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Boylston Street sold - on online Monopoly game

Hasbro puts new spin on old board game using Google Maps

By Hiawatha Bray
Globe Staff / September 9, 2009

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For decades, fans of the real estate board game Monopoly have squabbled over ownership of Park Place or Virginia Avenue. But a new Internet version of the game lets players bid for control of such familiar streets as Boston’s Massachusetts Avenue, Chicago’s State Street, or New York City’s Broadway. The game uses Google Inc.’s Internet mapping service Google Maps to allow players to make simulated purchases of real-world real estate anywhere on Earth.

“You should be able to buy just about any street in the world,’’ said Pat Riso, a spokeswoman for Hasbro Inc. of Pawtucket, R.I., which produces Monopoly games.

To play Monopoly City Streets, Web users log on to www.monopolycitystreets.com where they receive $3 million in digital Monopoly money. Next, they type in a real-world street name and city. Up pops a Google map of the location. If the street has not yet been purchased by someone else, the player can buy it and start building homes and office buildings. Property owners earn virtual Monopoly money by collecting daily rents on each property. Players can sell their properties to each other. They can also sabotage a competitor by purchasing a nearby street and building eyesores, like garbage dumps. This will reduce the value of the rival’s real estate holdings.

A number of valuable Boston properties were quickly snapped up during a recent trial of the game. Boylston Street, for instance, was taken over by a player in Great Britain who used the nickname “GoHasbroJoe’’ and has earned a net worth of 4.6 billion make-believe dollars.

Riso said the online game was created mainly to promote sales of a new physical board game, Monopoly City, which offers a more freewheeling style of play than traditional Monopoly.

Monopoly City Streets costs nothing to play, but it will be available only until the end of January. Riso did not rule out the possibility that Hasbro might continue to offer it if the game catches on.

Hiawatha Bray can be reached at bray@globe.com.