Monopoly is a board game published by Parker Brothers, a subsidiary of Hasbro. Players compete to acquire wealth through stylized economic activity involving the buying, renting, and trading of properties using play money, as players take turns moving around the board according to the roll of the dice. The object of the game is to bankrupt the other players. The game is named after the economic concept of monopoly, the domination of a market by a single entity.
According to Hasbro, since Charles Darrow patented the game in 1935, approximately 750 million people have played the game, making it "the most played (commercial) board game in the world. The 1999 Guinness Book of Records cited Hasbro's previous statistic of 500 million people having played Monopoly. Games Magazine has inducted Monopoly into its Hall of Fame.
The history of Monopoly can be traced back to the early 1900s. In 1904, a Quaker woman named Elizabeth (Lizzie) J. Magie Phillips created a game through which she hoped to be able to explain the single tax theory of Henry George (it was supposed to illustrate the negative aspects of concentrating land in private monopolies). Her game, The Landlord's Game, was commercially published a few years later. Other interested game players redeveloped the game and some made their own sets. Lizzie herself patented a revised edition of the game in 1904, and similar games were published commercially. By the early 1930s, a board game named Monopoly was created much like the version of Monopoly sold by Parker Brothers and its parent companies throughout the rest of the 20th century and into the 21st. The Parker Brothers' version was created by Charles Darrow. Several people, mostly in the U.S. Midwest and near the U.S. East Coast, contributed to the game's design and evolution.
In 1941 the British Secret Service had John Waddington Ltd., the licensed manufacturer of the game outside the U.S., create a special edition for World War II prisoners of war held by the Nazis. Hidden inside these games were maps, compasses, real money and other objects useful for escaping. They were distributed to prisoners by the International Red Cross.
By the 1970s, the game's early history had been lost (and at least one historian has argued that it was purposely suppressed - see below), and the idea that it had been created solely by Charles Darrow had become popular folklore. This was stated in the 1974 book The Monopoly Book: Strategy and Tactics of the World's Most Popular Game, by Maxine Brady, and even in the instructions of the game itself. As Professor Ralph Anspach fought Parker Brothers and its then parent company, General Mills, over the trademarks of the Monopoly board game, much of the early history of the game was "rediscovered."
Because of the lengthy court process, and appeals, the legal status of Parker Brothers' trademarks on the game was not settled until the mid-1980s. The game's name remains a registered trademark of Parker Brothers, as do its specific design elements. Parker Brothers' current corporate parent, Hasbro, again acknowledges only the role of Charles Darrow in the creation of the game. Anspach published a book about his researches, called The Billion Dollar Monopoly Swindle (and republished as Monopolygate), in which he makes his case about the purposeful suppression of the game's early history and development.
The game's official mascot is Rich Uncle Pennybags, who first appeared on the game's Chance and Community Chest cards in 1936. Since 1985, he appears on the second "O" in the word Monopoly as part of the logo. Hasbro officially renamed the character Mr. Monopoly in 1998.
The character of Pennybags is loosely based on American billionaire J. P. Morgan.
This is the original version produced by Charles Darrow, and later by Parker Brothers. The board consists of forty spaces containing twenty-eight properties, three Chance spaces, three Community Chest spaces, a Luxury Tax space, an Income Tax space, and the four corner squares: GO, Jail, Free Parking, and Go to Jail. In the U.S. version shown below, the properties are named after locations in (or near) Atlantic City, New Jersey.
|Free Parking|| Kentucky Avenue|
|Chance|| Indiana Avenue|
| Illinois Avenue|
| B&O Railroad|
| Atlantic Avenue|
| Ventnor Avenue|
| Water Works|
| Marvin Gardens|
|Go To Jail|
| New York Avenue|
|Monopoly|| Pacific Avenue|
| Tennessee Avenue|
| North Carolina Avenue|
|Community Chest||Community Chest|
| St. James Place|
| Pennsylvania Avenue|
| Short Line|
| Virginia Avenue|
| States Avenue|
| Park Place|
| Electric Company|
| Luxury Tax|
| St. Charles Place|
|Jail/Just Visiting||Chance|| Reading Railroad|
| Income Tax|
(Pay 10% or $200)
|Community Chest|| GO|
Collect $200 salary
| Connecticut Avenue|
| Vermont Avenue|
| Oriental Avenue|
| Baltic Avenue|
| Mediterranean Avenue|
A player who reaches the Jail space by a direct roll of the dice is said to be "just visiting", and continues normal play on the next turn.
