Hasbro Is Not Leaving Monopoly to Chance

The evolution of a legendary game

Growing up, what did you do during rainy holidays or during visits to your grandparents?  In the days before computers and handheld devices, people could entertain themselves by reading books, watching basic television (and VHS tapes), or playing board games.  Before widespread personal technology, Hasbro, the manufacturer of Monopoly, Scrabble, and Trivial Pursuit, dominated the board games industry, but since the emergence of technology, board games have fallen out of favor.  Hasbro has faced significant challenges to its core business from the rise of technology, but luckily the company has adapted, meaning that future generations will be able to enjoy the unadulterated pleasure of Monopoly.

Despite selling over 250MM sets of Monopoly since its inception in 1935[1], Hasbro has not rested on its laurels.  “Board game makers have had to find their footing in a digital age”[2] and Hasbro has navigated the transformation masterfully.  As early as 2006, Hasbro was at the front of the digital revolution, teaming up with RealNetworks, “the leading developer, publisher and web-based distributor of casual games”[3], to bring its board game brands to the modern age.  Jane Ritson-Parsons, president of the Hasbro Properties Group who orchestrated the partnership said “digital gaming is a natural step for Hasbro’s classic properties as the category offers children and adults additional play experiences with our top brands”[4].

In August 2007, shortly after the first iPhone was released in June, Hasbro teamed up with Electronic Arts (“EA”), the makers of FIFA and Madden video games, to “transform the interactive family entertainment landscape”[5].  Not only did EA create the digital platforms for Monopoly, it helped Hasbro expand its digital boundaries.  The partnership paid dividends quickly, with Monopoly topping the Apple app store rankings in 2009[6].  In 2010, EA created Monopoly’s first 3D digital game[7].  In 2013, the two companies signed a four-year extension to their agreement after six successful years[8].

Hasbro has also embraced the increasing prevalence of social media.  In 2013, Monopoly fans “voted on Hasbro’s Facebook page to jettison the poor old flat iron in favor of a new cat token”[9], showing Hasbro’s determination to keep the storied brand relevant with changing tastes.  In 2015, Monopoly offered consumers to have their say in the new “Here and Now” version, resulting in Pierre, SD winning the competition[10].  Currently, Monopoly has 10.7MM Facebook fans, and the brand remains actively engaged with consumers[11].

Despite pushing into digital, Hasbro has remained active in non-digital channels.  Monopoly licensing has extended across multiple industries, from fast food (McDonald’s) to state lotteries.  Furthermore, Hasbro has kept innovating its traditional board game product offering, and interestingly, board games are experiencing a renaissance, with Monopoly being a beneficiary[12].

“Over a billion people have played Monopoly around the world”[13] but Hasbro could do more to ensure the success and longevity of this legendary brand.  Recently at South by Southwest, Hasbro talked about extending some of its products into virtual reality[14].  As gaming methods continue to evolve, Monopoly could take advantage of these innovations in virtual reality to add another dimension to its already large digital Monopoly platform.  How incredible would it be to wear a VR headset and walk the Monopoly board?

Monopoly continues to perform very well across digital platforms with its app one of the top 5 iPhone apps of all time[15].  In the face of changing consumption methods, Hasbro has proactively shifted its business model to preserve Monopoly’s legacy, so much so Monopoly has a 99% global brand awareness[16].  Even today, glancing at Apple App Store’s highest ranked paid apps (as of 11/18/16), Monopoly remains in the Top 10 (Exhibit 1).

Hasbro is playing in both the digital and analogue platforms, which is very encouraging, because now future generations can continue to experience all the joy and learning that Monopoly provides.

Exhibit 1: Apple App Store Paid App Rankings (11/18/16)

app-store

Word Count: 743

[1] https://www.loc.gov/rr/business/businesshistory/December/monopoly.html#4

[2] The mayfair shuffle; crowdsourcing “monopoly”. (2014, Apr 05). The Economist, 411, 59. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/docview/1513381333?accountid=11311

[3] http://investor.realnetworks.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=203116

[4] http://investor.realnetworks.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=203116

[5] http://investor.hasbro.com/releasedetail.cfm?releaseid=586451

[6] Hasbro: Monopoly no. 1 in top paid apps in app store. (2009). Wireless News, Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/docview/210351493?accountid=11311

[7] Desjardins, D. (2010, 06). Reinventing the classics. License! Global, 13, 112. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/docview/366411473?accountid=11311

