Microsoft licenses Catan for MSN Zone, Messenger

Today’s other big news is that Microsoft has picked up the license to every Catan game there is, I think (naturally including The Settlers of Catan, far and away the most successful German game in the US), for inclusion in their online gaming stable. Because it’ll be part of the Premium service, it won’t have a spot in the Start menu under Games in the next release of Windows, which would be about like having a five-level store in Times Square, but still, this is huge. This means that the hordes and hordes of casual online gamers (you know, women in their thirties, non-gaming businesspeople… the ones the industry ignores while they try and figure out how to clone EQ again) will get sucked into the magic… unless of course they look at it, scratch their heads, wonder to themselves why anyone would play a complex game they don’t already know, and wander back over to Bejeweled. Whichever way it goes, we’ll find out this summer. Mayfair has issued a press release, which we have included below with typos corrected, ho ho.

Below is press release text from Settlers’ US publisher Mayfair Games.

Mayfair Games Inc. Press Release
February 17th, 2004

Mayfair Games is proud to present the following Press Release-
Catan GmbH is proud to announce that it has executed a very special license agreement with the Microsoft Corporation for the creation of the “Catan Online Game,” which Microsoft will publish in the Summer of 2004. Now the world of Catan will be only a mouse-click away! This rich, multi-player game will embody all of the beauty and elegant, interactive features of “The Settlers of Catan” – Klaus Teuber’s award-winning board game – which is published in English by Mayfair Games of Skokie, Illinois.

Available on Microsoft’s Premium Game Service, the Catan Online Game will be accessible via both the MSN Zone and MSN Messenger. There will be multi-player online and download variants, each with rich graphics and a sophisticated AI. You’ll be able to play solo or with up to three online friends knowing that the game can always provide a challenging opponent or replacement player… real or virtual.

Besides using Mayfair Games’ familiar Catan graphics, Microsoft will be working with Mayfair, Kosmos Verlag, Capcom, and the other Catan publishers to develop a vibrant worldwide cross-marketing program. You’ll have ready access to simple tips and tutorials, as well as links to Mayfair Games, The University of Catan, Professor Easy, and other popular Catan-related sites.

Soon, this best-selling game will be only a link away for everyone using the Internet, making it easy to explore what is one of the most popular board games ever!

Will Niebling
Mayfair Games, Inc.