Marvin Gardens, a yellow property on the board shown, is actually a misspelling of the original location name, Marven Gardens. Marven Gardens is not a street, but a housing area outside Atlantic City. The housing area is said to be derived from Margate City and Ventnor City in New Jersey (emphasis added). The misspelling was introduced by Charles Darrow when his home-made Monopoly board was copied by Parker Brothers. It was not until 1995 that Parker Brothers acknowledged this mistake and formally apologized to the residents of Marven Gardens for the misspelling. Another change made by Todd and duplicated by Darrow, and later Parker Brothers, was the use of South Carolina Avenue. North Carolina Avenue was substituted for this street on the board.
Atlantic City's Illinois Avenue was renamed Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in the 1980s. Saint Charles Place no longer exists, as the Showboat Casino Hotel was developed where it once ran.
Short Line is believed to refer to the Shore Fast Line, a streetcar line that served Atlantic City. The B&O Railroad did not serve Atlantic City. A booklet included with the reprinted 1935 edition states that the four railroads that served Atlantic City in the mid 1930s were the Jersey Central, the Seashore Lines, the Reading Railroad, and the Pennsylvania Railroad. The actual "Electric Company" and "Water Works" serving the city are respectively Atlantic City Electric Company (a subsidiary of Pepco Holdings) and the Atlantic City Municipal Utilities Authority.
The other versions of the game have different property names, and the prices may be denominated in another currency, but the game mechanics are almost identical. The income tax choice from the U.S. version is replaced by a flat rate in the UK version, and the $75 Luxury Tax space is replaced with the £100 Super Tax space. The same is true of current German boards, with a €200 for the Income Tax space on the board, and a €100 Add-on tax in place of the Luxury Tax. An Austrian version, released by Parker Brothers/Hasbro in 2001, does allow for the 10% or $200 for Income Tax and has a $100 Luxury Tax.
In the 1930s, John Waddington Ltd. (Waddingtons) was a firm of printers from Leeds that had begun to branch out into packaging and the production of playing cards. Waddingtons had sent the card game Lexicon to Parker Brothers hoping to interest them in publishing the game in the United States. In a similar fashion Parker Brothers sent over a copy of Monopoly to Waddingtons early in 1935 before the game had been put into production in the United States.
The managing director of Waddingtons, Victor Watson, gave the game to his son Norman (who was head of the card games division) to test over the weekend. Norman was impressed by the game and persuaded his father to call Parker Brothers on Monday morning - transatlantic calls then being almost unheard of. This call resulted in Waddingtons obtaining a license to produce and market the game outside of the United States. Watson felt that in order for the game to be a success in the United Kingdom the American locations would have to be replaced, so Victor and his secretary, Marjory Phillips, went to London to scout out locations. The Angel, Islington is not a street in London but an area of North London named after a coaching inn that stood on the Great North Road. By the 1930s the inn had become a Lyons Corner House (it is now a Co-operative Bank). Some accounts say that Marjory and Victor met at the Angel to discuss the selection and celebrated the fact by including it on the Monopoly board. In 2003, a plaque commemorating the naming was unveiled at the site by Victor Watson's grandson who is also named Victor.
The standard English board, produced by Waddingtons, was for many years the version most familiar to people in countries in the Commonwealth (except Canada, where the U.S. edition with Atlantic City-area names was reprinted), although local variants of the board are now also found in several of these countries (see Localized versions of the Monopoly game).