[8] http://investor.hasbro.com/releasedetail.cfm?releaseid=775088

[9] The mayfair shuffle; crowdsourcing “monopoly”. (2014, Apr 05). The Economist, 411, 59. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/docview/1513381333?accountid=11311

[10] http://www.kdlt.com/news/local-news/City-Of-Pierre-Featured-On-New-Monopoly-Game/31886738

[11] https://www.facebook.com/monopoly/

[12] https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/nov/25/board-games-internet-playstation-xbox

[13] http://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-scandalous-history-of-monopoly/

[14] http://news.tfw2005.com/2016/03/13/hasbro-sxsw-2016-reality-virtual-311282

[15] Levy, A., & Bartkowiak, J. (2011). Secrets of success in brand licensing.

[16] Levy, A., & Bartkowiak, J. (2011). Secrets of success in brand licensing.

Previous:

Talking Trash

Next:

Putting the “New” in “News”: NYT Reinvents itself for the Digital Age

6 thoughts on “Hasbro Is Not Leaving Monopoly to Chance

  1. Hasbro has done a good job so far in adapting to a new digital world. However, I believe this apparent success is mainly related to people who had played Monopoly as a board game in the past and loved it, and who wanted to try new, digital versions of the game. I am not sure whether Hasbro is doing a good job capturing the new generations who no longer know the classic Monopoly, and I wonder whether Monopoly will survive in the next 20 years. I think that Hasbro should do more to involve the younger generations, leveraging on social networks to achieve this goal.

  2. Nice post Gregor, I always like hearing about Monopoly.

    I was thinking about Joana’s point about Monopoly not appealing to younger players. Maybe McDonalds tries to bring in new players through their McDonalds promotion, a connection which I’ve never considered before. The 99% brand awareness statistic was also quite impressive to me.

    In the last 10-20 years, there’s been a resurgence of board games in society with (mainly European) games like Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride. I wonder if Monopoly could diversify into two different products: 1) a more complex turn based strategy game for board-game fans and 2) a simplified digital version that involves more action/gambling/luck to appeal to new players.

  3. Gregor, I am inspired by the adaptive nature of such a titan of 20th century amusement. Hasbro’s partnership with EA sports appears to have yielded fruit, and it is interesting to hear about the receptiveness of Monopoly’s leadership to identities that are more inclusive and modern, such as the feline character you discussed. I agree with you that virtual reality is the next logical frontier, and I, like you, think it would be wonderful to slide on an Oculus headset and be transported via the Short Line to Park Place and watch my hotels be constructed in front of my very eyes. Given the costs associated with developing such technology and the hardware that individual consumers will required to purchase, how do you think that a virtual reality Monopoly experience should be priced? This article contains some interesting information on the financial requirements of participating in the VR universe, and as you can see, they far outstrip the $29.99 Monopoly board.

    https://www.cnet.com/news/the-real-cost-of-virtual-reality/

  4. Thanks Gregor, amazing to see, that the amazing Monopoly experience is still making its way to children – now via the AppStore.
    I was wondering if Hasbro has ever tried to diversify away into other type of popular games (e.g. MMORPGs) or if Hasbro is simply trying to take their ‘old products’ in a ‘new channel’. In my opinion, classical board games (even in an online format) will be crowded away by the Zynga-type of games (often games featured for free with significant in-app purchase options, but with significant player-to-player interaction and a high degree of community-building).
    Nevertheless, it will be very sad to see the fake Monopoly money vanish and replaced by virtual coins and by that probably reducing the number of frustrating, but fun family evenings.

  5. I remember that I used to play Monopoly often as a child. Actually, I did not know that Hasbro was teaming up with EA and they have Monopoly apps. As a strong brand, I believe they have a huge potential to succeed in the digital area. However, I have the same concern as Joana, that if they go too much on digital, Monopoly’s brand recognition and value can decrease (because I believe that the real value of the brand is generated by the analog board game). As an old fan of the board game, I hope that the analog version will not disappear.

  6. Great post Gregor. Glad to see that Hasbro is innovating and moving into the digital space with the classic game Monopoly. I was surprised to see the 99% global brand awareness stat. I wonder if Monopoly’s brand recognition is partially enabling the move into digital, and whether lesser known board games would have the same kind of success. As you mentioned, virtual reality does seem like a logical next step for Monopoly that may open new opportunities for the brand and for Hasbro.

Leave a comment