- Business simulation games allow you to experience certain aspects of running a business in a completely virtual, consequence-free environment.
- These simulation games can help you develop hard and soft business management skills.
- To play the 16 business simulation games on this list, you’ll need a PC with enough processing power for video games. Some games are also available on Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4.
- This article is for entrepreneurs interested in using business simulations to sharpen their skills without real-life repercussions.
Want to launch a business without the risk and hard work? Play a business simulation game. These apps can help you strut your skills without all the drama that comes with a real business. You can manage an amusement park, head a gaming development company or start a farm.
Here’s a look at how business simulation games can help burgeoning entrepreneurs and an overview of the best business simulation games of 2022.
What are business simulation games?
Business simulation games are precisely what they sound like. They’re “edutainment” tools that can help you sharpen your business management skills without any real-world consequences or workplace stress. Your game will resemble real-life business experiences, but any mistakes you make in the game won’t have any real risk or repercussions. All your mistakes happen only in the game.
Key takeaway: Business simulation games help you learn to be a good manager by recreating real-life business environments in fun, stress-free ways.
What are the benefits of playing business simulation games?
The startup mistakes and career mistakes you make in business simulation games can help you avoid similar errors in the real world. Business simulation games can also help you hone all sorts of soft business skills, such as communication, leadership, operations – you name it.
Some business simulation games can help you develop hard skills specific to your industry, as well as many other in-demand skills. In fact, many of the examples on our list of excellent business simulation games are highly industry-specific.
Key takeaway: Business simulation games help you develop hard and soft business skills without your mistakes having any real-life impact.
The 16 best business simulation games
Ready to improve your business skills without making real-life mistakes that have actual consequences? Get started with the 16 business simulation games below.
1. Youtubers Life
While there was a time when operating a YouTube channel might not have been considered running a business, it’s hard to argue that now. Youtubers Life puts you in the humble shoes of a YouTuber trying to start a channel with some basic equipment.
Like real-life YouTubers, you are motivated by subscribers and views, building your arsenal of equipment to make better videos, building your following and growing your channel. In addition to building a social media presence, you must also manage a social life, education and eventually employees.
Youtubers Life is a single-player video game that was released in 2016. You can buy it on Steam and access it via Microsoft Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.
Youtubers Life 2 dropped in October 2021. It has new features, such as in-game real-life YouTubers, different types of content to cover, and a city you can explore to inspire your content. You can find Youtubers Life 2 on Steam and access it via Windows, macOS, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Used for entertainment, training and leadership development purposes, Virtonomics is a series of multiplayer business simulation games that includes Virtonomics Entrepreneur, Virtonomics Mafia Manager and Virtonomics Tycoon.
In the Virtonomics series, there are no predefined rules to winning or losing, and the game does not end. Although users choose their goals in the game, the most common goal is to build a successful business in a competitive society. Players can work within many industries, including agriculture, manufacturing, retail, finance, marketing and science.
Virtonomics is a massive multiplayer online game launched in 2006. It’s available in several languages and is free to play online after creating an account.
3. Two Point Hospital
When you play Two Point Hospital, you’re put in the role of a hospital administrator. You build and manage a hospital, cure diseases, and continually improve your hospital and staff.
Along with building a hospital and designing it to improve patient happiness, you’ll be tasked with finding a cure for highly unusual illnesses.
If you’ve been dreaming of running a hospital or want an idea of what being a doctor is like without going to medical school, try Two Point Hospital.
Two Point Hospital is the successor of the popular simulation game Theme Hospital and was released in 2018. It’s available on Microsoft Windows, Linux and macOS through Steam. You can also get it on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch.
4. Tropico 4
Tropico 4 is one of the most highly reviewed simulation games in the eight-part Tropico series. In a game that combines city management and political manipulation, you are tasked with building an ideal nation across several islands.
As the game progresses, you must learn to cope with being framed for murder and clear your name to eventually rebuild your nation. The game combines strategy, humor and intellect to complete 20 missions spread out over 10 different maps.
Tropico 4 is a single-player game that was released in 2011. Buy it on Steam and access it via Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360 and macOS. The more recent installation, Tropico 6, is also available for PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch.
5. Transport Fever
As a successor of Train Fever, Transport Fever adds airports and harbors to the mix, allowing you to become a true transportation magnate rather than simply a master of the rails. The game starts in 1850, and as time marches forward, so do your transportation options. Your goal is to facilitate transportation both within and between settlements.
You need to make decisions regarding the most cost-effective vehicles to get this done and when to upgrade to new vehicles. You can run a campaign in either the U.S. or Europe, with both offering missions based on historical transportation challenges.
If you want to take a break from the business management aspect of things, there’s a sandbox mode that lets you be a big kid and play with your train, plane and boat lines.
Transport Fever was released in 2016. You can purchase the game on Steam and access it via Microsoft Windows, Linux and macOS.
6. RollerCoaster Tycoon
As part of an amusement park simulation series, RollerCoaster Tycoon takes you through the adventures of building and managing a theme park. As a member of management, you are tasked with constructing and customizing roller coasters and thrill rides. You can build the ultimate theme park with various coaster types and in-park attractions.
RollerCoaster Tycoon was initially released in 1999, and it’s now available in nine versions. You can buy it on Steam and access it via Microsoft Windows, macOS, iOS, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch.
7. Rise of Industry
Have you ever wondered what it’d be like to live in the early 20th century? When you play Rise of Industry, you become an early-1900s industrialist. During the game, you build and manage a growing empire. You can build factories and transport lines, keep an eye out for the next big thing, find gaps in the market, and negotiate business deals.
