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The Future of PlayCatan

May 07, 2015

Since more than 12 years, PlayCatan is the online platform for Catan fans. In the fast moving online gaming market, this is a very long time, and we are proud of our achievement. Today we want to inform you in the news section of this site regarding the future of our online platform.

The platform was launched in December 2002, at the time still hosted by T-Online and limited to the German market. In 2004, we took charge of the platform, internationalized it, and added various games such as Domaine, Elasund, Rivals for Catan, and the Explorers & Pirates expansion. At the beginning of 2014, we completely reworked the website and converted the entire client to HTML5, so that PlayCatan can now be run in the web browser.

Throughout this period, PlayCatan was managed by a small but dedicated team. In recent years, however, it became more and more difficult for us to meet the requirements of the market. Catan GmbH is a very small company, although many people may not be aware of it. We essentially develop game concepts which then are implemented by partners. The best examples of this are Kosmos or Mayfair Games, which produce and market our board game concepts. Without our programming partners at Brettspielwelt and many voluntary moderators and playtesters, PlayCatan would never have been possible. Time and again, however, the question arose whether operating PlayCatan in this way still made sense or whether it was time for a change.

Many serious challenges still lie ahead of us, because the market for electronic games, particularly the online gaming market, is constantly in motion. Regrettably, we still do not provide sufficient support for tablets and smartphones, and the games already existing on PlayCatan urgently need to be adapted to today's standards. Over the years, for us as the operators of PlayCatan it has become more and more difficult to cope with these challenges. Therefore, we gradually came to the conclusion that we needed an experienced partner to operate a Catan online platform.

For some years now, our partner United Soft Media (USM) - a subsidiary company of the Kosmos Verlag - very successfully markets Catan for mobile platforms. Therefore, in USM we now have a reliable partner with a lot of experience regarding Catan, who in the case of mobile apps has already demonstrated that he is perfectly capable of adapting Catan to digital devices. After long negotiations, we now have decided to further expand our already successful collaboration and assign also the online area to USM as well. In association with Exozet Games, a development studio that also has much experience regarding Catan, USM will develop an entirely new online platform for Catan games, with the working title 'Catan Universe.' Developing the platform with optimized clients for different operation systems allows USM to use the latest technology and to rework the concepts and games. Unfortunately, this means that PlayCatan cannot be continued as such; on the other hand, however, Catan Universe offers an opportunity to redesign the aged platform. The focus will, of course, be on the Catan games. The new platform will feature the most popular expansions such as Seafarers and Cities & Knights as well as many scenarios and variants such as MultiCatan, and the Rivals for Catan will also be included. Besides, with Catan Universe our great wish of having Catan fans play together on different platforms - regardless of whether they run on mobile devices or on desktop PCs - comes within reach. Having substantial community features in addition to the games as such is particularly important to us. For example, the players will be able to customize their avatar, form guilds and, of course, organize tournaments. For all this, a new, fair payment model no longer based on monthly subscriptions will be implemented. We also want to continue offering an option that is partially free of charge, thus allowing the users to get to know the new platform.

A first beta version of Catan Universe will be available later this year; the official launch of an early-access version is expected in mid-December. At the moment, we can't provide more details about the new platform - we hope you'll understand. However, we promise that further information will follow soon. There will be more announcements regarding this topic during the next few weeks, and we'll give you a detailed introduction to the new platform.

PlayCatan in its current form will continue until the end of the year. Informing you about this change early on was important to us, and we'd be happy if you stayed with us for the next 6 months. All monthly subscriptions and subscription packages are valid until the platform closes, and Klaus Teuber's Web Games can also be played until that date.

At this point, we would like to thank you for your lasting loyalty and enthusiasm for PlayCatan. We hope that you will take this news as a positive new beginning. The PlayCatan era may come to an end, but something new and better will come out of it. We'll always do our best to make sure that besides the classic Catan tabletop board game, Catan is available as an online game. We and USM are convinced that the new online platform will be the best solution for the Catan fans.

More news coming soon! In the meantime, have fun on PlayCatan.

Update: We have published a first list with informations about Catan Universe in the FAQ section of PlayCatan.