Hasbro, which has long been a proponent of environmental sustainability, has announced that in 2020, the company will begin phasing out the usage of plastic in its new product packaging. This includes not only shrink wrap, but items such as blister packs, elastic bands, and polybags.

The company is hoping that by the end of 2022, it will have eliminated all plastic in its packaging. Hasbro’s commitment to the environment is long-standing. The company began eliminating wire ties in 2010, adding recycling labels to its products in 2016, using plant-based PET in 2018, and beginning a toy-recycling program called TerraCycle recently.

For other information about the phase-out of plastic at Hasbro, you can check out their website here. For more information about Hasbro’s corporate commitment to environmental sustainability, you can look here for further information.

Hasbro has announced the newest iteration of the perennially loved or hated board game, Monopoly Pizza. In Monopoly Pizza, players take up one of six metal pizza-centered pieces (give me the parmesan shaker please), and round the familiar looking board, complete with Free Parking and Jail. However, instead of properties, players collect pizza toppings, and although there is still money in this version, the goal is to gather pizza slice tokens when other players land on their toppings. Color sets of “properties” translate to combo sets of toppings, such as a veggie lovers’ pizza or a BBQ pie. The game comes with board, 6 tokens, 16 pizza cards, 16 each of chance and community chest cards, 64 cardboard pizza slice tokens, money, dice and instructions. Don’t wait, Monopoly Pizza is for players 8 and up, and is available right now.

After their recent release of Monopoly for Millenials, which had players buying experiences instead of property, their latest iteration of Monopoly seems aimed at the strike-it-rich generation who simply have the money … blasted at them.

“You get money! You get money! You get money! You get money! Everybody gets money!!!”

In Monopoly Cash Grab the bank is represented by a blaster gun which is loaded with $100 bills and Chance cards. Somebody then shoots the money and cards from the blaster and players rush to grab as much money and cards as possible. The Chance cards allow players to perform special abilities such as swopping money stacks with another player, or taking half a player’s money stack, or making all players pass their money stacks to the left. Once the blaster has fired all of its contents, the player with the most money wins. While the game supports 3-99 players, aged 8+, you may need to keep some riot gear ready if you try to play with too many players.

Monopoly Cash Grab is published by Hasbro and is currently available in select retail stores.

NBC Nightly News released a 2 minute video clip (access may be limited by geographic location) in which their reporter, Peter Alexander, reports that sales of classic board games such as Monopoly, Operation, and The Game of Life was up by 10% in 2014. This does not take into account hobby games growth during that time. They note that more people are taking a break from their digital devices to spend time with people by playing board games.

Mr. Alexander visits Game Haus Cafe in Glendale, California, a board game cafe where patrons pay $5 to have access to over 900 different board games. He notes that similar cafes are popping up nationwide (in the USA).

“It may sound like child’s play but board games are back, big time. Some might even say this is a golden age of games.”

Sales are up 10% from last year and the industry now garners 1.5 billion Dollars. Monopoly sales are up 15%, Operation is up by 40%, and The Game of life is up 45%. Hasbro’s factory in Massachusetts pumps out more than 27 million games a year and 29 trillion Dollars in play money. The top 9 best selling games in the country were produced by Hasbro.

Towards the latter half of the video they highlight hobby games and the variety it adds for consumers to choose from. They also highlight the Tabletop web series and the 500 000 strong audience per episode it garners.

The video can be seen at the NBC News website.

Hasbro and Nintendo have teamed up to create a followup to last year’s Monopoly Gamer, Monopoly Gamer: Mario Kart Edition. 2-4 players will race as Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach or Toad, collecting coins, avoiding banana peels, tossing turtle shells, and generally causing chaos along the board. Mario Kart Edition still has the Nintendo themed properties and character special abilities of the original, but now includes a special Grand Prix Race when players pass or land on “Go”. Additional characters will be available later this fall in Power Packs, and will include the favorites Bowser, Rosalina, Shy Guy, Metal Mario, Donkey Kong and Yoshi.

Monopoly Gamer: Mario Kart Edition is available now at GameStop Stores, and will be available at most other retailers in June.

Hasbro is working hard to make itself more appealing to the hobby market, and to just grow it’s own market share of the game and toy world.  In this vein they have launched design contests and used IndieGoGo to help fund new ideas as well as test the waters to gauge interest in new games.  Now Hasbro has gone a step further and created it’s own crowd-funding style platform called HasLab.  This new website allows them to put up things that are either too costly or too niche for wide release, and if enough people put in their money to purchase the item, then they will put the item into production.  This is similar to how GMT Games has a P500 system where when a game has 500 copies ordered, they print it.  Currently on the site is a 4′ replica of Jabba’s Sail Barge from Return of the Jedi, but who knows what could appear on this platform in the future.  You can check out the HasLab site for more info on the current project and the system itself.

