By Kevin Burbach
PIERRE, S.D. — The plastic red hotel will still ruin you, but instead of advancing to Boardwalk to face your demise, you’ll take a long walk off a short Pierre.
Pierre, the tiny South Dakota capital pronounced “pier” by its roughly 14,000 residents, will hold the top spot in a new version of Monopoly featuring U.S. cities that is due out this fall. The names of Pierre and 21 other cities will replace those of the Atlantic City, New Jersey, sites that appear in the game’s original, 1935 version.
Hasbro Inc. left it to voters to choose which cities would appear in the two new versions it is putting out, including one that will feature world cities, and Pierre’s citizens responded in force. More than 4 million votes were cast, and Pierre, the second-smallest state capital, came out first. It will pair with Minneapolis — the new Park Place — to bankrupt opponents unlucky to spend a night at one of their swanky hotels. Penny-pinchers — or those hoarding white $1 bills — can spend a turn in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.
The new versions celebrate the 80 years of hoarding fake cash and bankrupting family members during summer vacations. But it’s the third consecutive year that Hasbro has turned to social media to decide on tweaks to its popular game. Previously, fans decided to add a cat token and retired the iron, and they were also invited to incorporate their favorite “house” rules into the wider game.
“What’s so important these days is to have your fans help tell you where the brand should go,” said Jonathan Berkowitz, Hasbro’s vice president of marketing.
There will be other changes to the new versions, including a faster style of play in which players collect different properties in their passport to win. The company incorporated suggestions from players who wanted to see a quicker pace, Berkowitz said.
The idea of adorning the world-famous monopoly board with Pierre, an old government town whose Capitol building still has saloon-style doors on the bathroom stalls, captivated local officials, media and residents. The city’s part-time mayor took to the local radio stations, teachers developed class activities around the contest and the state tourism department sent out social media blasts encouraging South Dakotans to help land Pierre on the board.
“We got the community engaged, and it became for us, in our smaller community, an exciting thing to be able to promote what we have going on here,” said Laurie Gill, who serves as mayor outside of her day job. “And I don’t know that it was picked up that way in some larger the communities.”