Identity theft. Squatter’s rule. Price gouging. They’re not terms you’d normally associate with the friendly board game Monopoly. But that will change this June, when Monopoly Cheaters Edition goes on sale for $20–the result of two years of work by Hasbro to make a version of Monopoly that plays faster, zanier, and perhaps more apropos of the current socio-political climate. Most of all, it’s a version of Monopoly that properly reflects the impulses inside our own dark hearts.
“We’ve had this data for years. 50% of all Monopoly players cheat,” says Randy Klimpert, Hasbro’s senior director of design and games development. This fact of life was always something of a running joke within the walls of Hasbro. It became the giggly fodder of proposed ad campaigns. Employees got a kick out of listening to the messages left on its holiday helpline, established in 2016, to help families settle disputes in their games and address accusations of creative cheating. “We were literally sitting around thinking, ‘what would really corrupt Monopoly?’ And someone said, ‘what if we cheated?’ ”
“Our senior marketer. . . you could see him mulling it,” Klimpert continues. “Monopoly. . . cheaters. . . Cheater Edition!” Hasbro instantly had the hook for a new game. But how do you make a game for cheaters that’s still sensical and fun?
The original Monopoly was designed in 1903 as a protest against uber-rich turn-of-the-century families like the Rockefellers and Vanderbilts–the original 1% that consolidated power by owning everything. But in the political climate of 2018, another class has risen to rule. They’re rule-benders, law-breakers, and, for lack of a better term, cheaters, who seem to intentionally rub their own misdeeds in the face of the American public. Intentionally or not, this is the modern day Monopoly game to roast them.
A team of four game developers were assigned to the project, and that team handled everything, from rethinking the rules to developing the game’s art to meticulous, ongoing game testing to get the rules just right. They reimagined all the little touches you’d expect, like the tokens you move around the board. The car’s trunk is loaded with loot from a heist. The top hat covers a pile of money. Even the T rex now has a robo-arm–cheating the limitations of biology with cybernetic enhancement. They also wanted to cut the average play time down from about two hours to something more “snackable” like 45 minutes. So they got rid of houses. Now, you just buy hotels.