I wouldn’t say Monopoly is the epitome of board games, but it is the game that everyone outside of the hobby thinks of when you say board games.  Monopoly also has a long history of being “house ruled” (ie money under free parking anyone?).

“The cheating has gone on too long! With nearly one out of every two MONOPOLY players bending – or breaking – the rules, we knew it was time to put an end to the cheating, and what better way to reach our fans than by leveraging the innovative Facebook Messenger technology,” said Jonathan Berkowitz, senior vice president of marketing for Hasbro Gaming. “With MONOPOLY CheatBot, we’re empowering fans to ‘report’ their family and friends for corrupt and questionable game play – with customized consequences to hopefully end MONOPOLY feuds for good.”

However, according to a recent study of nearly 2,000 players, it also has a history of cheating.  In the study nearly half of all the players confessed to have cheated at the game in order to win, and Mr. Monopoly just can’t have that.  So starting January 16th through February 16th, you can hop on Facebook Messenger and directly message the Monopoly CheatBot and he will dole out punishments and settle disputes in real time.  So cheaters beware, Mr. Monopoly isn’t going to play nicely with those who cheat.  You can head on over to the Monopoly Facebook page for more info and to message the Cheatbot.x

Tak has been getting a lot of good buzz. It’s a two player abstract strategy game with a ton of great reviews, landing it at number 16 on BGG for abstract games.  One thing about the game though is that it’s not small, nor is it exactly cheap, both aspects which Cheapass Games has aimed to fix.  In late February they will be releasing Tak: University Edition, which features the full game, but in a smaller and more affordable package.  The game itself has a deceptively easy goal, just create a road connecting your side of the board to the opponent’s side.  But accomplishing that goal is much more difficult because they can block you with walls, cover your pieces with their pieces, and even lock pieces in place.  But manage to out smart your opponent and you can claim victory.

Next is an expansion for Dropmix, a game being talked about not so much because of how good the game is, but because of the cool technology involved in game play.  The main component of the game is an electronic board that connects to your phone via bluetooth, and it’s on this board that all the magic happens.  In the various game modes you will be playing down cards onto the board, and depending on where you play them you will pull in different aspects of that song into the mix.  You might pull in vocals, the bass, the drums, and so on, all coming together to create a unique mix of music.  So far there have been cards produced in the pop, hip-hop, rock, and electronic genres for use in the game, but now they are adding something new, country.  This new pack will be like the others and include 15 cards along with one hidden track card, allowing you to pull your favorite country songs into the mix.  Look for this pack to be on store shelves at the start of February.

Wizards of the Coast: Maintaining Castles, Launching Boats

Image from rollingstone.com

Chris Cocks, President of Wizards of the Coast, spoke with Brian Crecente of Glixel, the Video Game Newsletter from RollingStone.com.  Chris Cocks arrived at Wizards of the Coast with years of experience in the video game industry, an industry he entered because of Baldur’s Gate, a video game that evoked his childhood memories playing Dungeons and Dragons.  During the interview, Chris emphasized that the company is going to build on its successes, but it is going to start taking more chances to innovate so it can grow. He describes his strategy for Wizards of the Coast as the Castles and Boats approach.

Image from businesswire.com

“The castles are the big brands with large fan bases, high expectations, lots of history and lore. We spend a lot of resources on those,” Chris says. “The boat is more of a test. It’s very fast, very flexible. If a boat doesn’t succeed, that’s OK; you can launch a new one.”

Wizards of the Coast is going to launch more boats. Not only is it planning on trying new thing with its current properties, it is tapping into properties of its parent company, Hasbro. While no formal announcement has been made on some of these “boats,” such the upcoming Transformers trading card game, Chris names more than a few possibilities and projects in the works.

To find out what Wizards of the Coast is maintaining as a castle and what some of the new boats may be, read the full interview of RollingStone.com here.

Expect to start seeing new and different things on the horizon from Wizards of the Coast.

Hasbro and Amazon have announced a new interactive version of the classic trivia game Trivial Pursuit.  Trivial Pursuit Tap is the first game that will utilize Amazon Alexa and the new Amazon Echo Buttons.

The Amazon Echo Buttons can be paired, using Bluetooth, to an Echo device and be used like buzzers and up to four Echo Buttons can be connected to an Echo device.  To answer a question in the game, simply press your Echo Button and the device will light up signaling that you can answer.

The Echo Button can be programmed for multiplayer or single-player games through Alexa skills.

Jonathan Berkowitz, senior vice president of marketing at Hasbro Gaming, said that this new technology “will make Trivial Pursuit more animated and exciting than ever.”

Scott Van Vliet, Director for Amazon Alexa, said “We’re excited that customers can now play the iconic Trivial Pursuit game with Alexa.  With Echo Buttons, game night can feel like a game show – and Alexa is the host. We can’t wait for customers to start playing.”

To learn more about click Trivial Pursuit Tap.