In the cases where the game was produced under license by a national company, the £ (pound) was replaced by a $ (dollar) sign, but the place names were unchanged.
|Free Parking||Strand (£220)||Chance||Fleet Street (£220)||Trafalgar Square (£240)||Fenchurch Street station (£200)||Leicester Square (£260)||Coventry Street (£260)||Water Works (£150)||Piccadilly (£280)||Go to Jail|
| Vine Street|
|Monopoly|| Regent Street|
| Marlborough Street|
| Oxford Street|
|Community Chest||Community Chest|
| Bow Street|
| Bond Street|
|Marylebone station (£200)||Liverpool Street station (£200)|
| Northumberland Avenue|
| Park Lane|
| Electric Company|
| Super Tax|
| Pall Mall|
|Jail||Chance||King's Cross station (£200)|| Income Tax|
|Community Chest|| GO|
|Pentonville Road (£120)||Euston Road (£100)||The Angel Islington (£100)||Whitechapel Road (£60)||Old Kent Road (£60)|
For a list of some of the localized versions, including the UK "Here & Now" edition, and the names of their properties, see localized versions of the Monopoly game.
Starting in the UK in 2005, a "What if Monopoly was invented today?" board, called Monopoly Here and Now was produced, updating game scenarios, properties and tokens. Similar boards were produced for Germany and France. Variants of these first editions appeared with Visa-branded debit cards taking the place of cash - the later US "Electronic Banking" edition has unbranded debit cards.
The success of the first Here and Now editions caused Hasbro US to allow online voting for 26 landmark properties across the United States to take their places along the game board. The popularity of this voting, in turn, caused the creation of similar websites, and secondary game boards per popular vote to be created in the UK, France, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and other nations.
Hasbro opened a new website in January 2008, for online voting of the Monopoly Here and Now: World Edition. The colored property spaces will be worldwide cities, going by the same vote/popularity formula as established for national editions.
In 2006, Winning Moves Games released another edition, the Mega Edition, with a larger game board (50% bigger) and revised game play. Other streets from Atlantic City (eight, one per a color group) were included, along with a 1000 denomination note (first seen in Winning Moves' "Monopoly: The Card Game"). Game play is further changed with bus tickets, a speed die (itself adopted into variants of the Atlantic City Standard Edition), skyscrapers (after houses and hotels) and train depots that can be placed on the Railroad spaces.
This edition was adapted for the UK market in 2007, and is sold by Winning Moves UK. After the initial US release, critiques of some of the rules caused the company to issue revisions and clarifications on their website.
Winning Moves struggled to raise the sponsorship deals for the game boards, but did so eventually. A Nottingham Graphic Design agency, TMA, produced the visual design of the Monopoly packaging. Initially, in December 1998, the game was sold in just a few WHSmith stores, but demand was high, with almost fifty thousand games shipped in the 4 weeks leading up to Christmas. Winning Moves still produce new city and regional editions annually. Nottingham based designers Guppi have been responsible for the games' visual design since 2001.
In 2008 Hasbro released a world edition of Monopoly Here & Now. This world edition features top locations of the world. The locations were decided by votes over the Internet. The result of the voting was announced on August 20, 2008.
The new game will not use any particular currency; it uses millions and thousands. As seen above, there is no Dark Purple color-group, as that is replaced by brown.
Each player is represented by a small metal token that is moved around the edge of the board according to the roll of two dice. The twelve playing pieces currently used are pictured at left (from left to right): a wheelbarrow (1937b edition), a battleship, a sack of money (1999 editions onwards), a horse and rider, a car, a train (Deluxe Edition only), a thimble, a cannon, an old style shoe (sometimes called a boot), a Scottie dog, an iron, and a top hat.
Many of the tokens came from companies such as Dowst Miniature Toy Company, which made metal charms and tokens designed to be used on charm bracelets. The battleship and cannon were also used briefly in the Parker Brothers war game Conflict (released in 1940), but after the game failed on the market, the premade pieces were recycled into Monopoly usage. Hasbro recently adopted the battleship and cannon for Diplomacy.
Early localized editions of the standard edition (including some Canadian editions, which used the U.S. board layout) did not include pewter tokens but instead had generic wooden head-shaped tokens identical to those in Sorry!. Parker Brothers also acquired Sorry! in the 1930s.
