Note: This list was updated in July of 2019.
Business doesn’t always have to be serious. Business can be fun. Also, business usually has a tight set of rules and revolves around resource allocation. So in a way, business in the real world already is a sort of game. But if you want to play that game, it’s actually much easier to just turn on your PC and play one of the many great business tycoon simulations out there.
There is a special flavor for everyone. Historical business simulation? Done. Present day urban planning? Got it. Science fiction space station businesses? Yeah why not.
This is a very PC eccentric genre, there are few ports on consoles that are above anything but “passable”. Interestingly enough though, it seems mobile touch devices see the most innovative new entries here, leading to a small renaissance of a genre that was in a steady decline into obscurity for years now.
- Developer: Coffee Stain
- Publisher: Coffee Stain
- Platforms: PC
- Release: Early Access March 2019
Currently available through early access at the time of writing this, Satisfactory is a unique look at factory building tycoon. Players are dropped into an alien planet and with just a few tools. Your job is simple, go around the planet, craft resources and construct a complex factory for your employer. As you gather more resources, you’ll be able to upgrade and build up your factory, but you’ll have to deal with the hostile aliens that inhabit the world. The game has already become a hit and it’s yet to fully launch.
Despite being in early access, there are updates going into the game with the latest tossing in new locomotive transportation units to even the addition of nuclear power sources. Outside of content, the developers have also been working on the actual environment locations as well such as tweaking the biomes to make it fleshed out in comparison to the other parts of the in-game world. Once this game does come out of early access, the developers plan to feature even more machines, resources, landmarks, creatures, mod support, and even a full narrative. So if you’re feeling that the game is lacking at the moment in any particular area, it should be rather full upon its release. Since this game is not fully out yet, we won’t rank it officially on this list, but instead make it an honorable mention.
#15 Zoo Tycoon Series
- Developer: Blue Fang Games, Frontier Developments, Behaviour Interactive
- Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
- Platforms: PC, X360, XBO
- Release: 2001-2017
- Zoo Tycoon
- Zoo Tycoon 2
- Zoo Tycoon (2013)
- Zoo Tycoon: Ultimate Animal Collection
The Zoo Tycoon series has a number of installments available across a variety of platforms. Initially, the game came into fruition in 2001 by development studio Blue Fang Games. Players are given the lead position when it comes to a functioning zoo. This means that players are constructing the design of the zoo, what animals are on display, businesses available within the zoo location along with other entertainment for its guests.
Throughout the game players are juggling maintenance of the zoo along with turning a profit which may mean listening to guests interests at the zoo and their dislikes. Over the years, the game series has exchanged different development studios but the games continued to follow the same overall groundwork that Blue Fang Games laid with the first installment.
As it stands right now, Frontier Developments released the last main installment to the series, with Zoo Tycoon, a reboot of the original video game title. This title released in 2013 for the Xbox One and Xbox 360 platforms and while both held the same overall mechanics that fans of the series is familiar with, there was a campaign mode that offered players a variety of challenges.
With that said if you’re looking to enjoy the classic main Zoo Tycoon titles and their various expansion packs then you’ll want to look at Zoo Tycoon: Ultimate Animal Collection which launched in 2017 for the Xbox One and PC platforms. This collection included the first two Zoo Tycoon games along with their expansion packs while also including a few new animals and HDR 4K resolution.
#14 Jurassic World Evolution
- Developer: Frontier Developments
- Publisher: Frontier Developments
- Platforms: PC, PS4, XBO
- Release: June 12, 2018
If you enjoy building up parks and attractions while managing the business side of things then you’ll want to check out Jurassic World Evolution. The video game was also developed by Frontier Developments who had worked on other beloved tycoon franchises such as RollerCoaster Tycoon and Zoo Tycoon.
With this release, players are put in control of building their own Jurassic Park where you’ll manage the design while managing the business when it comes to bringing guests back to the Jurassic age.
Likewise, there will be a section based around developing new creatures, similar to the story of Jurassic World. Unfortunately, if you enjoy the more in-depth city building and managing titles put out into the market then you might find this game to be a bit disappointing but on the flip side, if you find some of the more popular city builder and simulation games to be too overwhelming then we suggest giving this game a try.
#13 Tropico 6
- Developer: Limbic Entertainment
- Publisher: Kalypso Media
- Platforms: PC, PS4, XBO
- Release: March 29, 2019
Tropico received a new installment in 2019 and if you played past installments then you’ll be rather familiar with Tropico 6. This is a series where players take on the role of a leader, known as El Presidente, who is in control of a Caribbean island. Being the leader you’ll have control over a variety of aspects that range from political situations, laws, and overall management to the island itself. Now as done previously, gamers will be taking control of the island over a course of four eras, but depending on how you handle various situations will determine if your island flourishes or if you’ll end up dealing with a revolt.
#12 Surviving Mars
- Developer: Haemimont Games
- Publisher: Paradox Interactive
- Platforms: PC, PS4, XBO
- Release: March 15, 2018
Within Surviving Mars players will be on the cold red planet where their sole goal is to manage and oversee the colonization of the new world. Of course, there will be some challenges that will come up giving players some tough obstacles to pass through.
This is a city-builder type game as well where players will have to build up their colony and gather resources to maintain their colonization. As a result, the game will have a bit of a strategy element to the gameplay.
#11 RollerCoaster Tycoon Series
- Developer: Chris Sawyer Productions, Frontier Developments, n-Space, On5, Nvizzio Creations
- Publisher: Hasbro Interactive, Infogames, Atari
- Platforms: PC, Xbox, iOS
- Release: 1999 – 2016
- RollerCoaster Tycoon
- RollerCoaster Tycoon 2
- RollerCoaster Tycoon 3
- RollerCoaster Tycoon World
The RollerCoaster Tycoon series plays out much like Zoo Tycoon. Players are in control of a theme park where they must design the layout, hire employees, bring in businesses and maintain the various rides. Essentially, instead of animals like Zoo Tycoon, you’re swapping them out for amusement park rides while still maintaining the behind-the-scenes ventures that goes into managing a business and keeping operations running smoothly.
RollerCoaster Tycoon also was an IP that exchanged hands across a few different development studios where it originated by Christ Sawyer Productions back in 1999 but even with the games being tossed around different development studios, the overall goal and mechanics are intact. For instance, the latest main video game release, RollerCoaster Tycoon World launched in 2016 where again players are building up rides, shops and managing the par while tweaking the visuals for the latest PC platform components.
This franchise is not slowing down as Atari made note of other installments that is currently in the works such as RollerCoaster Tycoon for the Nintendo Switch.