fighting the lack of good ideas

here and now – monopoly updated

From CNN: “Monopoly rolls dice, changes look. The legendary game, out since 1935, will have a new, contemporary version this fall.” [original story | related site]

Apparently, Hasbro has gotten tired of all the special editions, the collector’s sets, agreements with Franklin Mint, and just making a bundle of money on a popular, fun, and addicting game. The costs of property, taxes, fines, and rents in the game happen to be very delicately balanced. Knock-off ‘opoly’ games (and there are at least dozens), all use different prices around the board, different placements of hazards, and different ‘boardly’ incomes so they don’t infringe too heavily upon the original. But all those knock-off games have capital balance issues that don’t tend to manifest themselves in the original.

For over 70 years, Monopoly has been a stand-by in game collections, family rooms, dorms, and even some business lounges. It’s fun because it works. With a fortuitous roll of the dice, the first person in the game can be half-way (or more) around the board with 3 properties before the next guy has a chance to roll. Or they could have landed on Chance and been sent straight to jail to start the game.

Property values, salaries, fines, and bank errors are all tightly arranged to make sure the game starts off balanced. And you’re better off owning the dark purple, orange, and red streets (with the railroads and a couple other random properties) than almost any other combination of streets (beyond the obvious end-game scenario of ‘Monopoly’ :)).

Statistical analysis done by computer models has shown that the Chance deck’s ‘Go back 3 spaces’ (anecdotal evidence joins this chorus) is most likely to be incurred at the chance square right after Free Parking. (Don’t know why, but with thousands of runs, it keeps popping out there.) In combination with 3 (or more) houses on New York Avenue, the owner of the orange street can bankrupt his opponents very fast.

Ok, so maybe Atlantic City’s streets don’t resonate with people the way they once did – but they do because of the game. Hasbro has already churned-out National Parks, Spongebob Squarepants, Coke, NASCAR, Looney Tunes, Simpsons, Millenium, Football, and myriad other special editions. I don’t see why they need to update the game to ‘Here and Now’. The formula that has worked for 70 years doesn’t need fixing.

Will I buy a copy of the new edition? Yeah. I like Monopoly, and know several collectors. Will it take over for the original in my gameplay? I seriously doubt it. I don’t like people messing with things that work – and especially not with things that work really well.