When it launched way, way back in the hazy past of 2009, Catan (and its later iPad HD counterpart) set gold standard for iOS board gaming. Times were simpler then, and the only thing we asked of our digital board games was that they function reliably and not overtax our steam-powered iPhones. Despite its age, the mobile adaptation of Settlers of Catan is a still regular in the top 100 apps in many countries.
Now in the Jetsons future of 2013 we want things like online multiplayer, something that Catan’s developers USM didn’t originally include — but to keep pace with Johnny-Come-Latelys like Stone Age and Battle of the Bulge, it’s a necessity.
USM tells me that online multiplayer for Catan is now in late beta and nearing release. This will not be Game Center multiplayer, as the German devs are cooking up their own solution to allow for cross-platform play with Catan for Android. This might well be USM’s most ambitious development yet.
Given how much Catan focuses on wheeling and dealing, it doesn’t strike me as the ideal online game — but I’m willing to be surprised.