Launched February 1st, 2011, Monopoly Millionaires is the first of the Hasbro titles that Playfish, under the umbrella of EA Interactive, has brought to Facebook. Rising to 128,000 daily active users and over 585,000 monthly active users in less than three weeks after its inauguration, according to AppData, Monopoly Millionaires looks to continue the slow but steadily rising trend as it continues to iterate for the Facebook audience (see our interview earlier this week with producer Adam Gutterman for more on that).
The original Monopoly is a competitive game, with the goal of monopolizing the board, hence the name of the game. Playfish has managed to turn Monopoly on its head and remake it into a social game.
The original look and feel, the basic mechanics of gaining property, building hotels, rolling the die and moving the Monopoly movers, tapping the board with each move is retained. But instead of playing against your friends, each player has their own board to customize and visit their neighbors to roll on their boards. The player gets a number of rolls each play session that regenerates over time. When the player lands on a property, however, instead of being able to buy that property or paying rent should it belong to the board owner, the player gets to select one of four cards in a mini-game and either walks away with a property card or not. Rolling doubles gains you another roll and you can get also land on “treats” that randomly spawn on boards for cash, rolls or property cards. The player draws Chance and Community Chest “cards” in a similar four-card mini-game when they land on those spaces and pay a train fare when they land on a train station whether or not it takes them to another station. Like regular Monopoly, players also get sent to jail and get the chance to roll doubles to get out.
Players can build the first basic hotels on any and all their properties on their board as long as they have the Monopoly Money to do so. Then they earn more Monopoly money by paying some cash to “turn on the light.” As long as the lights are on, the hotels will generate cash over time. Players also earn money from by rolling on other boards through lucky Chance and Community Chest cards, landing on treats and of course, passing “Go” to collect $200 in Monopoly Money. Quests also provide cash and are as simple as rolling on a number of different boards, passing “Go” a number of times as well as buying and placing decorations. To upgrade hotels, players have to collect a certain number of sets of property cards per upgrade; one set for the first and three for the second. Then, there are traps that can be set by the board owner. These can suck Monopoly money from another player like the Speed Trap or move a move token a few spaces if they land nearby.
Monopoly Gold purchased with Facebook Credits is the currency that purchases traps, other Monopoly movers and some decorations. Different Monopoly movers do different things. The dog, for example, can be bought with the free gold that is provided when a player first plays the game and it puts a paw print on the back of a property card in the mini-game. The race car increases the chances of rolling doubles to gain additional moves and of course getting out of jail.
At time of writing, the game could use some transparency in the gifting feature, and tool-tips in the game. For considerate Facebook denizens with a large number of friends and a stance against spamming them, being able to see which friends already play Monopoly helps in gifting as well as sending of neighbor invitations. A player landing in jail for the first time and seeing a message that informs them they have to stay there for three minutes when they do not roll doubles to get them out could end up feeling disgusted and move to another game — or so it might seem. The player is just prevented from rolling on that board. They can go to another board and continue playing there.
All in all, Monopoly Millionaires manages to retain the feel of the original Monopoly despite the cooperative gameplay. As for future development, there is a great deal of open space in the middle of the board that Playfish calls a “blank canvas” and we are promised more useful decorations and attractions such as player placed treats to get other players to visit your board.