ByAshley Washington, writer at
I don't need anyone else. I have Uroboros!
Ashley Washington

I love a good first-person shooter as much as the next person, but sometimes you just want to sit down in front of your computer and mindlessly build, manage and maintain a successful business while making millions. Is that too much to ask? Of course not—the possibilities are virtually endless.

Tycoon games are unique in that they are part of a genre that acts as a great unifier among gamers with diverse interests on the surface but the same burning desire to be on top and in control on the inside. There's truly something out there for everyone.

These Business Management Games Are Perfect For Satisfying Your Inner CEO

'YouTubers Life' [Credit: U-Play Online]
'YouTubers Life' [Credit: U-Play Online]

With so many different business simulation games to choose from, it can be hard to cut through the noise—what you might notice when looking is that a lot of the best ones are coming from debuting or otherwise unknown indie developers. While that's actually pretty cool, it can also be a bit confusing.

Lucky for you, I've done the legwork and pulled up some of the great Tycoon games for you myself!

'Game Dev Tycoon'

[Credit: Greenheart Games]
[Credit: Greenheart Games]

Released: December 10, 2012

Developer: Greenheart Games

Available on: Windows, Mac, Linux

As a game lover and amateur game designer, I really enjoyed the opportunity to dabble in a bit of both with Game Dev Tycoon. GDT's strength is that it's a relatively straightforward business management simulator with a strong gaming focus and some adorable graphics to boot. It's also got polish, cheeky writing and pretty decent replay value which is becoming less and less common these days.

So, if you want to start a game developing palace of your own without any coding knowledge or a team of your own... try your hand at Game Dev Tycoon.

'Software Inc.'

[Credit: Coredumping]
[Credit: Coredumping]

Released: May 1, 2015

Developer: Coredumping

Available on: Windows, Mac, Linux

While you can also develop games in this one, Software Inc. is more about the bigger picture of software production. There's a bit more complexity in the way of company structure—you have to organize your teams according to stages in the production process and everything from employee vacation days to specific roles in the company is left up to you. All together it makes for a challenging but rewarding experience.

Software Inc. is still an early access game on and the updates tend to be slower because there's only one man behind it all. But after having poured around 200 hours into it myself, I'd say those updates are more than sufficient.

'Planet Coaster'

Released: November 17, 2016

Developer: Frontier Developments

Available on: Windows

Fans of the old school RollerCoaster Tycoon games who've been waiting on a much needed update will be quite pleased with Planet Coaster. It's a well-tested, frequently updated manifestation of the best of RCT's past and the park building future.

The real icing on the cake, however, lies behind the scenes. The developers behind this one were behind the very first RollerCoaster Tycoon games—so, they really know what they're doing. Trust me, it's worth it. I BootCamp-ed my Mac for this one.

The game can be bought on the Steam store.

'Rollercoaster Tycoon Classic'

[Credit: Atari, Inc.]
[Credit: Atari, Inc.]

Released: December 22, 2016

Developer: Origin8

Available on: Android, iOS

On the topic of old school park builders, we've got the very new RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic—a mobile hybrid of and RollerCoaster Tycoon 2. Unlike its free-to-play cousin, RollerCoaster Tycoon 4 Mobile, Classic has been relatively well received among fans of the series and newbies alike.

It even has a few of our favorite expansions (Wacky Worlds and Time Twister) available as in-app purchases for the game. Hopefully we'll see some more porting like this in the future!

'Youtubers Life'

[Credit: U-Play Online]
[Credit: U-Play Online]

Released: May 18, 2016

Developer: U-Play Online

Available on: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS

Youtubers Life is part-tycoon/part- and it's a great big bundle of meta fun. Everyday you get to choose between a regular job, school or some social event (depending on how old you are) that will make you enough money to sustain your career as a YouTuber.

When you get time, you'll record yourself doing whatever you're interested in, edit the video and then send it out to the YouTubing public. Views get you money, just like they do in real life... but not much—also like real life—so you'll have to make a lot of videos. You'd better get started!

This game can be purchased on Steam.

'Prison Architect'

Released: October 6, 2015

Developer: Introversion Software

Available on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Windows, Mac, Linux

For a long time, was the "king of the castle" on the prison building scene, but I'm happy to say that a long awaited successor has taken the thrown. Say hello to Prison Architect!

Don't let the cartoon-y prisoners and violence fool you. This is one tycoon game that will scratch your itch for prison economy dominance while pushing you to think long and hard about the real world prison industrial complex.

This game can be purchased on Steam.

'Restaurant Empire II'

[Credit: Paradox Interactive]
[Credit: Paradox Interactive]

Released: June 9, 2009

Developer: Enlight Software

Available on: Windows

For the aspiring chefs out there, we've got Restaurant Empire II. It's actually not terribly different from the first Restaurant Empire game but it's got a bit more polish and some extra gameplay perks that make it the better of the two games.