Other items included in the standard edition are:
Hasbro also sells a Deluxe Edition, which is mostly identical to the classic edition but has wooden houses and hotels and gold-toned tokens, including one token in addition to the standard eleven, a railroad locomotive. Other additions to the Deluxe Edition include a card carousel, which holds the title deed cards, and money printed with two colors of ink.
In 1978, retailer Neiman Marcus manufactured and sold an all-Chocolate edition of Monopoly through its "Christmas Wish Book" for that year. The entire set was edible, including the money, dice, hotels, properties, tokens and playing board. The set retailed for US$600.
In 2000, the F.A.O. Schwarz store in New York City sold a custom version called One-Of-A-Kind Monopoly for US$100,000. This special edition comes in a locking attaché case made with Napolino leather and lined in suede, and features include:
The Guinness Book of World Records states that a set worth US$2,000,000 and made of 23-carat gold, with rubies and sapphires atop the chimneys of the houses and hotels, is the most expensive Monopoly set ever produced.
Each player begins the game with his or her token on the Go square, and $1500 (or 1500 of a localized currency) in play money, divided as follows in the U.S. standard rules:
The British version has an initial cash distribution of:
Pre-Euro German editions of the game started with 30,000 "Spielmark" in eight denominations (abbreviated as "M."), and later used seven denominations of the "Deutsche Mark" ("DM."). In the classic Italian game, each player receives ₤350,000 ($3500) in a two-player game, but ₤50,000 ($500) less for each player more than two. Only in a six-player game does a player receive the equivalent of $1500. The classic Italian games were played with only four denominations of currency. At least one Spanish edition (the Barcelona edition) started the game with 150,000 in play money, with a breakdown identical to that of the American version.
All property deeds, houses, and hotels are held by the bank until bought by the players. Free passes may be issued if owner of property is using free passes as a transaction.
Players take turns in order, with the initial player determined by chance before the game. A typical turn begins with the rolling of the dice and advancing clockwise around the board the corresponding number of squares. Landing on Chance or Community Chest, a player draws the top card from the respective pile. If the player lands on an unowned property, whether street, railroad or utility, he can buy the property for its listed purchase price. If he declines this purchase, the property is auctioned off by the bank to the highest bidder. If the property landed on is already owned and unmortgaged, he must pay the owner a given rent, the price dependent on whether the property is part of a monopoly or its level of development. If a player rolls doubles, he rolls again after completing his turn. Three sets of doubles in a row, however, land the player in jail. During a turn, players may also choose to develop or mortgage properties. Development involves the construction, for given amounts of money paid to the bank, of houses or hotels. Development must be uniform across a monopoly, such that a second house cannot be built on one property in a monopoly until the others have one house. No merges between players are allowed. All developments must be sold before a property can be mortgaged. The player receives money from the bank for each mortgaged property, which must be repaid with interest to unmortgage.
Parker Brothers' official instructions have long encouraged the use of House Rules, specific additions to or subtractions from the official rule sets. Many casual Monopoly players are surprised to discover that some of the rules that they are used to are not part of the official rules. Many of these house rules tend to make the game longer by randomly giving players more money. Some common house rules are listed below:
House rules, while unofficial, are not wholly unrecognized by Parker Brothers. George S. Parker himself created two variants, to shorten the length of game play. Video game and computer game versions of Monopoly have options where popular house rules can be used. House rules that have the effect of randomly introducing more money into the game have a side-effect of increasing the time it takes for players to become bankrupt, lengthening the game considerably, as well as decreasing the effects of strategy and prudent investment. House rules which increase the amount of money in the game may change the strategies of the players, such as changing the relative value of different properties- the more money in the game, the more one may wish to invest in the higher value properties.
According to the laws of probability, seven is the most probable roll of two dice, with a probability of 1 in 6, whereas 2 and 12 are the least probable rolls, each with a probability of one in 36. For this reason, Park Place/Park Lane is one of the least landed-on squares as the square seven places behind it is Go to Jail.
