I hear they’re releasing a new Monopoly board game (Monopoly Empire) that can be completed in 30 minutes.
For people who have ever owned a computer or video game system, nothing could be less new. We already had computerized Monopoly games 25 years ago; once you didn’t have to count money, the game went a lot faster. Of course, some game companies thought they could market these games by adding animations that made the “efficient” computer version slower than the original board game. It enthralled players to see the cash register pop up over Mediterranean Avenue for the hundredth time as the iron hopped by. Especially when you were playing by way of a 28.8 bps modem and had to wait that much longer for your turn…
(And yes, those games needed a believable way to make an iron and thimble move on screen. The self-propelled wheelbarrow was also amusing, as was the dog that always stopped running when it was supposed to. So realistic…)
Of course, not everyone can afford electronic devices so I suppose it’s fair to offer a quicker version to people who need a less expensive format. However, the tradition of endless Monopoly variations can die as far as I’m concerned.
Speaking of variations, the emphasis on speed is hiding a more sinister change: the new “Monopoly Empire” game will lose all of the classic property names. In theory, Monopoly has released numerous editions that have attempted to capitalize on the most popular cultural icons (and other themes) of the day, whether that be Garfield, Lord of the Rings, or city-specific versions. This may have constituted product placement, but at least some creativity was involved.
Monopoly Empire takes that one step further by letting you purchase brand names like McDonald’s. This new advertising doesn’t even possess the potential for cheap entertainment value like the old variations did. I wonder how much it cost the companies to get their brands included…
If it was cheap, I’d love to get Bumblepuppies included on a future edition of Blogosphere Monopoly. But I suspect that the real winner is Hasbro. Even if no one buys the game, the company is surely recovering its production and marketing costs (and more) by selling ads.
The nightly news even did a segment on the game and mentioned the purchasing of brands as a highlight. In case you were wondering if the network news programs still had any credibility left…
On the upside, the dog, cat, and horse can all die by landing on McDonalds now. So maybe there’s some realism to this new version after all.
Or maybe not. Their replacements (such as the Coke can and Xbox controller) just aren’t the same. Good thing they’re directing all this marketing at little children.