Sept. 9, 2009 -- It promises to be the biggest game of Monopoly the world has ever seen.
In a 21st century twist on the popular board game, toymaker Hasbro and tech giant Google have made the game available online, allowing players to compete in a worldwide, real-time version of the game.
Launched today, Monopoly City Streets uses the Google Maps platform to let users "buy" any street in the world. Once players create an online profile, they receive a handsome -- albeit make-believe -- $3 million to purchase, build and trade in neighborhoods close to home or the farthest-flung cities.
The site went live this morning but collapsed under the spike in traffic.
"We did anticipate an opening rush. But it has absolutely surpassed our expectations," said Pat Riso, a Hasbro spokeswoman. She said the company is working to increase the site's firepower and hopes to get the site back up and running smoothly in the next several hours.
Hasbro playfully called it "The biggest land grab of 2009" on the Monopoly blog.
The massive multiplayer game will remain online for four months and is timed to promote the release of Hasbro's newest 3-D Monopoly game, Monopoly City, which is available in stores this fall.
For the first time since Monopoly's launch in 1935, the company has changed key elements of the game, letting players build before owning all properties in a color group and giving them the option to "sabotage" opponents by building sewage plants and prisons.
"It's a completely new way to play Monopoly," said Riso. "From the first time you roll the dice, you can start building the city in the middle of the board game. … We felt it was time to do something to shake it up."
The online version of the new game reflects these changes, letting anyone in the world become a virtual real estate mogul. But instead of being restricted to the red hotels and green houses available in classic Monopoly, players can build windmills, skyscrapers, schools and other buildings to enhance the value of their property.
They can also construct sewage plants and other less-desirable additions to sabotage their opponents.
Each day you log-in, you get paid $1 million, in addition to the rent you might collect from your properties.
Street Value Based on Building Potential
The value of the streets is based on the building potential -- the more you build, the more rent you can collect.
The price tag attached to Wall Street, for example, is $2.6 million and Rodeo Drive costs $1.2 million. But the U.K.'s Downing Street goes for $231,000.
The goal of the game is to amass as much high-value property as possible, but for "bragging rights," the company said, not a tangible prize.
Monopoly City Streets is available in English, French, Spanish, Dutch and German.