Rise of Industry was released in 2018. You can purchase it on Steam and play it on Microsoft Windows, Linux, and macOS.
8. Motorsport Manager
Motorsport Manager takes you from behind the wheel and puts you behind the team. In this simulation game, you manage the team responsible for putting a driver on the podium.
You will quickly find, as is so often the case with business simulators, that there is a whole lot more going on behind the scenes than you could have imagined. The early portion of the game is heavy on tutorials to ease you into things so that you aren’t just left spinning your wheels.
From minute details like car components and race-day decisions to big-picture tasks like assembling your team and voting on rules and regulations for the sport, there is a wealth of content at every level.
Motorsport Manager is a single-player game released in 2014. It’s available across several platforms, including Android, iOS, Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux and Nintendo Switch.
If you love transportation and trains, you may want to check out Mashinky. In the game, you develop a transport business on a procedurally generated map, manage your empire, and improve your assets.
You start the game in control of a transport company. During the game, you lay tracks on hard terrain, buy new vehicles, manage routes, and try to make as much profit as possible.
While the full version of this game has been in development for years, you can be at the forefront and play in early-access mode while the game develops. It is currently available for Microsoft Windows.
10. Job Simulator
Probably no game title suggests business simulation more than the aptly named Job Simulator.
Unlike most business simulators that put you in charge of everything, Job Simulator places you in the role of an office worker, chef, mechanic and convenience store clerk. The game takes place in 2050, where robots have replaced all human jobs, so humans who want to get a taste of what work was like hop into the “Job Simulator.”
The game is a hilarious reimagining of all these jobs, with office workers tapping away at two keys on a giant keyboard, store clerks firing Roman candles at customers, chefs hurling food and mechanics jamming bananas in tailpipes to help cars pass emissions tests.
Job Simulator was released in 2016. It’s a VR game you can access via Microsoft Windows and PlayStation 4.
11. Game Dev Story
Making video games for a living is a dream job for many, but if you aren’t ready to take the plunge on that career change, try Game Dev Story.
This game puts you in charge of a small game studio with big aspirations. You build from a few employees to dozens looking to produce a “million-selling game” or eventually create your own game console.
Despite the simple 16-bit graphics, the game is remarkably deep; players are responsible for every aspect of the business beyond creating games, including advertising, conventions, licensing, office space, and hiring and training employees.
Gamers familiar with the console wars of the ’80s to the early 2000s will particularly enjoy Game Dev Story, as there are many nods to classic consoles and events.
Game Dev Story was initially released in 1997 on Microsoft Windows and has since been ported to other platforms, including iOS, Android, Windows Phone and Nintendo Switch.
Tip: Love gaming and developing games? Become a video game tester who checks for glitches, notes broken applications and ensures game functionality.
12. Farming Simulator 17
Business simulation doesn’t always mean you’ll find yourself in an office. Farming Simulator 17 lets you go hands-on and spend some time driving various vehicles while doing jobs on your farm or other farms.
However, farming is still a business, so at some point, you are going to need to attend to those spreadsheets. These will show your profits and loss on every crop, livestock and forestry. Make the call on when to net the biggest gains from your goods, and you can buy or lease new equipment to make the next season even better.
Farming Simulator 17 was released in 2016. It’s available for purchase via several outlets and can be played on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows and macOS.
13. Cities: Skylines
Running a city can be a lot like running a business. While SimCity started this genre, Cities: Skylines is the reigning champ.
In this game, you wield vastly more power than any mayor or city planner, with the ability to build and destroy as you see fit. However, the basic strategy is operating within your budget and keeping your workers and customers (in this case, the population) happy.
The scale of Cities: Skylines is truly astounding. While most city builders feel like densely populated islands, if you build out the entire nine regions available to you in this game, you will have a sprawling metropolis on your hands. You can even add an extension pack, such as Industries, where players can customize industrial areas.
Cities: Skylines is a single-player game released in 2015. It’s compatible with PlayStation 4, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows, macOS and Linux.
14. Anno 1404
Anno 1404 (Dawn of Discovery in North America) is part of the seven-game Anno series. It’s a city-building and economic simulation game that takes place in an era mimicking medieval and Renaissance history.
The primary strategy of the game focuses on engaging in trade, stockpiling building material and constructing monuments like a Gothic cathedral and an Arabic mosque. As the leader, you must colonize islands, create factories and farms for your citizens, embrace diplomatic relationships with AI players, and eventually take part in combat to protect your empire.
Anno 1404 can be a single-player or multiplayer game. It was released in 2009 and is available on Microsoft Windows.
15. Constructor Plus
In Constructor Plus, you’ll build a town full of quirky characters and (hopefully) thriving businesses. You’ll also be responsible for all the town’s architecture, and you can choose from 147 buildings and 65 pre-built cities.
You can decide which gameplay objectives interest you, but your main goal is typically making the greatest profit off your developments. Unusual game features include hitmen and giant cockroaches that can rid your town of undesirable people. Just watch out for the Housing Authority.
Constructor Plus was released in 2019, following the original Constructor game in 1997. It’s available for Nintendo Switch or on Windows via Steam.
16. Space Company Simulator
Unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the billionaire space race. You can get in on it via the business simulation game Space Company Simulator. Your goal is to make your space travel company the industry’s leading name. While you’re at it, you’ll plan the first human-crewed mission to Mars. As you do so, you can hire new employees, refine your technology, design rockets and so much more.
Space Company Simulator was released in 2019. You can purchase it through Steam to play on Windows.
Max Freedman contributed to the writing and research in this article.