Monopoly Turns 80: A Look at the Board Game's Transformation - TheStreet

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Hasbro's (HAS) - Get Report Monopoly, the classic real-estate board game based on the streets of Atlantic City, N.J., officially turns 80 on March 19, 2015. In celebration of the game's legacy and fandom, Monopoly has released an 80th Anniversary Edition game featuring a vintage-style board and one iconic token from each of its eight decades.

Image placeholder title

While its history may be controversial (more on that later), Monopoly has continued to evolve over the years. Parker Brothers originally rejected the game due to its length, theme and complexity. After Monopoly found local support in Philadelphia, the company purchased the rights to the game and sold it in the U.S. and the U.K. Since then, Monopoly has been published in 47 languages, sold in 114 countries, and played by over one billion people around the world.

Interested to see how the game has evolved from its first edition? Click through to the following pages.

Image placeholder title

According to Hasbro (HAS) - Get Report , Charles Darrow of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania first developed the game of Monopoly in 1933. However, in 1904, a woman named Lizzie Magie patented a board game called the Landlord’s Game. “The object of the game,” the patent states, “is to obtain as much Wealth or money as possible” by buying properties along the board and collecting rent.

Over the years, players created their own adaptations of the Landlord’s Game. In 1933, Darrow used household materials to create a version of this game called Monopoly, which he sold to local department stores.

Parker Brothers, and now Hasbro, have denied a connection between Monopoly and the Landlord’s Game both publicly and in court. Journalist Mary Pilon explores this history further in her upcoming book The Monopolists.

Image placeholder title

In the first year that Monopoly was owned by Parker Brothers, the company produced 35,000 copies which were sold for $2.50 each.

The first licensed Monopoly game was made to be sold in England and used London street names, rather than those in Atlantic City, for its board. Since then, new editions for countries outside of the United States have followed this practice.

Image placeholder title

Records of the wildly popular and “favorite fast dealing property trading game” reveal the many creative locations where Monopoly has been played, including underground, on a ceiling, and on a U.S. Nuclear Submarine.

More surprisingly, Monopoly was used during World War II to smuggle money, escape maps, compasses, and files to Prisoners of War in Germany.

Image placeholder title

Since 1935, Monopoly has updated its rules and gameplay, albeit far less dramatically than it did in the thirty years prior.

Some Chance and Community Chest cards, such as the outdated “Grand Opera Opening,” have been replaced by more modern ones. To address the problem of games being too time consuming (the longest game on record took 70 consecutive days to finish), the "speed die" was added to the standard game. The speed die is used in addition to the two classic white dice and with slightly altered rules. Players start the game with an additional $1,000. Each roll is performed with all three dice. The "speed die" has different markings than traditional dice and when rolled forces players into certain actions meant to accelerate the pace of the game.

In 2013, fans helped Hasbro decide through Facebook which “House Rules” should be considered for the standard game. As players were already creating their own personalized rules, Hasbro took this opportunity to include fans in the discussion over changes being made to the game. Several rules were added in 2014, including Free Parking, Fast Cash, Dash for the Cash, Frozen Assets, See the Sights, and Lucky Roller.

Image placeholder title

Some of the biggest yet lesser known changes to the game may be those from the original Landlord’s Game to the Monopoly of today.

While the goal of the Landlord’s Game was to obtain the most wealth, Lizzie Magie created the game as a criticism of capitalism. Her game was meant to show how, by collecting rents, landlords became rich at the expense of the tenants, who became increasingly poor.

However, as popularity grew, players began to change the rules and lose sight of her message. By the time Charles Darrow created Monopoly, Magie’s message was nowhere to be found.

In Monopoly Empire, introduced in 2013, the capitalist goal is clear: Players win by acquiring top corporations and creating empires. Causing opponents to go bankrupt is not necessary in this edition. Instead, the goal is to simply become the wealthiest player in the game.

Image placeholder title

There are over 300 licensed versions of the Monopoly game, covering various themes and available in many different languages. For the visually impaired, there is even a version in Braille. In 1990, Monopoly Junior was created and marketed to children over the age of 5.

In 2008, fans across the world set the record for the most people playing Monopoly at the same time and voted Montreal as the most expensive property on the "Monopoly Here & Now: The World Edition" board. It is clear that Hasbro takes participation and feedback from Monopoly's fans seriously, which does not go unnoticed.

Image placeholder title

Charles Darrow, at the suggestion of his nieces, created tokens that resembled charms on a charm bracelet. Monopoly’s original die-cast tokens were a lantern, racecar, purse, shoe, top hat, rocking horse, battleship, thimble, cannon, and an iron.

More than 20 different tokens have been created for different Monopoly editions, including a bag of money, and an elephant. In 2013, fans voted in Monopoly’s “Save Your Token” campaign for the iron piece to be substituted for a cat in the standard edition game.

Today, the standard tokens are a wheelbarrow, top hat, racecar, dog, boot, thimble, battleship, and cat.

Image placeholder title

Monopoly has left an impact not only on families across the world, but also on pop culture. Characters in both the book and movie versions of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest play a game of Monopoly, as well as characters in Gossip Girl and Zombieland.

McDonald’s (MCD) - Get Report has offered its Monopoly at McDonald’s Game since 1987. In this sweepstakes, McDonald's customers receive game pieces styled after the Monopoly board that they can redeem for various prizes. Prizes have ranged from free menu items and gift cards to a Super Bowl trip for two. Today, customers in over 10 countries can participate in the sweepstakes.

Additionally, the Monopoly brand has embraced the digital age. The game can be played on all major digital platforms, console, mobile, and online. In 2008, the iPhone added Monopoly to the App Store.

Image placeholder title

In honor of one of the world’s most popular gaming brands, Monopoly has developed an 80th Anniversary Edition Game. With a vintage board and an iconic token from each of its eight decades, this new edition embraces Monopoly’s evolution over the years.

To learn more about Monopoly, visit the official website.