Skip to main content

The internet is saving 'Monopoly'

The internet is saving 'Monopoly'

/

Eighty-year-old games are finding ways to stay alive in a Facebook world

Share this story

Andy is upset. He's not a fan of a particular Monopoly rule, which requires players to go around the board once before they can buy any property. "Seems needlessly punitive," he says, posting on the board game's official Facebook page. But he's not simply yelling into the void — Monopoly publisher Hasbro is currently crowdsourcing new rule ideas for an upcoming special edition of the venerable board game, and Andy is just joining in.

This promotion is just the latest in the company's many schemes to keep its aging brands relevant, which includes everything from making board games based on Angry Birds to letting fans vote on which new word should be added to Scrabble. As for Andy, eventually a helpful user named Daniel explains that the new rule could actually help speed up the infamously lengthy board game. The Monopoly page thanks him for his contribution.

"Monopoly," says Daniel, "you are most welcome."

"Our dictionary has always been a hot topic of conversation."

Right now there are thousands of games available on a device that's always in your pocket, and they're all just a few taps away. These cheap and accessible titles mean that it's becoming increasingly challenging for physical experiences like board or card games to stay relevant. For Hasbro, the company has most recently turned to Facebook as a tool to combat this. Last year the company tested the waters by letting users decide which new token should be added to Monopoly, and which should be taken away. (In true internet fashion, you can now play the game as a cat.) But last month Hasbro really sped things up, kicking off two new promotions for two of its biggest games: Scrabble and Monopoly.

Both games have long standing traditions — Scrabble debuted in 1936, while Monopoly first launched in 1933 or earlier — and Hasbro is hoping to rile fans up by tapping into some of the more controversial aspects, like Scrabble's dictionary or the fact that everyone plays Monopoly with different rules. "If it was a topic that there was no emotion over, or no history with, it wouldn't have been as engaging," says Berkowitz. "Our dictionary has always been a hot topic of conversation."

3d4ed6f6-f733-45b8-9bb3-49d53c665bc3

In the same attempt to stave off irrelevancy, the company has also partnered with companies like Rovio, EA, and Zynga to create board game versions of the latest hot new thing in video games — if you ever wondered what swapping Bejeweled gems would be like in real life, there's a board game for that. It's gotten to the point where you can buy board games based on video games inspired by board games, including flash-in-the-pan hits like Words With Friends and Draw Something. Last July, Hasbro even purchased a 70 percent stake in mobile-game studio Backflip, creator of successful games like DragonVale and publisher of the upcoming SeaBeard.

You can buy board games based on video games inspired by board games

But while big companies like Hasbro are using an "everything and the kitchen sink" approach to keeping their board games relevant, modern games made by independent companies are having an easier time making physical games that work in our increasingly digital world. Crowdfunded card game Cards Against Humanity, for example, made a stir thanks in large part to its purposefully offensive content — it's a game where you play cards with phrases like "the gays" and "MechaHitler," making it great for posting pictures on Twitter or Instagram.

It's also completely free if you want, because you can download the cards and the rules from the game's site and print them yourself. Meanwhile, a Creative Commons license invites other designers to remix the game in different ways, even allowing for fan translations in everything from Estonian to pirate. It's a kind of fan participation and crowdsourcing that's particularly native to the web, even though the game itself is physical. (There was also an expansion pack based on Netflix's House of Cards series.)

Static

Even experienced creators like pen-and-paper RPG legend Jordan Weisman are using new online tools to make older game concepts feel more modern. His studio's upcoming title Golem Arcana is an elaborate blend of a mobile title and a traditional role playing game — there's a board and miniature figures, but you also have a Bluetooth-enabled stylus so you can tap on a real-world object and see information appear on your tablet. You get the nerdy fun of painting figures with some cool tech added in. Like Cards Against Humanity, the game also involved fans through crowdfunding, raising more than $500,000 on Kickstarter.

There's still room for a wide range of board games

While Hasbro is putting massive amounts of effort into reaching new audiences, fans are discovering these indie games and lesser known classics naturally online. Without big marketing pushes, board games like Carcassonne and Settlers of Catan have become huge success stories, while card games like Netrunner have slowly become a popular topic of conversation on Twitter, enticing new players nearly two decades after its initial release. The ongoing success of these smaller titles coupled with Hasbro's efforts (the company saw a 10 percent jump in games-related revenue in 2013) seems to show that there's still room for a wide range of board games — they just need the right digital components.

Meanwhile on Facebook, Monopoly fans seem particularly riled up about another potential new rule, which would let your mom get out of jail for free every time, no questions asked. The debate is surprisingly lively and everyone seems to be having fun. There are a few mothers who feel they could use the extra help, but it seems most people aren't in favor of this particular "house rule" being added to the game. "This is unfair, all players should have equal rights," says Julio.

"If and when I win," explains Holly, "I do not want anyone thinking it was a tainted win."

