Trivial Pursuit sells for a non-trivial sum: $80 million US

Montreal's great gift to board game fans, Trivial Pursuit, has been sold to U.S. toymaker Hasbro Inc.

Game invented in Montreal enriches its creators and backers

Montreal's great gift to board game fans, Trivial Pursuit, has been sold to U.S. toymaker Hasbro Inc., and not for a trivial sum.

Hasbro has long made and sold Trivial Pursuit under licence from companies set up in the 1980s by the game's Montreal inventors, Chris Haney and Scott Abbott, along with Haney's brother John and a lawyer friend, Ed Werner.

They had already made fortunes on it, and now they're even richer.

On Monday, Hasbro announced it has bought the intellectual rights to the game for $80 million US.

The sellers are the companies set up by the inventors: Horn Abbot Ltd. of Toronto and its offshore counterpart, Horn Abbot International of Barbados.

Both still belong to "the original owners, the founders and creators of Trivial Pursuit, and the original investors," Jim Ware, president of Horn Abbot Ltd., told CBC News. "Nothing's changed for 20, 25 years."

The story of Trivial Pursuit's creation has often been told:

  • Haney, a Montreal Gazette photo editor, and Abbott, a Canadian Press sports editor, come up with the idea for the game at the end of the 1970s and raise money for manufacturing by offering shares to friends and colleagues. Many, to their later regret, turn them down.
  • The game is introduced in Canada in 1981 and makes its U.S. debut at a New York toy fair in 1982, but goes nowhere. The inventors persevere.
  • In 1983, they get a U.S. production and distribution deal. In 1984 alone, more than 15 million games are sold.

"Trivial Pursuit created the adult game category in 1982 and has always been one of the most recognized brands in the industry," Hasbro's chief operating officer, Brian Goldner, said in a statement.

"Now, as a wholly-owned and operated part of our deep and rich brand portfolio, we can build Trivial Pursuit beyond traditional venues and capitalize on new opportunities in entertainment, publishing, promotions and digital arenas."