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How Monopoly Keeps Passing Go
Everybody cheats at Monopoly.
Or, at the very least, they make up their own rules. Every family has its own unique sets of house rules for the classic board game. Some are as simple as collecting an extra $500 at the start of the game, while others are more complex such as shared property investments.
Monopoly has known for decades that people were making up their own rules. But rather than push back, the company made it part of its marketing efforts.
First, it used the proven tactic of surveying players. It found that nearly 70% never read the entire rulebook, and more than three quarters use a “fake rule.”
Then, Monopoly took to its Facebook page to determine which off-the-books rules would be included in the Monopoly: House Rules Edition limited release.
Each new tactic brought a new round of coverage for what was essentially an updated rule book for a decades-old board game. After that initial release, the house rules were added to the classic Monopoly game as unofficial, optional rules.
The House Always Wins
House Rules wasn’t the only time Hasbro took a hint from customers.
In 2018, the company introduced the Cheaters Edition encouraging rule-breakers to let loose and challenging them with new cheating tasks. The company has also found ways to reignite interest in the game by pairing it with trending brands like Game of Thrones, national parks, local sports teams and more.
As a cornerstone of American culture, Monopoly has resisted any fundamental change to its gameplay or Atlantic City streets since it hit store shelves in 1935. However, with versions like House Rules and Cheaters Edition, the brand has found its own way to acknowledge how consumers are using the product and keep them connected to the game.
Monopoly knew that avid players were using their own sets of rules (or cheating). Rather than pushing back on those differences, it embraced them and took steps to better understand them. As it turns out, those unofficial rules were newsworthy and created an opportunity to build engagement and excitement with Monopoly fans everywhere.