A New Frontier for The Settlers of Catan

Official Press Release

A New Frontier for The Settlers of Catan

Continuing to build its digital game empire, Vectorform re-imagines The Settlers of Catan for Microsoft Surface.

Seattle, WA and Detroit, MI, August 2, 2010—The Settlers of Catan is a classic multiplayer board game, combining economics, strategy and chance, as colonists compete to build settlements from raw commodities. Created in Germany in 1995, and now available in 30 languages, The Settlers of Catan has achieved icon status. Over 15 million copies have been sold worldwide, and an estimated 20 million people play regularly, through a diverse set of traditional and digital game forms.

In partnership with Microsoft, Catan LLC, and Mayfair Games, Vectorform has recreated The Settlers of Catan for Microsoft Surface. Microsoft Surface is an innovative computing platform that responds to touch, natural hand gestures and real-world objects placed on the display. With a large, 360-degree, horizontal user interface, Microsoft Surface offers a unique gathering place where multiple users can come together to interact with content and each other–making it an ideal platform for games like The Settlers of Catan.

Working to maintain an authentic, interpersonal experience of board game play, Vectorform leveraged the social nature of Microsoft Surface. This functionality, defined by Microsoft as “together computing,” provides a distinct advantage and authenticity over games played on traditional PCs or personal devices. “Where a computer game is a solo computing affair, board games are connected experiences. Together computing has its place now, and will be more prominent in the future.” Vectorform Game Studio Executive Director Joe Engalan says.

Vectorform used the artistry of Mayfair Games’ analog version of The Settlers of Catan to illustrate the game elements, including resources, land, and evolving civilization. The digital board is complimented with real-world elements, including an acrylic die set which is seen and recognized by Surface’s built-in cameras. Additionally, an x-ray visor, fabricated specifically for the game, reveals a player’s cards to the player, while shielding the cards from competing colonists. “I’ve never seen real die used in a digital game,” Mollie Harms, Game Producer for Vectorform Game Studios, says. “I think the visors could revolutionize digital card playing. This is a new way to maintain secrecy that doesn’t hinder game play.” The visors, the dice, and the game-play experience on Surface were wildly popular with fans of The Settlers of Catan, who were involved in the design and development process, loaning time and feedback to informal focus groups.

The Settlers of Catan was first shown on Surface at Origins Game Fair in Columbus, Ohio, in July of 2010. The extensive media coverage generated over 15,000 views of a promotional video for the game, within 72 hours of publishing it to YouTube. Vectorform will also show the game at Gen Con Indy, taking place August 5 through August 8, 2010, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Additionally, on September 3 through September 5, 2010, Vectorform will demonstrate Settlers of Catan at PAXWest, the Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle, Washington.

A new promotional video for The Settlers of Catan can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Gi-eIvXJsY while an extended video can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sdUFT01vzyI

Vectorform will continue to promote Settlers of Catan at conferences and private events through the summer, and is offering customized, branded versions of the game to a network of clients and partners for use on Microsoft Surface. In the future, Settlers of Catan will be available for purchase through Vectorform’s App Store. Additionally, the Vectorform App Store will sell other titles, including titles for iPhone, iPad, and other platforms. “The future for The Settlers of Catan is very bright, and we are going to push that experience to new markets and communities. But we’ve got quite a few more titles in the queue, and they are all very exciting. Keep watching, because this is just the start of the empire,” Joe Engalan says.


Vectorform is a digital experience studio with over 100 employees in five global locations: New York, Detroit, Seattle, Hyderabad and Munich. Vectorform strives to create iconic experiences that generate results by captivating users. These natural user interfaces, and other experiences, can be seen on: the web, desktop, mobile devices, game consoles, next generation devices, and in-vehicle. Featured work can also be seen at Vectorform.com