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed Two hours ago The tablet didn’t call that play by itself

E
Twitter
Emma RothTwo hours ago
Missing classic Mario?

One fan, who goes by the name Metroid Mike 64 on Twitter, just built a full-on 2D Mario game inside Super Mario Maker 2 complete with 40 levels and eight worlds.

Looking at the gameplay shared on Twitter is enough to make me want to break out my SNES, or at least buy Super Mario Maker 2 so I can play this epic retro revamp.


R
External Link
Russell BrandomTwo hours ago
The US might still force TikTok into a data security deal with Oracle.

The New York Times says the White House is still working on TikTok’s Trump-era data security deal, which has been in a weird limbo for nearly two years now. The terms are basically the same: Oracle plays babysitter but the app doesn’t get banned. Maybe it will happen now, though?


Asian America learns how to hit back

The desperate, confused, righteous campaign to stop Asian hate

Esther Wang12:00 PM UTC
R
Youtube
Richard LawlerTwo hours ago
Don’t miss this dive into Guillermo del Toro’s stop-motion Pinocchio flick.

Andrew Webster and Charles Pulliam-Moore covered Netflix’s Tudum reveals (yes, it’s going to keep using that brand name) over the weekend as the streamer showed off things that haven’t been canceled yet.

Beyond The Way of the Househusband season two news and timing information about two The Witcher projects, you should make time for this incredible behind-the-scenes video showing the process of making Pinocchio.


E
External Link
Emma Roth4:13 PM UTC
Netflix’s gaming bet gets even bigger.

Even though fewer than one percent of Netflix subscribers have tried its mobile games, Netflix just opened up another studio in Finland after acquiring the Helsinki-based Next Games earlier this year.

The former vice president of Zynga Games, Marko Lastikka, will serve as the studio director. His track record includes working on SimCity BuildIt for EA and FarmVille 3.


A
External Link
Andrew J. Hawkins3:37 PM UTC
Vietnam’s EV aspirant is giving big Potemkin village vibes

Idle equipment, absent workers, deserted villages, an empty swimming pool. VinFast is Vietnam’s answer to Tesla, with the goal of making 1 million EVs in the next 5-6 years to sell to customers US, Canada and Europe. With these lofty goals, the company invited a bunch of social media influencers, as well as some auto journalists, on a “a four-day, multicity extravaganza” that seemed more weird than convincing, according to Bloomberg.


J
James Vincent3:17 PM UTC
Today, 39 years ago, the world didn’t end.

And it’s thanks to one man: Stanislav Petrov, a USSR military officer who, on September 26th, 1983, took the decision not to launch a retaliatory nuclear attack against the US. Petrov correctly guessed that satellite readings showing inbound nukes were faulty, and so likely saved the world from nuclear war. As journalist Tom Chivers put it on Twitter, “Happy Stanislav Petrov Day to those who celebrate!” Read more about Petrov’s life here.


Soviet Colonel who prevented 1983 nuclear response
Photo by Scott Peterson/Getty Images
J
The Verge
James Vincent3:03 PM UTC
Deepfakes were made for Disney.

You might have seen the news this weekend that the voice of James Earl Jones is being cloned using AI so his performance as Darth Vader in Star Wars can live on forever.

Reading the story, it struck me how perfect deepfakes are for Disney — a company that profits from original characters, fans' nostalgia, and an uncanny ability to twist copyright law to its liking. And now, with deepfakes, Disney’s most iconic performances will live on forever, ensuring the magic never dies.


E
External Link
Elizabeth Lopatto2:41 PM UTC
Hurricane Fiona ratcheted up tensions about crypto bros in Puerto Rico.

“An official emergency has been declared, which means in the tax program, your physical presence time is suspended,” a crypto investor posted on TikTok. “So I am headed out of the island.” Perhaps predictably, locals are furious.


R
The Verge
Richard Lawler2:09 PM UTC
Teen hacking suspect linked to GTA 6 leak and Uber security breach charged in London.

City of London police tweeted Saturday that the teenager arrested on suspicion of hacking has been charged with “two counts of breach of bail conditions and two counts of computer misuse.”

They haven’t confirmed any connection with the GTA 6 leak or Uber hack, but the details line up with those incidents, as well as a suspect arrested this spring for the Lapsus$ breaches.


R
The Verge
Richard Lawler1:00 PM UTC
Green light.

Good morning to everyone, except for the intern or whoever prevented us from seeing how Microsoft’s Surface held up to yet another violent NFL incident.

Today’s big event is the crash of a NASA spaceship this evening — on purpose. Mary Beth Griggs can explain.


D
David Pierce12:54 PM UTC
Thousands and thousands of reasons people love Android.

“Android fans, what are the primary reasons why you will never ever switch to an iPhone?” That question led to almost 30,000 comments so far, and was for a while the most popular thing on Reddit. It’s a totally fascinating peek into the platform wars, and I’ve spent way too much time reading through it. I also laughed hard at “I can turn my text bubbles to any color I like.”