Google's Monopoly: The Board Game, Not Antitrust

Screen shot 2009-09-07 at 3.15.32 PMIncreasingly these days you hear the words “Google” and “monopoly” in the same sentence. There is no shortage of fears that the search giant is getting too powerful in the search and online advertising space. But today, the two words are being joined for an entirely different reason: The board game Monopoly is about to launch an online version with Google Maps.

All the details aren’t clear yet, as the game won’t launch until September 9. But it would appear that Hasbro, makers of the Monopoly game, is attempting to turn the franchise into a massively multi-player online game. Called “Monopoly City Streets,” here’s a brief description that is offered on the teaser site:

The goal is simple. Play to beat your friends and the world to become the richest property magnate in existence.

Own any street in the world. Build humble houses, crazy castles and stupendous skyscrapers to collect rent. Use MONOPOLY Chance Cards to sabotage your mates by building Hazards on their streets.

It’s also not clear if this game will be an official partnership with Google, or if Hasbro is simply using Google Maps APIs. But the tie-in goes a bit deeper, as is revealed on the blog it set up for the game (on yes, Google’s Blogger platform). A post from Friday reads:

We still need 3 new building designs and we’d like YOU to design them!

MONOPOLY and Google SketchUp fans worldwide be sure to check back from next Tuesday 8 September for entry details and the chance to show the world your ultimate 3D building creation.

So it’s not just Google Maps, but also SketchUp that Hasbro is utilizing for this game. The UK’s Guardian is reporting that the game will run for 4 months. They’re also reporting that players starting a new game will get $3 million to play around with.

Without seeing it in action, this sounds like a brilliant idea for a massively multi-player online game. You’ll apparently be able to buy an property in the world. Of course, the social element that links together will be key, and it’s not yet clear what that will be. The Monopoly City Streets blog uses Google Friend Connect, but perhaps the game will have its own social web.