Catan conquers the world. How a board game becomes a benchmark for the digital transformation.
Together with the publisher United Soft Media (USM), we have been developing the digital adaptations of the classic board game “The Settlers of Catan” with great success for many years. Nowadays, the worldwide fan community is able to play the game on almost every available device. Our game expert Moritz Hampel has been a part of this development from the very beginning.
As a child of the seventies, I grew up, like so many others, with Ravensburger games. They were almost always for three to six players, packaged in a rectangular box with the iconic blue triangle in the corner, and were often awarded the coveted “Game of the Year” seal. Hare and Tortoise, Scotland Yard, Enchanted Forest, Top Secret Spies – all of those were games we had on our shelves.
I would almost say that all “Games of the Year” until the mid-nineties were from Ravensburger. But even if the dominance of the Ravensburger game was only my childhood impression, the entire German board game world was still turned upside down and entered a completely new era in 1995: “The Settlers of Catan” was awarded the most famous German game prize. The game allowed both its inventor Klaus Teuber and the publisher Kosmos-Spiele to become household names.
“The Settlers of Catan”. A revolution in the German games market.
Sure, Catan is also a board game, but it’s completely different: In this simulation game, players immerse themselves in their own world. They build settlements on the fictitious island, swap resources with the other players, expand their empire, and defend it with their own knights. Each time a new fantasy world is created and the players are able to try out new tactics. That was new and addictive.
No wonder that in the following years the game eventually developed a cult status. ‘Real’ Catan players often met several times a week. After ten years, eight million copies of the game had already been sold to German households and every second German was familiar with Catan. To date, Catan has been translated into over 30 languages and has sold well over 20 million copies.
“Catan – The First Island”. Setting off for new dimensions.
Catan was quite the success story, then. But it wasn’t enough for the makers of Catan to turn the analog board game and its universe upside down. The first digital version of the game came onto the market in 1999 and enabled users to play “Catan – The First Island” on Windows PC. A year later the Playstation version was released, but it would take almost a decade until Catan reached an entirely new dimension: The world of mobile devices.
Successful for over 20 years: The Catan digital universe is growing steadily.
In 2008, we developed “Catan – The First Island” for Java-enabled mobile phones, thus laying the foundation for further transformation of the classic board game – away from a board game that can only be played in a fixed location to a product to play on the go. With the mobile version of Catan, fans worldwide could now play their game anywhere, anytime. The success story continued.
About 2 million fans.
And the number is growing.
Find out here how and why our customer USM landed a real coup with Catan Universe:To the project
The Munich-based licensee United Soft Media commissioned us again and again with new Catan projects: The first expansion called “Seafarers”, further technical platforms and versions for the Nintendo DS, iPhone, and iPod Touch. In between projects, there were also small side projects, which then brought versions of Catan to exotic platforms such as Blackberry or the Kindle. Generally, if you wanted something to be mobile, then it was a clear case for Exozet.
“Catan Universe”. The latest coup is ‘seamless’.
A Legend, which has been able to stay on the market for years and is still playable today, is “Catan Classic” for Android and iOS. However, a common issue, which can be applied to most digital board games to this day, is that users were not able to play across platforms. Thus Android owners could not compete against PC players or users of the iOS version. This created many small Catan islands that corresponded to the theme of the game, but were not very user-friendly.
All this changed in 2017: With Catan Universe, we developed a digital version of the game that for the first time allows users not only to play on all other platforms with a single account, but also to use purchased content, such as the extensions “Seafarers” or “Cities & Knights”, on all devices. The fan community celebrates – as does our client. Once again, Catan is setting new standards in the games market.
Even BoardGameGeek is excited about “Catan Universe”.
- Moritz Hampel
- Concept & Game Design
- +49 30 246 560 0
- +49 171 490 54 38
- E-mail Moritz