Tycoon games encompass the idea of building either a business or a settlement and managing it to success. With a ton of these games now currently out (either in Alpha or in full), it seems right to make a recommendations list of what to play in 2018. This list will include games from previous years as well – this is purely to recommend the absolute best tycoon games still worth playing in 2018!
Despite being in early access, Software Inc. is a very well-polished software business simulation game. You start off with a small software company of just yourself, and grow it to be a billion dollar company. Throughout this process you get to manage staff, build your headquarters, seek out contracts, create distribution servers, and develop all types of software!
I found this game to be one of the absolute best examples of what a tycoon or business simulation game should look like. It really gives you the feeling of building a company from the ground up and reaping the benefits. There are enough features in this game to immerse yourself into the day-to-day choices real-life managers make. Check out my previous post here for a complete review of the pros and cons of how it fares as a tycoon game. Finding difficulty in starting? Take a look at our tips and tricks post here.
Tycoon meets base-building meets management. Rimworld is all about leading your random group of colonists to a stable life. Your initial goal is to just meet the absolute basic living needs of your team. Build a small shelter, set up a cooking far, start mining for materials. Once you ensure your group won’t die, then the game gets much more fun. Want to lead a group of cannibals and raid your neighbours for prisoners? Done. Want to create a drug empire and control the globe through drug addiction? Done. Want to be a peaceful tribe of squirrel farmers? Done. There are endless ways to create a stable trading business in this game, and it is up to you to figure out how best to make those sales.
Above all else, Rimworld is about managing your colonists’ strengths and weakness to cover all of the necessary day-to-day tasks. One game I started with 2 drug addicted amputees, a strong (but dumb) labourer, and a 87 year old man with 3 sicknesses. By utilizing their various strengths, I survived until I got a chance to recruit more members into my party. May have involved cannibalizing the old man during winter time, but this game is all about survival anyways. Point is, this game can give you absolutely anything and it is up to YOU to figure out how to survive.
Game Dev Tycoon
The game that got me hooked on tycoon games. If you have ever thought about making games for a living, this brings that dream to reality. Start off as a single developer in your mom’s attic making tiny text-based games to make chump change. Next thing you know you’ve made your first hit and cruising your way to a million dollars. As you move through the game, you get to hire a specialized team, set up a R&D department, send your team off to training sessions, and even make your own console. There may not be as much to customize as in Software Inc, but the overall smooth gameplay makes this a timeless classic of the tycoon genre.
On the other hand, gamers that prefer purely focusing on the business aspect and less of the building/HR/micromanaging will enjoy this title a whole lot more. Regardless of your taste, this game is a definite buy for tycoon-lovers.
Hands you the reigns to a prison and gives you absolute power over your prisoners. You can choose to run a state of the art facility that focuses on getting prisoners back on their feet, or you can abuse the living hell out of them and shove 100 prisoners into one cramped dormitory. Resolve day-to-day issues like prison brawls, rampant blackmarket sales, murders, and suicides. Set-up your security systems to prevent any escape artists from bringing down your reputation, or brutally enforce discipline through a massive guard force.
As with any tycoon game, making money is one of the core aspects of Prison Architect. There are contracts you can take to facilitate the development of industries within your prison, or take on extra high-risk prisoners. There are so many decisions you get to make on how you want to run your prison, and after a certain point I began to question my own morals and ethics. The immersion in this game is absolutely fantastic and managing the needs of your staff and prisoners has never been more fun.
Build your own city from the ground up. Construct skyscrapers, condos, mansions, industrial complexes, and more! Develop your city with the absolute best transportation system including skytrain networks, bus routes, and efficient freeways. Your industrial complex needs to transport goods faster? Build a port and send in cargo ships. Ever want to own your own sports team? You can now build a stadium, advertise games, and win titles. This is one of the most in-depth city building games currently out on the market and has a massive selection of DLCs for you to choose from.
The diverse starting scenarios give this game an incredibly high replayability value. Your entire strategy for expansion changes with the different resources available for you. Relied on timber for your industry last game? Now you have a barren wasteland that happens to be filled with oil. But how do you develop your town to get to that oil? That is where you have to get creative. If you ever get bored, the DLC selection for this game adds entirely new dimensions of gameplay that give you hundreds more hours of entertainment. Become the real estate mogul you always dreamed of becoming!
Two Point Hospital
This one really hits the spot. It came out very recently and I am already hooked onto the game. The theme itself has not been this well done since Theme Hospital and has a very entertaining art/animation style. Build your hospital just the way you want it and optimize your staff’s workflow, or sacrifice efficiency for the sake of better beauty ratings. Develop your staff’s abilities and train them in specific traits that can augment their current medical prowess or maximize your own profits. Of course, what would a hospital simulation be without the ability to cure diseases. If you’re expecting real-world illnesses, be prepared for some surprises. Treating a patient with light-headedness (they literally have a lightbulb for a head) includes sending them to a special machine that unscrews their head and attaches a new one.