In consequence, some properties are landed upon more than others and the owners of those properties get more income from rent. The board layout factors include the following:
According to Jim Slater in The Mayfair Set, there is an overwhelming case for having the orange sites, because you land on them more often, the reason for that being the cards in chance like go to jail, advance to St. Charles Place (Pall Mall ), advance to Reading Railroad (King's Cross Station) and go back three spaces.
In all, during game play, Illinois Avenue (Trafalgar Square), New York Avenue (Vine Street), B&O Railroad (Fenchurch Street Station), and Reading Railroad (King's Cross Station) are the most frequently landed-upon properties. Mediterranean Avenue (Old Kent Road) and Baltic Avenue (Whitechapel Road) are the least-landed-upon properties.
In order to put a cap on total development of property sets in the game, there are only 12 hotels and 32 houses. This limitation is in place to ensure that property sets cannot be developed unless there are houses or hotels available to purchase from the bank. This cap allows a certain amount of dominance to be developed by some players, because if every set of property were fully developed there would be enough rent collected between different players to allow the game to drag on for an extended period. This limitation on numbers of houses and hotels leads to an advantage for one player. Simply building each lot out to a maximum of 4 houses and then refusing to upgrade to hotels ensures that nearly the maximum amount of rent is collected for each property, and the monopolization of the houses from the game prevents opponents from developing their property. It is conceivable that a single player could end up owning all 32 houses near the end of the game, and the refusal to upgrade to hotels makes these houses unavailable for opponents to purchase for any property they may own.
Much of the skill comes from knowing how to make the best use of a player's resources and above all knowing how to strike a good bargain. Monopoly is a social game where players often interact and must deal with each other in ways similar to real world real estate bargaining. Note that the best deal is not always for the most expensive property; it is often situational, dependent on money resources available to each player and even where players happen to be situated on the board. When looking to deal, a player should attempt to bargain with another player who not only possess properties he or she needs but also properties the other player needs. In fact, offering relatively fair deals to other players can end up helping the player making the offer by giving him or her a reputation as an honest trader, which can make players less wary of dealings in the future. What is more, most people play Monopoly with the same group repeatedly. For this reason, such a reputation can have effects far beyond the game being played.
Played strictly to the rules, many games will be effectively decided when one player succeeds in bankrupting another because the bankrupt player gives all his property to the one to whom he could not pay his debt. A player who thus gains a fistful of properties will virtually control the game from that point onwards since other players will be constantly at risk. On the other hand, if a player is bankrupted by being unable to meet his debt to the bank (e.g., a fine or tax or other debt that is not rent), then his property is auctioned off; this can open up new possibilities in a game which was evenly set or in which a lot of property sets were divided among the players.
The Monopoly Mega Edition is geared towards faster play by incorporating more squares and enabling players to build without the full color-group.
Another path to a faster ending is by a key property bargain, whether it be a very shrewd trade which sets one player up with a well-positioned set or a very rash trade where an inexperienced player gives his experienced opponent an underpriced gem. Either way, a deal which pays off for one player is most often the turning point of the game.
A third way to finish the game is to wait for all of the property to be bought. Once this has occurred, the player with the highest value of money and assets is victorious.
Another way is to remove the $200 bonus gained by passing "Go". This ensures that players run out of money quickly.
Some players, in an attempt to lessen the huge advantage gained by the first player to bankrupt another player, have the bankrupted player pay what he can to the player he is indebted to (including the money from mortgages), and then forfeit the properties, so that they are back on the market and open to purchase by other players.
Hasbro states that the longest game of Monopoly ever played lasted 1,680 hours (70 days or 10 weeks or 2 1/2 months).
The best-known expansion to the game is the Stock Exchange add-on, originally published by Parker Brothers in 1936 (Monopoly/Stock Exchange). In the Stock Exchange add-on, the Free Parking square is replaced (covered over) with the Stock Exchange space. The add-on included three each of Chance and Community Chest cards directing the player to "Advance to Stock Exchange."
