Massive multiplayer online games, previously the domain of hard core gamer geeks and role playing nerds, could finally go mainstream if the astonishing uptake of Monopoly City Streets is anything to go by.
Whilst other massive multiplayer online games have developed cult followings, the sheer volume of interest in Monopoly City Maps saw it barely functioning on its launch as massive numbers of people from all over the globe caused its servers to choke and wheeze but thankfully not give up the ghost.
For those of use lucky enough to finally get in, the initial land grab was a fiercely fought affair, made all the more bizarre by the fact that everyone was doing it in slow-motion whilst the game's servers struggled to keep up with surging demand.
Essentially a massively multiplayer version of the original board game, Monopoly City Streets uses Google Maps as its game board and allows players to buy up streets in any city covered by Google Maps. Each user kicks off with approximately M2.1 million.
As with traditional Monopoly, streets have a rental income which is paid out every 24 hours. This can in turn be further supplemented by adding buildings (there's a multitude available) to streets.
Where the original game was overly simplistic, using real world data from Google adds a whole new dimension. Take the purchase prices and rental values of streets for instance. Posh real-estate costs more but also delivers better rental returns.
Adding an additional twist to the games proceedings, players can also commit acts of sabotage by placing power plants, sewage works and other undesirable buildings on streets purchased by competing players to lower their value. Players can also spy on each other and see what has been bought and sold (hopefully this will be expanded in the near future to incorporate some form of instant messaging and social networking, which could really bring the game to life).
The game's developers appear to have been caught completely off-guard by the sheer success of the game and apologised on their blog: "We ANTICIPATED an opening rush when we launched the Monopoly City Streets online game, but the first few hours have surpassed even our greatest EXPECTATIONS,"
Whilst heartfelt, Hasbro's apologies also had them incurring the wrath as many irate users complained that they'd been unable to log in and that most big name streets had been nabbed by those who'd got in.
Hasbro are now said to be contemplating a reset of the game, which would effectively take all players back to a fresh start.
Having managed to purchase the street I live on and several others, I was instantly hooked. Not only does Monopoly City Streets manage to be both intuitive and fun to play (albeit in a slow-mo fashion), it manages to take what was essentially a simple and boring board game to the next level.
Here's hoping Hasbro/Google can add extra server oomph as demand increases off the back of word getting out about just how fun it is to play.
To give your inner property developer a workout with Monopoly City Streets, visit www.monopolycitystreets.com .
Source: NZ Herald