Business Simulation Games

Business Simulation Games
Credit: Tsyhun/Shutterstock
When is work not work? When it's a game. These apps can help you strut your skills without all the drama that can come with real people. You can manage an amusement park, head a gaming development company, or start a farm. That's all without ever needing to get your hands dirty.

Farming Simulator 17

Farming Simulator 17
Credit: Farming Simulator 17
Business simulation does not always mean you are going to find yourself in an office. continues that trend. If you are looking for a laid-back simulation of life on the farm, Farming Simulator 17 lets you go hands-on and spend some time driving a variety of vehicles around doing jobs on your own farm or others. To be clear, this is still a business: At some point you are going to need to attend to those spreadsheets, and there are spreadsheets aplenty to show your profits and loss on every crop, and eventually 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.

Planet Coaster

Planet Coaster
Credit: Planet Coaster
If you are looking for a business management game, but still want some fast-paced thrills, then Planet Coaster might offer just the right mix. It puts you in charge of an amusement park where you can create roller coasters that defy imagination. There is a Sandbox mode that allows you to pretty much ignore the business realities of the park, but the Career and Challenge modes are true business simulations that require you to meet the needs of your guests or you will quickly derail your park. Once you do have your park up and running efficiently, you can even take a ride on your own coasters.

Game Dev Story

Game Dev Story
Credit: 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, the opportunity to head a game development company isn't entirely out of reach. Game Dev Story puts you in charge of a small game studio with big aspirations. You will build from a few employees to dozens looking to sell millions of games or eventually create your own game console. Despite the simple 16-bit graphics the gameplay is remarkably deep with responsibility for every aspect of the business beyond simply creating games including advertising, conventions, licensing, office space, hiring and training of employees and more. 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.

Motorsport Manager

Motorsport Manager
Credit: Motorsport Manager
Motorsport Manager takes you from behind the wheel and places you in charge of the team that is responsible for putting that driver on the podium. If you aren't already a fan of Formula One racing, 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 you aren't just left spinning your wheels. From the minute details like the components of your car 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 here at every level.

The Founder

The Founder
Credit: The Founder
If you've ever had a passing thought about getting involved in a startup, check out The Founder first. This browser-based game makes you the founder. After you pick a name, pick a co-founder, and pick a type of business, you use seed money to make your first product and then take it to market. The game is endless, and forces you to face decisions like how much to pay employees and how to keep them happy.

Transport Fever

Transport Fever
Credit: Transport Fever
Transport Fever adds airports and harbors to the mix, allowing you to become a true transportation magnate rather than simply 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 rather than simply rehabbing the old. You can either run a campaign in 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 also a sandbox mode that just lets you be a big kid playing with your train, plane and boat lines.

Capitalism Lab

Capitalism Lab
Credit: Capitalism Lab
When the original Capitalism was released all the way back in 1995, it was considered such an accurate business simulator that both Harvard and Stanford used it for educational purposes at the time. Capitalism Lab is the most recent entry in the series. Unlike most business simulators, you are not locked to a single industry: You have the ability to expand into marketing, real estate, manufacturing, purchasing, importing and retail. Players will lose themselves in the depth of the business world portrayed here and ignore any graphical complaints. This is not the game for someone looking to have a little fun with a business simulator; this is billed as hardcore business simulation and is best played by those looking to really learn something about running a business.

Cities: Skylines

Cities: Skylines
Credit: 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 actually possesses, with the ability to build and destroy as you see fit, but the basic template remains operating within your budget and keeping your workers and customers (the population, in this case) happy. The scale of Cities: Skylines is truly astounding – while most city builders feel like densely populated islands, if you build out the full nine regions available to you in this game, you will have a sprawling metropolis on your hands.

Youtubers Life

Youtubers Life
Credit: Youtubers Life
While there was a time that running a YouTube channel might not have been considered running a business by many, it's hard to argue in the face of YouTube celebrities like PewDiePie, who have built multi-million dollar empires through the service. Youtubers Life puts you in the humble shoes of a humble YouTuber who is just trying to get a channel started with some basic equipment. As with actual YouTubers, you are motivated by subscribers and views, building out your arsenal of equipment to make better videos and keep building those numbers. If you've ever aspired to social media stardom, Youtubers Life might be just enough of a glimpse into what goes into this business to dissuade you from that notion.

Job Simulator

Job Simulator
Credit: Job Simulator
There's probably no game title that suggests business simulation more than the simply 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, a chef, a mechanic and a convenience store clerk. The game takes place in 2050 and 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 gameplay is a hilarious reimagining of all of these jobs with office workers tapping away at two keys on a giant keyboard, store clerks firing roman candles at customers, chefs hurling food together and mechanics jamming bananas in tailpipes to help cars pass emissions tests. This game is available on all three of the current VR platforms.