Progression in this game has a natural flow to it. There is rarely a moment where I would set the game on fast forward and wait for something interesting to happen – there is always something to do. Each scenario progresses in difficulty in a way that doesn’t hurl you into an un-manageable mess. There is enough training to get you going through the various problems you will meet. For a more complete overview (since I’m still going through this game for the first time), check out PC Gamer’s review here.
Store/Info: Buy Two Point Hospital from Humble Bundle here before September 4th for a 10% discount.
Tycoon, tyrant, same difference right? In Tropico 5 you are the dictator of a small island nation and it is up to you to lead your people through the World Wars, the Depression, the Cold War, and the 21st century! Build your country from a small group of peasants on a farm, to a money-printing machine feeding straight into your Swiss bank account. Develop close relationships to the major world powers to ensure protection, gain perks, and obtain contracts. As with any dictator, you will also have to worry about the constant threat of rebels attempting to overthrow you. Growing your military prowess is a necessity to maintaining your throne – build barracks, tanks, guard towers, and bunkers to dominate those pesky freedom fighters.
Researching new technologies to build factories and produce new, high-profit goods. As your old farms slowly die off, it is important to sustain your economy in a more futuristic way. The mills and mines will run out at a certain point and it is up to you to develop your nation to survive this loss of industry. The simple tasks and problems you have to deal with fully immerse you into the role of a dictator of a tiny, but profitable, island nation.
Stellaris is a sci-fi empire simulation game. You start off with a single planet with a few ships, and citizens that produce tiny amounts of resources. Explore and colonize near-by planets to increase the fuel for your growing war machine. Choose between many different types of governments (including a hive mind similar to StarCraft) and dictate how you want to rule over your subjects. Enslave those who are against your empire or pursue a humanitarian negotiation to resolve conflicts. Similarly, choose to make war against your neighbours for domination or subtly conquer them through peaceful diplomacy. You can fully customize your race’s traits and abilities, leading to interesting combinations that can shape your empire’s final end game.
With the DLCs, you can create your own Dyson Sphere and harvest the sun’s power or build your own planet-sized habitat. Hundreds of hours of content are packed into this game – every single start is randomly generated and provide new challenges for you to overcome.
You might ask, how is this a tycoon game? I might be pulling at straws with this one, but managing your resources in this game felt very similar to the other titles I recommended above. The trade system is also very in-depth and can simulate the business management gameplay. All in all, it is a title worth pursuing if you are into simulation or strategy style games!
The OG tycoon game with updates. I was only a few years old when this franchise first came out, but playing it this year still amazes me at how in-depth this game is. There really is no other game out right now that captures that same entrepreneurial purity. Many games include business management as one of the core features, but this game IS business management. Diversification, managing production chains, marketing, investing in stocks, researching new products, building real estate, planning hostile takeovers, undercutting your opponents, the list goes on. Although this game can be a little hard to get into, Capitalism Lab has quite a few tutorial scenarios and tips to get you well-acquainted with the capitalistic market.
If I had to recommend one game that would embody the entire Tycoon genre, this would be it. You literally cannot get closer to becoming a tycoon than investing into certain industries and building a brand new company from the ground up. Playing Capitalism Lab develops your business critical thinking mind and makes you more aware of where and how to increase your profits. It is a great training model for general business tactics for any newcomers to the business simulation/tycoon style game.
Offworld Trading Company
If trading and manipulating the market is your thing, this is the game for you. You have to compete against vicious competitors in producing and selling goods to the population while utilizing the black market to gain an edge. This game is incredibly complex and has a massive learning curve, but the satisfaction of dominating your opponents make it worth learning. Some of the features the devs have absolutely nailed include: simulating trading markets, allowing true monopolies on resources, forcing conflict and mutual growth with your competitors, and giving you the option of buying out your competitors. Some users on Steam have even called this game one of the most realistic simulations of the 18th century spice trade – the piracy, domination over governments, monopolization, and vicious competition have never been so accurately portrayed.
Store/Info: The base game is on sale on Humble Bundle here for 50% off, and the complete collection is available here for 73% off. (Heavily recommend this one, there is incredible value packed into this game)
Best Tycoon Games 2018
TLDR here is the list of some of the absolute best tycoon games worth playing in 2018.
- Software Inc. (Review here)
- Game Dev Tycoon
- Prison Architect
- Cities Skylines
- Two Point Hospital
- Tropico 5
- Capitalism Lab
- Offworld Trading Company (Complete Collection Here)
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