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Zoo Tycoon board game turns the PC classic into cardboard

Conservation versus capitalism.
Production image of Zoo Tycoon.
Image: Treecer/Microsoft

Zoo Tycoon, the beloved video game series about managing a park full of wild animals, will get an officially licensed board game adaptation that puts the balance between entertainment and conservation at the core of the experience.

Swiss tabletop publisher Treecer recently announced that it had secured the rights to adapt the long running Zoo Tycoon PC series into a weighty board game, courtesy of Microsoft. The project has reportedly been in the works for three years and will launch a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter starting October 25th.

Zoo Tycoon: The Board Game will let two to four players each manage their own zoo, building habitats, food stalls, gift shops and other amenities that will attract guests but also care for the creatures within their care. Treecer’s Marc Dür said in an email that balancing popular animals such as lions, elephants and pandas against the conservational and educational goal of zoos is something the team strove to embody.

Zoo Tycoon is filled with all sorts of natural wonders, but dinosaurs are not on that list. That's more the purview of Jurassic Park: Legacy of Isla Nublar, which the team discuss in this video.

Like its two decades-old predecessor, the board game will require players to think carefully about the habitat and needs of individual species as they plan their parks - each of the 34 included animal types come with space requirements, group composition and other unique demands. Twenty two of those animal types will be represented by 230 wooden meeples that come in every copy of the game.

That sounds like a lot of pieces once you count boards, cards and other components. Treecer has stayed mindful of that and apparently is working to reduce the amount of plastic needed to a bare minimum while also remaining carbon neutral and Forest Stewardship Council certified. The studio has a history of keeping sustainability as a key pillar of production - past titles such as P’achakuna and Darwin’s Choice followed this philosophy.

Zoo Tycoon: The Board Game has been designed as a heavier Eurogame-style experience, and sessions are reported to last two hours at a minimum. The amateur zookeepers will need to keep several factors in mind as play progresses through a seasonally-themed turn order. Random events could throw a wrench into you best laid plans or open up a new possibility, and an ever-changing market means everyone is subject to the whims of supply and demand.

Production image of Zoo Tycoon.

Money will be a constant factor, whether that comes from guests, loans or partnerships with conservation groups and national parks looking to save endangered species. Animal happiness will increase the chances a species might reproduce, which is both a big promotional event and a win for the scientific community hoping to pull animals back from the brink of extinction.

Treecer is boasting a lot of replayability thanks to the sheer amount of choice available within the game’s mechanical interactions. The components shown in preview images fit with the vibrant and bright colour palette of the video game series and its prominent showcasing of happy, healthy animals - which does not always reflect the truth of zoos and their treatment of animals kept as attractions.

Zoo Tycoon: The Board Game’s Kickstarter campaign goes live on October 25th. There’s no word yet on how much a box will cost or what Treecer’s expected shipping dates are. Dicebreaker has reached out for more information.

Production image of Zoo Tycoon: The Board Game's animal meeples.
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Chase Carter

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Chase is a freelance journalist and media critic. He enjoys the company of his two cats and always wants to hear more about that thing you love. Follow him on Twitter for photos of said cats and retweeted opinions from smarter folks.

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