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Times Square Gets Jump on Boardwalk

September 13, 2006|From Bloomberg News

New York's Times Square is the new Boardwalk, the property with the highest rent, in Hasbro Inc.'s Monopoly "Here & Now" edition, set to arrive at store shelves on Thursday.

About 3.5-million Internet votes were cast in a survey by Hasbro that asked consumers to determine which landmarks from 22 U.S. cities would replace game-board spaces named after streets in Atlantic City, N.J., said Mark Blecher, senior vice president for marketing at Hasbro Games.

The updated Monopoly board replaces Atlantic City's iconic Park Place and Ventnor Avenue with landmarks including the Golden Gate Bridge, the White House and Disney World. More than 250 million copies of Monopoly have been sold in 80 countries and 26 languages since its introduction in 1935, Hasbro said.

"In order to liven a brand, you have to keep updating it and making it new to people," said Jim Silver, editor of Toy Wishes magazine, a New York-based publication. "This is definitely going to be one of the hot games of the year."

Hasbro, based in Pawtucket, R.I., has released more than 200 versions of Monopoly, including ones based on colleges, sports teams, television shows such as "The Simpsons" and films including "Star Wars."

Hasbro lifted property values and rent -- landing on a hotel in Times Square costs $20 million, up from $2,000 for Boardwalk. It replaced the four railroads with the busiest U.S. airports, including John F. Kennedy International in New York and Chicago O'Hare.

In the new edition, players collect $2 million instead of $200 each time they pass Go. New Chance and Community Chest cards include getting a $500 tax break for driving a hybrid vehicle, winning $100,000 in a reality TV show and getting sent to jail for identity theft and insider trading.

Hasbro board-game sales rose in the last two quarters after falling 8.2% in 2005. Chief Executive Alfred Verrecchia, 63, is introducing other new versions of certain classic games, including a 1980s version of Trivial Pursuit.

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