21 June 2019
‘Hello, is that the Banker?’
After trying to prove it’s still down with the kids with cool new player pieces (although thankfully not an emoji or hashtag), a Fortnite spin-off and a ‘look, we’re so self-aware’ Cheaters Edition, Monopoly is going one step further in its efforts to keep up with today’s trends with a new voice-activated virtual assistant.
Yes, Monopoly is getting its own answer to Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri in Monopoly Voice Banking, which is due to land on shelves next month.
Voice Banking features an Alexa-like speaker in the shape of a top hat that sits in the middle of its board and is activated by pressing the button on the top that corresponds to the current player. The player can then bark basic orders to tell the AI to buy properties, pay rent, draw Chance and Community Chest cards, pass Go, and more
The speaker will respond with the voice of Monopoly mascot Rich Uncle Pennybags (also known as Mr. Monopoly). With no physical cash in the game, Pennybags also keeps track of players’ bank balances – so no more stealing from the bank, unless you’re a tech-savvy hacker. Matching the futuristic showpiece are Matrix-green player pieces, including the latest addition of a T-Rex.
Unlike Alexa or Siri, the smart speaker doesn’t need Wi-Fi to work, and is said to make the notoriously long Monopoly that bit faster to play – presumably not counting the number of times you have to repeatedly tell the assistant to do something before it actually does it, if our experiences with other voice-activated AI is anything to go by.
Monopoly isn’t the first game to use a smart speaker – travel trivia game When In Rome used Alexa itself as a quizmaster, with players moving pieces around a physical board before asking the AI for questions from around the world. Monopoly itself has experienced with tech in the past, from versions of the game that tracked players’ money through credit cards and electronic banking systems to the definitely-not-irritating Game of Thrones edition that blasted the TV show’s theme tune from an Iron Throne-shaped speaker.
Monopoly Voice Banking is out in the US on July 1st, where it’ll cost $30 (£24). A UK release date and price are yet to be announced, but you can import the US version in the meantime if you’re desperate to see how (or if) it works.