The author is an avid PC gamer with a passion for business simulation games.
Business simulations let you pretend you're a tycoon, raking in money, investing carefully, and watching your empire grow!
There are a lot of business games out there right now, but it is an unforgiving genre, and bad games usually don't last long. In the last few years, there's been a boom of "tycoon" series games some of which are those dreaded "time-management" or "click-fest" games. With so many garbage business games and imitations out there, separating the wheat from the chaff is tough.
What follows is a list of the 10 best business simulation games. They are ranked alphabetically because it is simply not possible to rank them, in my opinion. All the games on this list are very good, the rest are a matter of personal preference. They can all be purchased on Amazon.
The 10 Best Business Simulation PC Games
- Airline Tycoon
- Europa Universalis
- The Patrician
- Railroad Tycoon
- Roller Coaster Tycoon
- Transport Tycoon
1. Airline Tycoon
Airline Tycoon might be one of the most controversial games on this list. It wasn't a best-seller and hasn't always been seen as a very serious game.
Airline Tycoon is a lighthearted game. You are the owner of one of the four airlines competing with each other at the same airport, and there's a lot of sabotage and hijinks. Nevertheless, it's a challenging game. It's cartoony, but its core economic system works fine. Airline Tycoon is also fairly uncomplicated, so good for beginners, and a fun change pace for long-time fans of the genre.
Airline Tycoon II is very good as well.
The Anno series games are about colony- and empire-building. The basic premise involves landing on an island and effectively managing resources in order to build up a profitable colony. The game focuses on the colony's economy, and it's very tough to both turn a profit and still make your colony pretty. There's also a military and combat aspect to the gameplay.
Anno is an enormous franchise. It includes the following games:
- Anno 1602 (1998) was known as 1602 A.D. in the U.S. and Australia.
- Anno 1503 or 1503 A.D. (2003) This sequel introduced bigger islands, more complex buildings and military, and different resources from 1602.
- Anno 1701 or 1701 A.D. (2006) This installment is quite different. While the main principles are the same, you have to deal with your country's queen and meddling homeland government. Eventually, you can fight for your colony's independence. Other features include sabotage and natural disasters.
- Anno 1404, known in the U.S. as Dawn of Discovery (2009) In this Anno sequel, the quality started to dwindle, and not much new was added to the game.
- Anno 2070 (2011) is the most recent addition to the franchise, poses new ecological and financial challenges by being set in the future.
Caesar is a city-building game set during the Roman Empire. In this game, you try to transform your towns into big cities—sort of like SimCity, but with more barbarian hordes.
The game's combat system, graphics, and other features have improved in the various sequels: Caesar II, Caesar III, and Caesar IV. Unlike many other series, in which quality diminishes after too many sequels, the Caesar franchise has remained consistently good.
Capitalism is a hardcore business game, so much so that some call it the most boring business simulation game. I would argue it's just very good at what it does: simulating business. In Capitalism, you manufacture and sell products. From farm to supermarket, you have to manage materials and resources to make products. The game also makes you pay attention to supply and demand to maximize your profits. If you're not careful in expanding your business, you can end up in a bubble or a crash.
Capitalism II is just an expansion of the first game, with improved A.I. and a few more things you can do.
5. Europa Universalis
Some wouldn't call Europa Universalis a business game; from a grand perspective, it is one because it's about running a country. The key aim in this game is not to bankrupt your country, keep inflation in check, and try to expand your country's territory while keeping good diplomatic relationships with other empires.
Europa Universalis has some interesting sequels, such as:
- Europa Universalis II (2001), which spans 1419 to 1820.
- Europa Universalis III (2007), which starts in 1453 and ends in 1789, just before the French Revolution.
- Europa Universalis: Rome (2008), which takes place during the Roman Republic.
- Europa Universalis IV (2013), which includes the Napoleonic Wars.
Europa Universalis is extremely challenging. The game's economic system is difficult to master, especially if you're not used to business games. Still, a great choice for a game-playing megalomaniac!
6. The Patrician
The Patrician was rather unknown until its third installment. In this game, you are a businessman in the Hanseatic League, a commercial confederation from medieval Northern Europe. To succeed, you trade goods all over Europe, while also trying to gain political power and becoming an Alderman of the Hanseatic League.
The sequels include:
- Patrician II (2000), which is very similar to the first.
- Patrician III: Rise of the Hanse (2003) is much better, with new industries to play with and a superior economic game. The pirates are more bothersome and provide a significant challenge.
- Patrician IV (2010)
7. Railroad Tycoon
Railroad Tycoon was the first of the "tycoon" games. To play, you transport passengers and goods while building up your rail empire. The first one was very basic: a flat surface with black rectangles going over grid-like lines.
- Railroad Tycoon II (1998) is a leap in the future, with far more customization available. You can build railways with height differences, tunnels, bridges—the whole works! There's also a stock market and good competition, many different scenarios, and nice introductory movies with good voice acting.
- Railroad Tycoon III (2003) is just an improved version of the second game. It has an improved supply-and-demand engine.
- Sid Meier's Railroads! (2006) is the first game since the first to have been made with direct input from Sid Meier, the series' creator. This installment has full 3D graphics, and you can follow your trains on their routes. Unfortunately, the interface is a bit buggy.
8. Roller Coaster Tycoon
Rollercoaster Tycoon has no relation to Railroad Tycoon, but rather to the creator Chris Sawyer's other success, Transport Tycoon. The building interface has a typical grid surface and isometric style. Gameplay involves building your theme park, enticing people to spend loads of money, and building even better rides.
- Rollercoaster Tycoon 2 (2002) is mostly the same as the first with a few added bells and whistles.
- Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 (2004) is rather different from the first two. First, it wasn't bound to an isometric system; you could ride your attractions, make fireworks displays, and customize the scenery. Subsequent expansion packs let you add swimming pools or animals to the parks you made.
When I first played SimCity it was love at first sight. I saw those little white blocks of cars moving down the road whenever I closed my eyes. When it was published in 1989, it was one of the best games available for PC, and it still holds up. It was followed by a number of sequels:
- SimCity 2000 (1994) is very different from the original and still considered the best game of the series. Besides its futuristic name, it had an isometric 3D view, more disasters, and a height map. I found it just as addictive as the original, if not more.
- SimCity 3000 (1999) is, unfortunately, quite badly produced.
- SimCity 4 (2003) brought the franchise back to its original glory. This sequel has 3D graphics, loads of different kinds of buildings, pretty views, different kinds of transportation, an editor where you can design your own buildings, and the regional map so multiple cities can interact with each other.
- SimCity Societies (2007) is a travesty. I don't consider this one to even be part of the SimCity series.
10. Transport Tycoon
Transport Tycoon is a game that I played not only for hours or days, but weeks! Dare I say even months! It's one of the most addictive business simulation games. Transport Tycoon has been revamped by its own dedicated fan base over the years thanks to Chris Sawyer, the creator who let them alter the game.
Transport Tycoon is about being a manager and owner of a transport company. You try to earn as much money as you can while improving your rail network, which is incredibly fun and addictive.
NietzscheWasHere on April 18, 2020:
miguelll , many thanks, Sim Companies is a great game, great recommendation man
miguelll on January 17, 2020:
https://www.simcompanies.com/ref/267635/ this is online and best ever play
JinTin on September 18, 2017:
They are pretty good
BABU RAMABADHRAN on March 04, 2017:
Need some physical activities outside the scope of Software or videos. People such do it hands on with physcial gadgets , do we have games like that.
maxwell on December 12, 2016:
I love it,its different from other games I played
awesome dude on August 20, 2016:
Aurelien Viaud on August 05, 2016:
You should try Industry Giant 2 from Jowood Games. It is the best in my point of view. Available in Steam
Anon on July 28, 2016:
Could also try open ttd?
RONinAUSTRALIA on September 29, 2015:
Transport Tycoon was an excellent game .. but the follow in game LOCOMOTION was a 1,000% improvement.... I have both games.
Diego on August 08, 2015:
Capitalism game is still under development, check the website of Capitalism Lab!
Simona Vir on July 24, 2015:
I am wondering why the biggest business simulation game gathering over 1 million users are not included here when the smaller ones are here. Somebody did a bad research. You should definitely rethink or update your list. Visit Virtonomics.com to see what I am talking about.
rlip on January 02, 2015:
Capitalism 2 has a great expansion - Capitalism Lab. Sadly there is no multiplayer option.
fizzledwar on December 31, 2014:
I came here in Search of more business strategy game ive been playing capitalism and a little of The M&A Game for android.there are not a lot of actual business stategy games out there but the few that are, are not even listed. You just have 1 and a bunch of war strategy and tycoon games. You should change the title
leonvd on July 28, 2014:
No zoo tycoon?
I loved that game
maurinehmontalvo8 on June 23, 2014:
Ah, good old Rollercoaster Tycoon. I miss that game!
gmrwebteam lm on October 07, 2013:
This one is fascinating one. I have never heard about such type of business games as mentioned above. But good to know about such games.
anonymous on March 11, 2013:
What? No Industry Giant in the list?
GryvixS (author) on January 31, 2013:
@anonymous: gazillionaire is a great game!
anonymous on January 25, 2013:
The oldie but addictive one that has now gone online is Gazzillionaire.
anonymous on December 27, 2012:
Capitalism is the Best. I think you should add Civilization in the list.
makemoneyonline5 on October 29, 2012:
Well done on your lens :)
anonymous on September 07, 2012:
veeeery nice lens...my fav are capitalism and ceaser , but from above are great ....congrats...
anonymous on July 12, 2012:
@anonymous: Also The Movies, by lion head was left out. That game sadly beats any Tycoon game I have played. There is also the odd simulator games by Giants, Farmer Simulator, and Ski Resort Simulator.
anonymous on July 12, 2012:
Pft The Guild 2 series wasn't included, its the big bro of Patrician. In my opinion its not the best, but is still a good business game, even if its been mislabeled as an RTS/RPG. Its more of a RPG/Business game.
top-notch-shop on March 19, 2012:
spiritualll on August 31, 2011:
I saw your lenses now! They are nice!
I was thinking to show them to others. I hope you keep creating them.
I didn't hesitate to squidlike some of them!
GOOD LUCK ON SQUIDOO
May you earn much Money $$$!
Barbara Tremblay Cipak from Toronto, Canada on January 28, 2011:
Didn't even know these kind of games existed! Made as a favorite lens so I can go back and check them out when I need to buy an original gift!
GoodinDevelopme on January 19, 2011:
Love these kind of games. Fun lens, enjoyed reading it.
GryvixS (author) on January 19, 2011:
They are very good, no violence, suitable for young and old. And most are somewhat educative: either it is about economics or about history.
Virginia Allain from Central Florida on January 18, 2011:
I must admit I've never tried any of these. We played Monopoly when we were kids, but that was a long time ago.
capriliz lm on January 18, 2011:
Looks like an interesting collection of games that you have. My niece was into the Roller coaster games.
And welcome to Squidoo!
GryvixS (author) on January 17, 2011:
@mini cheong: Yeah, but it was top-notch game then ^^, but the advancements made in a few years 1990 to 1993 is big: the difference between Railroad Tycoon is so huge: or Simcity vs. Simcity 200!
mini cheong on January 17, 2011:
Wow Railroad Tycoon, I remember those days building those tracks. They were so awesome :D