One of the great things about PC gaming is the vast number of games that you can play, and one genre that has flourished on the PC are tycoon games. Extremely popular in the late 90s and early 2000s, tycoon and management games are making a comeback which has seen the genre become stronger than ever, thanks in part to the growth of the indie development scene which has seen an explosion in the games hitting the market.
Whether you want to run your own software company, operate your own airport, run a sustainable prison or build the theme park of your dreams, these games allow you to do exactly that! To try and showcase some of the best tycoon games that you can play right now or that are in development, we’ve compiled a list to showcase some of our personal favourites and hopefully help you discover some of these gems you may not know existed.
10) Theme Hospital
You can’t have any list of the best tycoon games without including Theme Hospital! Arguably one of the most loved PC games of all time, Theme Hospital tasks players with building and running their very own hospital, ensuring that patients are treated and cured of all manner of bizarre and crazy illnesses they somehow manage to catch or develop. While patient care is, of course, vital in any hospital, Theme Hospital is also a business management sim at heart, so you’ll have to manage your finances accordingly so that you can keep upgrading your hospital, allowing you to treat more patients which means more money for you.
Developer: Bullfrog Productions
Check out Theme Hospital here.
9) Transport Fever
If you’re a fan of transport and have dreamed of owning your own transport company, Transport Fever is the game for you. The game starts players in 1850, and it is your job to build and grow your company through the decades that follow. While the game focuses mainly on railroad transport, players are able to construct stations, airports and harbors to allow you to connect to areas that need a transport service. You can also be responsible for watching cities grow and evolve throughout time by providing them with transport access and delivering cargo and resources they need.
Developer: Urban Games
Check out Transport Fever here.
8) GameDev Tycoon
We all love playing games, but have you ever wanted to make them and run your very own game development studio? If you don’t possess the skills to make your own games in real life, thankfully there’s a solution in GameDev Tycoon! The game starts you off with a one man studio operating out of your garage in the late 80s. From here it’s up to you to develop your own games by choosing from a range of different features and genres to include, all of which impact on the quality of your game and how well it is received. As expected, you need to make money and reinvest that into upgrading your offices, new technology, staff, research etc. It’s addictive, so be warned!
Developer: Greenheart Games
Check out GameDev Tycoon here.
7) Big Pharma
Big Pharma is a game that makes you choose between ridding the world of disease or increasing your profits. The choice is yours as you start your very own pharmaceutical company responsible for creating and producing drugs to be sold to doctors and stores across the world. You set your prices, create patents and try to make your business as profitable as possible. As the game itself says, illness is good for business. The question is, how far do you take that statement?
Developer: Twice Circled
Check out Big Pharma here.
6) Software Inc.
Software Inc. is a tech management simulation game that puts you in charge of your very own software company. You must build your offices and purchase equipment you will need before you begin developing your first piece of software, which can range from anything from video games to operating systems to graphic and audio programs, with everything in between. Software Inc. gives you a lot of choice and freedom to take your company in the direction of your choosing. If money is hard to come by or you’re not having much luck, freelance work is available, as is purchasing and selling shares in other companies. It’s not only a business management game but also a great insight into the world of software development.
Developer: Core Dumping
Check out Software Inc. here.
Airport management games are becoming all the rage right now with two such games making our list of the best tycoon games. First up is SimAirport, an airport simulation/tycoon game which, as you guessed it, puts you in charge of building and running your very own airport. Players have full creative freedom to build their airport how they choose, having to take into account road access, pipelines, runways, baggage and luggage systems, as well as security and checking in. There’s a lot to keep you busy, that’s for sure, and it’s only in Early Access. The developers release regular updates and have big plans for SimAirport. Anyone familiar with Prison Architect will feel right at home here, with the graphic style and general gameplay being very similar.
Check out SimAirport here.
4) Capitalism II
Capitalism II is the ultimate business management game, as it allows players to create and control a business empire that you can grow into a multi-million dollar venture. The game is extremely deep and will have players marketing their business and goods, manufacturing products, purchasing and importing goods as well as exporting them. Players will also have to run their own stores, employ workers and observe the market to stay one step ahead. Capitalism II is unlike any game that has been released within the last decade. Frankly, it’s a niche market, but if you can find the time to understand how the game works and love the idea of an in-depth business simulation game, Capitalism II is well worth a shot. You can grab it on GOG fairly cheaply as well.
Developer: Enlight Software
Check out Capitalism II here.
3) Planet Coaster
There are a few theme park tycoon games that could have made the list, but in the end we feel that Planet Coaster edges it due to its huge amount of customisation options and freedom it gives players to truly create the theme park of your dreams. The amount of detail and tools available in Planet Coaster is quite remarkable, with nearly every kind of park imaginable being catered for by the developers. In short, if you’re looking for the ultimate theme park building game, look no further than this. It really is that good, seriously.
Developer: Frontier Developments
Check out Planet Coaster here.
2) Prison Architect
Doing exactly what its name suggests, Prison Architect allows players to design and build their very own prisons while also attempting to make it at least somewhat sustainable financially. If you’ve ever wanted to run a prison, boss prisoners around and make their lives a misery, or a dream depending on what kind of warden you are, Prison Architect ticks all of the boxes. As civilisations have become…more civilised, we’ve moved on from the times when looking after prisoners could simply consist of locking them up and throwing away the key. Those times are behind us, meaning that you’ll have to build everything from canteens, infirmaries, classrooms, showering blocks and all manner of other facilities that prisoners need, or they’ll riot. No one said being a prison warden was easy, did they?
Developer: Introversion Software
Check out Prison Architect here.
1) Airport CEO
Airport CEO is a tycoon and management game that has got us really excited. Of course, the focus here is still on building and running your airport, but the game puts you specifically in the shoes of a CEO, which means that the business side of things should be relatively deep. After all, there’s a lot that goes into keeping an airport functional than just simply building it. This is what Airport CEO aims to task the players with doing. As CEO, players will also have to keep passengers happy as well as the numerous airlines in the game, secure the airport and keep it safe from would-be criminals, maintain equipment and even manage bad weather that causes delays or emergency landings.
Developer: Apoapsis Studios
Check out Airport CEO here.