Clue, Hasbro’s classic murder mystery game, is being reimagined for the social media age to celebrate the recent launch of the board game’s latest iteration.
On Tuesday night, the four-week-long Instagram event launched at a two-hour memorial experience for the game’s famous victim and villain, Boddy Black. Hosted by Crime Junkie podcaster Ashley Flowers, the experience brought attendees into Black’s home where they could investigate various materials and interrogate featured Clue actors on their way to solving the mystery behind his death.
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“As someone who’s been captivated by intricate plots, unexpected twists and thrilling investigations, I’m thrilled to bring that same excitement to this launch party,” Flowers tells The Hollywood Reporter. “My goal [was] to create an immersive experience that leaves attendees feeling like they’ve just solved a real-life crime.”
A combination of experiential, digital and physical elements, the realization of the traditional board game experience allowed players to truly become part of Clue’s beloved narrative. “This launch event brings Clue to life in a way that not only honors its classic roots but also demonstrates the game’s ability to evolve and adapt to the modern age,” Flowers adds. “It’s a testament to the enduring popularity of Clue and its ability to capture the imaginations of players of all ages.”
The evening, which saw Hasbro partner with The Martin Agency to develop the Instagram experience, trailer and campaign with Sauvage behind the animation and motion capture, brought Clue’s famous storylines, characters and backgrounds to life while serving as a prequel to the immersive Instagram game. It also featured the launch of the game’s cinematic trailer, which The Hollywood Reporter can reveal exclusively below.
As for the Instagram game, a more inclusive group of Mr. Boddy’s guests in the board game’s latest chapter — Miss Scarlett, Colonel Mustard, Major Green, Chef White, Solicitor Peacock and Professor Plum — have been re-invented as metahumans through Unreal Engine and motion capture technology. Officially kicking off on March 2, the game will unfold daily, with new evidence, suspect testimonies, witness statements and first-person accounts revealed to players around the globe.
As part of the online game, Hasbro also partnered with British automotive manufacturer McLaren and fashion designer Halston, as well as Amazon’s home security and smart home company Ring. Those collaborations will allow for the integration of real-life brands into the game, grounding the game’s timeless characters in the real-world experience.
Each week, Flowers will also deliver recaps of the case, where she’ll dissect new findings and share predictions on the murderer on her own Instagram for fans and players.
“By expanding storytelling across multiple digital and physical formats, we’re breaking new ground for the original murder mystery game,” said Adam Biehl, senior vp and general manager, Hasbro Gaming, in a statement. “We’re thrilled to provide fans across the globe the opportunity to, for the first-time ever, see their favorite CLUE characters jump from the recently refreshed game board and into the real world of social media for a captivating crime-solving experience unlike anything seen before.”
In seven decades, Clue has sold more than 150 million boards, becoming one of the most popular board games in the world. It has been updated over a dozen times in that 75-year history and reimagined countless times through various extensions and licenses. Its latest iteration launched in January 2023 with new spins on the classic mystery storylines, a diverse cast, highly stylized game pieces and a new location — the Tudor Mansion.
The new box set is designed to resemble Boddy Black’s desk, covered with blackmail evidence he’s acquired that gives players the opportunity to discover more intel. The new board expands to a 20-by-20-inch gameplay canvas and the generic-colored pawns and simplistic murder weapon pieces have been replaced by sculpted character movers made of metal with golden finish and richly textured weapons.
Ahead of Tuesday night’s event, The Hollywood Reporter spoke to Julien McCluney, vp global brands, Hasbro, about welcoming a new era of Clue, why the latest reimagining went more inclusive, and what makes one of the world’s most recognizable games so timeless and adaptable to just about any medium.
What inspired this character rebrand of the classic game and are there any other game elements outside of the characters’ looks that you considered updating for this latest Clue imagining?
For years, Clue has excited fans across the globe, from all walks of life, through countless game night interrogations, cult classic entertainment and fandom moments. With the recent, accelerated rise in mystery and true crime content in the media and in general pop culture, we felt that now is the perfect time to reintroduce this classic board game that has inspired so many modern retellings of the classic whodunit.
A big inspiration for the Clue refresh is to more accurately reflect the diversity of its players. We saw the importance of reimagining these iconic characters and hope that with this next chapter of Clue, players can see themselves in the characters better and be engulfed deeper in the sophisticated fictional murder mystery and crime-solving experience.
How did you think about your new character designs? And how might the game’s original iterations have informed their new ones?
A lot of thought went into each character design to reflect more meaningful backstories and motives. A character like Colonel Mustard stays very close to his original counterpart, but other new characters like Solicitor Peacock take an evolved inspiration from her “socialite” status in the original iterations. Slight nods like these in the new characters keep fans grounded in nostalgia, while still being able to see new characters that are better reflective of the present day.
Just as our tagline says, “One is guilty, none are innocent.” We made sure to balance their motives so that not one of them could be perceived as a hero and that all of them had equally valid reasons to commit the crime. We wanted the characters to be fleshed out and as realistic as possible while maintaining the general rule that all of them are privileged in some way — through wealth, status, position or influence.
Clue is one of those games that feels really timeless. So why is the company interested, from both a consumer and gaming design perspective, in rebrands like this? And how might it ultimately support the game’s timelessness?
Absolutely! Clue has definitely remained a timeless crime-solving experience and continues to be one of the most popular board games in the world. However, we are always looking for new ways to elevate brands that resonate with so many, giving fans familiar yet new experiences, storylines, characters and settings. Just last year, we introduced the Clue Escape Game Series, which creatively brings escape room-style play into the familiar realm of classic board games. Each box contains a cinematic story with an exciting mystery to solve as well as a game system that accommodates a wide range of skill levels so no one is left out of the fun. This refresh allows for multigenerational appeal, giving older fans who grew up with Clue the opportunity to revisit memorable childhood moments, while new players get to experience something fresh.
Clue has existed in multiple mediums beyond its classic board game for years — PC and console games, a film and miniseries, a musical, books and an upcoming animated series. Why did Instagram feel like the next platform/medium for the game to expand into?
Social media, and Instagram specifically, is a new direction for Clue. We saw that there was an opportunity to transport the classic story and characters to the present day, and ground them in reality. If Miss Scarlett or any of our other characters were real in 2023, they’d undoubtedly have a social presence! And being a visual-heavy platform, Instagram became the perfect fit to allow fans across the globe to don their detective hats, decipher evidence and solve the case.
Can you talk about how the team approached adapting Clue for an Instagram interactive global event? Fans likely love the idea of Clue feeling more tangible and interactive, but there were likely a number of things that had to be considered in terms of making it playable in this way.
This is the world’s first game of Clue on Instagram, so it was no easy feat creating the story and planning out how the monthlong mystery would unfold. It has to have a level of difficulty due to the duration and accessibility to everyone in real-time, while still being easily digestible to casual fans that might jump in during the later weeks. At the core, fans are simply trying to solve the murder of Boddy Black, but they will soon discover a rich backstory teeming with twists and turns. We wanted to take the “Who, Where, What” scenario the board game is known for and enlarge it on quite possibly the largest scale possible.
What were the biggest challenges for you in taking Clue to a social media platform for a four-week-long immersive digital experience versus that 90 or so-minute experience that the board game and even video or PC games offer?
The biggest challenge is that this game of Clue on Instagram is open to everyone, at the same time. It’s quite literally the largest game of Clue, with the world trying to solve one murder mystery. The board game allows for gameplay variation, with each game played offering a new outcome. This socially powered game is going to culminate in one, exciting solution.
Interview edited for length and clarity.
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