September 14th, 2006

Signs of the Times

Washington Post

A new Monopoly hits stores today. The Here & Now version brings the 71-year-old board game into the 21st century, says Hasbro, which makes Monopoly.

One of the biggest changes is that all of the Atlantic City sites have been replaced—thanks to voters in an online poll. Boardwalk is now Times Square in New York City. Park Place is now Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.

Disney World and Hollywood are in; the four railroads are out, replaced by four airports.

Oh, and when you pass Go, instead of $200—really, how much can you buy with $200 these days?—you now collect $2 million. But if you land on the White House property and it has a hotel, it will cost you $14 million.

Not everyone thinks the new Monopoly is an improvement. That’s because five of its tokens are styled after brand-name products. The car is a Toyota Prius, and the tennis shoe is from New Balance. The other branded items are from McDonald’s, Starbucks and Motorola.

“Shame on Hasbro for hawking junk food and caffeine to children,” Gary Ruskin, who heads Commercial Alert, a group opposed to businesses profiting this way, said in a statement. He called the new game a giant ad.

Hasbro’s Pat Riso said the companies did not ask to have their products used as tokens, nor did they pay to do so. “We were simply looking at what are the things that are most representative of pop culture,” she said.

More than 250 million copies of Monopoly have been sold since 1935, making it the world’s most popular board game, Hasbro says.

For fans who aren’t eager to play the 21st-century version, “classic” Monopoly—with its familiar tokens—is still available.

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