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‘CATAN - New Energies’ Adds Sustainability Twist to Classic Strategy Game

The update to one of the best-selling board games of all time presents players with a pertinent dilemma: spend resources to invest in clean, sustainable energy sources or opt for cheaper, yet polluting, fossil fuels.

CATAN Studio’s forthcoming CATAN – New Energies ushers players into a reality more reflective of our modern world with a compelling blend of strategy, sustainability and societal progress. This latest update to the beloved game challenges players to navigate a pivotal crossroads in the island of Catan's history, set in the modern day.

Gone are the days of the island's pre-industrial past: This latest version of Catan demands energy to fuel its growth. CATAN – New Energies seamlessly merges the beloved gameplay of classic CATAN with a contemporary twist, presenting players with a pertinent dilemma: spend resources to invest in clean, sustainable energy sources or opt for cheaper, yet environmentally damaging, fossil fuels. And along the way, the specter of pollution looms large — threatening to disrupt resource production and causing disasters.

Since its release in 1995 as The Settlers of CATAN, over 40 million games have been sold worldwide and it is available in over 40 languages — making CATAN one of the best-selling board games of all time, and a powerful vehicle for themes and challenges reflective of some of the most pressing global issues we have ever faced.

"Gaming has an incredible power to reflect real-world challenges and inspire thoughtful conversations," says Benjamin Teuber, managing director at CATAN GmbH and co-designer of the game. He and his father, Klaus Teuber, completed the gameplay design of New Energies before the famed founder died earlier this year.

"As we designed this game, my dad said, 'A game is an experience — not a lecture.' Therefore, we are not telling players how to act best; we're inviting them to learn and draw their own conclusions through play," he said.

In New Energies, fossil-fuel power plants allow players to develop faster — and, in workshops of the new game, Teuber told NPR that often led them to over-pollute. But that pollution would create catastrophes that affect all players, not just the polluting player.

Image credit: CATAN Studio

“[But then] we had heavy discussions afterwards,” Teuber said. “We all felt kind of bad, and we learned a thing or two. And the next game, we played differently. And that is, for me, very nice to hear that this has an effect.”

As players shift them to renewable plants throughout the course of the game, rewards replace pollution and its related catastrophes — incentivizing environmental consciousness.

As with all CATAN games, there are multiple paths to victory — and true to real life, the "greenest" player will not always win. Yet, the eventual transition to clean energy is crucial. Rising pollution levels demand collective mitigation. If left unchecked, high pollution levels trigger an early end of the game, in which case, the champion of sustainability emerges victorious.

Along with the more conscientious themes of gameplay, CATAN – New Energies has been thoughtfully developed and produced to lower its impact. The English edition will be printed and assembled in the US using sustainable wood and paper sources and no plastic components.

Combining engaging gameplay mechanics with a powerful sustainability narrative, CATAN – New Energies demonstrates the game company’s commitment to fostering meaningful experiences that inspire important conversations. It's poised not only to engage seasoned CATAN enthusiasts and newcomers but also to resonate with a global community dedicated to shaping a sustainable future.

CATAN – New Energies arrives in stores this summer.