In this game you get to set up your menu and build your restaurant from the ground up. Throughout the game you'll monitor staff, talk to your customers and fulfill a number of standard tycoon goals (top revenue, top occupancy, etc) to become the best restauranteur in your city of choice! I always find myself coming back to this rather niche entry in the genre.

This game can be purchased on Steam or GOG.

'Railroad Tycoon II'

'Railroad Tycoon II' [Credit: Take-Two Interactive]
'Railroad Tycoon II' [Credit: Take-Two Interactive]

Released: 1998

Developer: PopTop Software

Available on: Windows, Linux, Mac, PlayStation, Dreamcast

If you can build a rollercoaster, you can build a railroad. Seriously! Both vehicles run on rails. It's essentially the same thing.

This thoughtful update to Sid Meier's original Railroad Tycoon includes a full-length story, single campaigns and even a studio recorded soundtrack (with vocals). Despite the existence of more recent releases, Railroad Tycoon 2 remains a staple entry in the series.

'Empire TV Tycoon'

Old guys love bears! [Credit: Dreamsite Games]
Old guys love bears! [Credit: Dreamsite Games]

Released: October 20, 2015

Developer: Dreamsite Games

Available on: Windows, Mac, Linux

Empire TV Tycoon is one of the funnier games in the bunch. You become the owner of a TV station that is in charge of scheduling the programming and even generating your own content for your channel.

You can get things done by hiring writers, actors and marketers to do your bidding while you head down to the basement and purchase the latest releases to screen while your productions are developing. The graphics are great and the gameplay, while straightforward, can get quite challenging as your station grows. Will you be the next HBO?

This game can be purchased on Steam.

'The Movies'

Start as early as the Silent Film Era and work your way forward! [Credit: Activision]
Start as early as the Silent Film Era and work your way forward! [Credit: Activision]

Released: November 8, 2005

Developer: Lionhead Studios

Available on: Windows, Mac

The Movies is another tycoon game that appears to be heavily influenced by The Sims in the best way possible. While you have to manage most aspects of your movie studio, your level of involvement in the making of the films is up to you. You can choose the scenes yourself or let the filming run on autopilot which makes the game more accessible for those of us who are more into the management aspect.

This game also has a pretty large modding community that has lead to the existence of a network of amateur filmmakers that use the game's scene maker to recreate famous scenes from actual movies and television shows. So, if that's your thing, you can do that too!

You can get your hands on The Movies through Amazon or the Mac App Store.

'Holy Potatoes! A Weapon Shop?!'

[Credit: Daedalic Entertainment]
[Credit: Daedalic Entertainment]

Released: July 13, 2015

Developer: Daylight Studios

Available on: Windows, Mac

In Holy Potatoes! A Weapon Shop?!, you'll manage a—you guessed it—weapon shop in what I can only assume is an alternate universe where all of the people have been replaced by potatoes. You'll use your potato minions to forge weapons for heroes ahead of their various quests in what's meant to be a cross between Game Dev Story and An Item Shop's Tale.

This tycoon game also takes it a bit further by letting you explore the surrounding world for materials and relics to enhance your business. Randomized elements like inclement weather are there to keep things interesting. But the colorful visuals and soundtrack will most likely suck you in from the start!

This game can be purchased on Steam.

'SimCity 2000'

'SimCity 2000' [Credit: Electronic Arts]
'SimCity 2000' [Credit: Electronic Arts]

Released: 1993

Developer: Maxis

Available on: Windows, Mac (and quite a few console ports)

is king when it comes to city building simulators—SimCity 2000 is widely considered the best of the best.

2000 expands on the original concept by switching the first from overhead to dimetric and adding a range of different buildings like prisons and schools. It's nearly impossible to run out of things to do between the sandbox mode and the scenarios that push you to prep your city for natural disasters.

Word on the street is that, if you're looking for a more modern city building game, SimCity 4 is totally worth it with the right tweaks and mods in place.

'Theme Hospital'

'Theme Hospital' [Credit: Electronic Arts]
'Theme Hospital' [Credit: Electronic Arts]

Released: 1997

Developer: Bullfrog Productions

Available on: Windows, Mac, PlayStation

Despite the age of this game, a viable competitor has yet to be seen on the market. Sure, there's Surgeon Simulator but it isn't nearly as cute at Theme Hospital with its smiley faces and waste-lined hallways.

Build up your hospital and make it desirable so it'll fill up with patients and get you rich! If you crave a challenge, you can compete against computer rivals that will attempt to outdo you on every level with hospitals of their own.

'Planet Coaster' [Credit: Frontier Developments]
'Planet Coaster' [Credit: Frontier Developments]

As technology improves and fiction gets a bit weirder, I anticipate the appearance of some even wackier business management games in the near future. These, however, should do for now.

Knowing what's out there, what kind of tycoon will you be?


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