The add-on also included thirty stock certificates, five for each of the six different stocks, differing only in the purchase price (or Par Value), ranging from $100 to $150. Shares, like properties, can be considered to be tradeable material, and could also be mortgaged for half their purchase price. Shareholders could increase the value of their shares by buying up more of the same company's shares.
When a player moves onto Free Parking/Stock Exchange, stock dividends are paid out to all players with any non-mortgaged shares. The amount to be paid out to each player is determined based on the number and kind of shares owned. Specifically, a player receives dividends from each stock based on the following mathematical formula:
The player who lands on Free Parking/Stock Exchange can also choose to buy a share if any remain. Should the player decline, the 1936 rules explicitly state that an auction is held for the privilege of purchasing a share, and this would appear to imply that the winner of the auction for that privilege then pays the regular price for the share chosen after winning the auction.
The Stock Exchange add-on serves to inject more money into the game, in a similar manner to railroad properties, as well as changing the relative values of properties. In particular, the Orange and Light Purple properties are more valuable due to the increased chance of landing on Free Parking, at the expense of the Red and Yellow groups.
The Stock Exchange add-on was later redesigned and rereleased in 1992 under license by Chessex, this time including a larger number of new Chance and Community Chest cards. This version included ten new Chance cards (five ADVANCE TO STOCK EXCHANGE and five other related cards) and eleven new Community Chest cards (five ADVANCE TO STOCK EXCHANGE and six other related cards; the regular Community Chest card "From sale of stock you get $45" is removed from play when using these cards). Many of the original rules applied to this new version (in fact, one optional play choice allows for playing in the original form by only adding the ADVANCE TO STOCK EXCHANGE cards to each deck).
A Monopoly Stock Exchange Edition was released in 2001 (although not in the US), this time adding an electronic calculator-like device to keep track of the complex stock figures. This was a full edition, not just an add-on, that came with its own board, money and playing pieces. Properties on the board were replaced by companies on which shares could be floated, and offices and home offices (instead of houses and hotels) could be built.
Playmaster, another official add-on, released in 1982, was an electronic device that kept track of all player movement and dice rolls as well as what properties are still available. It then uses this information to call random auctions and mortgages that will be advantageous for some players and a punishment for others, making it easier to free up cards of a color group. It also plays eight short tunes when key game functions occur, for example when a player lands on a railroad it will play I've Been Working on the Railroad.
On June 19, 2007, Ridley Scott announced that he was directing a comedy-thriller based on the game, featuring a variety of young actors to generate interest in the game. Scarlett Johannson and Kirsten Dunst have been considered so far.
Monopoly Tycoon is a PC game in the Tycoon series that makes strategy and speed into determining factors for winning the game, eliminating completely the element of luck inherent in the dice rolls of the original. The game uses the U.S. standard Atlantic City properties as its basis, but the game play is unique to this version. The game also allows for solo and multiplayer online games.
Monopoly Casino is also a PC game, simulating a casino full of Monopoly-based adaptations of various casino games (most notably, slot machines). This program was released in both standard and "Vegas" editions, each featuring unique games.
Monopoly: Star Wars is another PC game based on the standard Monopoly board but with Star Wars characters and locations.
On April 23, 2008, Electronic Arts announced that they would be releasing in Q3 2008 a new version of Monopoly for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii video game consoles.. In September of 2008, Electronic Arts' Pogo division released an online version of MONOPOLY Here & Now: The World Edition
In June 2008, Electronic Arts and iTunes released a Monopoly game for iPod (fifth generation), iPod Nano (third generation), and iPod Classic.
Parker Brothers and its licensees have also sold several games which are spinoffs of Monopoly. These are not add-ons, as they do not function as an addition to the Monopoly game, but are simply additional games in the flavor of Monopoly.
There was also a live, online version of Monopoly. Six painted taxis drive around London picking up passengers. When the taxis reach their final destination, the region of London that they are in is displayed on the online board. This version takes far longer to play than board-game monopoly, with one game lasting 24 hours. Results and position are sent to players via e-mail at the conclusion of the game.
Several published games are similar to Monopoly. These include: