newgrounds Player", which is the site's Flash emulator that it previously used to run AS3 projects.
Art and audio are handled using "scouting", a method that allows users to be vetted and filter out "spam, stolen works and low-quality submissions." Users can upload audio and art to their pages, but those who have been "scouted", will be visible in the public area. It works in the same way as the judge system to stop stolen content and spam from reaching the public area. This is done by relying upon users and site moderators.
After an individual has been scouted they have the right to search others. However, users caught spying on other users (or 'abusing' the system) are not allowed to be scouted.
Banner depicting the annual event, "Pico Day", featuring two of Newgrounds' mascots as well as other characters.
Moderators can flag content and context for investigation. An experienced user's flag is given more weight by a weighted system. Newgrounds has a homepage that features submissions in each category. It also offers honors and awards to those who meet the requirements of the site.
Newgrounds members also host animations known as "collabs" via the forum. Some experts noted that although hundreds of "collabs” are made each year, less than 20% of them are finished due to stress. Other scholars stated that animators have a strong sense of authorship and ownership over what they create, particularly solo animators.
The site featured animations on Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and the Taliban. However, scholars argue that there has been a relatively balanced conversation about politics at the site, even though right-leaning views are a large part of its user base.
Tom Fulp, then 13, launched New Ground, a Neo Geo fanzine. It sent out issues to around 100 members of the club that was created on Prodigy's online platform. He launched a new website, New Ground Remix, using a hosting provider. This site was popularized during 1996's summer, when Fulp, a Drexel University student, created the BBS games Club a Seal, and Assassin.
Club a Seal II was created by him, as well as Assassin II. A separate site called New Ground Atomix was also established. Newgrounds was established in 1999 with Pico's School. This Flash browser game, which "exemplified a complexity in design and polished presentation that was practically unseen in amateur Flash gaming development," helped to establish Newgrounds.
Macromedia Flash Player was necessary for Newgrounds to be able to play certain games. However, it also connected members interested in Flash game production and had "considerable online influence". It became one of the "active Flash creator communities" in English and was a great place for game developers to start their careers.
Newgrounds once called Flash the "driving force behind" the site. However, the site's animators had "low tolerance" for low quality work. This was referring to humor and storytelling rather than animation quality. In the middle of the 2000s, some animators left the site to go on YouTube.
Newgrounds was home to over 1.5 million people and more than 130,000 animated films by November 2008. The site's users had increased to over 1.5 million in August 2010. It was also reported to have over 180,000 animated films and games. In 2013, it was reported that the site had "hundreds and thousands" of animated films and games.
Time placed the website No. It was ranked No. 39 in Time's "50 Best Websites List" for 2010.
Newgrounds encouraged contributors in 2018 to upload their games to the site in HTML5 formats, rather than Flash. It saw a surge of members from Tumblr in November and December 2018. This was because the site had begun to restrict adult content, after child pornography was discovered on the site. The Tumblr iOS application was removed from the App Shop.
The administration of Newgrounds launched the Newgrounds Player in summer 2019. It is described as "a solution for Flash games and movies", according to some.
After a surge in site traffic, the server of Newgrounds became overloaded and added a week to Friday Night Funkin'.
Fulp was awarded the Game Developers Choice Awards Pioneer Award in July 2021 for his contribution to Newgrounds' establishment and continued work with The Behemoth.