Business Simulation Games

business gaming
Credit: alphaspirit/Shutterstock
Want to launch a business without the risk and hard work? Play a business simulation game. These apps can help your 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 are the best business simulation games of 2019.

Capitalism Lab

Capitalism Lab
Credit: Capitalism Lab
When the original Capitalism was released in 1995, it was considered 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 can 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: Paradox Interactive
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 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.

Want more Cities: Skylines? Add an extension pack such as Industries where players can customize industrial areas.

Farming Simulator 17

Farming Simulator 17
Credit: Focus Home Interactive
Business simulation does not always mean you are going to find yourself in an office. 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 while 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.

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.

Game Dev Story

Game Dev Story
Credit: Kairosoft Co.,Ltd
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. The game 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 game 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.

Job Simulator

Job Simulator
Credit: Owlchemy Labs
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 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 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.

Mashinky

Mashinky
Credit: Jan Zeleny
If you love transportation and trains, you may want to check out Mashinky. With Mashinky, 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 need to lay tracks on hard terrain, buy new vehicles, manage routes and make as much profit as possible. While the full version of this game won’t be released until later in 2019, you can play in early access.

Motorsport Manager

Motorsport Manager
Credit: Playsport Games
Motorsport Manager takes you from behind the wheel. In the game, you manage the team that is 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 you aren't just left spinning your wheels. From 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.

Rise of Industry

Rise of Industry
Credit: Dapper Penguin Studios
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 20th century industrialist. During the game, you build and manage a growing empire. You can build factories, transport lines, keep an eye out for the next big thing, find gaps in the market and strike business deals.

If your business does well, you'll get to expand and change your business throughout the game, so it keeps growing.

Transport Fever

Transport Fever
Credit: Urban Games
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.

Two Point Hospital

Two Point Hospital
Credit: 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 out Two Point Hospital.

Youtubers Life

Youtubers Life
Credit: U-Play Online
While there was a time that running 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 humble YouTuber who is just trying to get a channel started with some basic equipment. Like 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.