All of us, secretly or not, have always wanted to build our empire. It could be any business – a theme park, an aquarium, a hospital or a game development company. No matter how crazy your dreams might seem, they can all come true in the best tycoon games! In these management or economic simulation games, you will discover the joy that comes with creating a profitable business from the ground up, seeing it function smoothly and constantly upgrading it to keep your customers happy.
But be careful because just like in real life, setting up businesses in these games comes with great risk too. You need a good strategy, brilliant decision making skills, economic stability, the ability to handle unforeseen circumstances and of course, a passion to keep building and growing. If you think you have what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur in these games, check out our list of the top tycoon games (or business simulation games) that you should play.
Best Tycoon Games to play in 2023
Here is a list of the best tycoon games you need to download and play. If you are bored in lock-down, this list will help you to pick some of the best simulation games.
15. Tropico 6
In this satirical city builder and management simulation game, you don’t just run a business – you run an entire nation. You are El Presidente, the leader of the island nation of Tropico, and you are tasked with building the nation (on an archipelago of small islands) from scratch and developing it through four different eras.
As a player, you can be a great leader who prioritizes the people’s needs or you can be a dictator who, well, does dictator-like things like manipulating others, getting people assassinated, being corrupt etc. If you do decide to play as a fearsome dictator though, remember that there will be repercussions which might lead you to losing your wealth, the approval of your citizens and even getting invaded. If you keep at it, you will get voted out! Overall, Tropico 6 has all the elements of city building, strategy, politics, trading and more which makes it highly addictive.
- Initial Release date: 29 March 2019
- Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Mac, Linux, Switch (TBA)
- Publisher: Kalypso Media
- Developer: Limbic Entertainment
14. Surviving Mars
If you are looking for something different in the genre of tycoon games, this might be the game for you. ‘Surviving Mars’ gives players a chance to build a habitable and growing colony on Mars. As you can tell, the problems on the cold red planet will be much different from the problems you would face on Earth and that’s what makes this tycoon game so thrilling and challenging.
Being on Mars, you are given the tough task to ensure that your colony survives all the various situations that you encounter while maintaining the happiness levels of your colonists. Here, small things like dust can snowball into bigger life threatening problems for your people. You will need to get into things like repairing equipment, using drones, constructing domes, maintaining the colonies while keeping optimum levels of oxygen, food and water. Players will also face random events like alien invasion, war and plagues which will keep things very interesting.
- Initial Release Date: 15 March 2018
- Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Mac, Linux
- Publisher: Paradox Interactive
- Developer: Haemimont Games
13. Planet Coaster
Planet Coaster is a vibrant construction and management simulation game made by Frontier Developments, the same people who developed RollerCoaster Tycoon 3. Being such pros in the genre of theme park tycoon games, they surely didn’t disappoint with Planet Coaster. Similar to RollerCoaster Tycoon, your main mission in this game is to create a mind-blowing theme park. But not just any theme park – it should be the theme park where families come to have the time of their lives.
You can show off your creativity in Planet Coaster by utilizing various creation and design tools and building crazy, weird or fear-inducing roller coasters that the general public will love. You can design and customize almost everything and convert your initial empty area into a full-fledged theme park filled with fun activities to do. With three modes, Career, Challenge and Sandbox, there’s a lot to play so prepare yourself to spend endless hours in this complex and engrossing game.
- Initial Release Date: 17 November 2016 (PC)
- Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4 (TBA), Xbox One (TBA)
- Publisher: Frontier Developments
- Developer: Frontier Developments
12. Planet Zoo
Do you love caring for animals and secretly want to make a business out of it? Well, you can in Planet Zoo! In this management game, which is yet another offering from Frontier Developments, you must build a zoo where various animals can live happily. But running a zoo isn’t a cakewalk and players will realize this as you progress in this game. Everything needs constant attention in this zoo, just like real life. Animals can get nervous or stressed due to lack of privacy, they can fall sick, they can give birth, they can fight with each other and they can even..gulp..die. Depending on how you play this tycoon game, you will end up with a mixed bag of emotions. Are your animals happy? Great! Is an animal feeling isolated and lonely? Oh no. Is the cage too small for that animal? Oops. This game will make you feel instantly guilty for your mistakes which might make a bigger impact on your psyche than colonists dying on Surviving Mars.
Apart from the realistic problems of managing a zoo, it also includes realistic and beautiful animations of the animals just roaming around in their habitats. In Planet zoo, the comfort of your animals is of prime importance while balancing all the zoo-related management tasks. Check out this game to see if you can become a successful zoo owner!
- Initial release date: 5 November 2019
- Platform: PC
- Publisher: Frontier Developments
- Developer: Frontier Developments
11. Big Pharma
This game is a dream come true for those who have always dreamed about running a factory. As a player, you take on the role of the manager of a billion-dollar pharmaceutical company which produces drugs from raw materials. Sounds boring? It’s far from it! The developers have managed to add a lot of unique details and puzzle aspects in this complex tycoon game, where you will make optimum use of space to place machinery, compete with other pharmaceutical companies, check the market for saturation while aiming for good profits.
The main mechanic of the game involves the creation of a drug where players need to balance the positive effects of the drug’s ingredients with the negative side effects. You can conduct researches, expand production lines to include advanced machinery and upsell your medicines to ensure that your pharmaceutical company stays profitable. In Big Pharma, you get a chance to cure diseases and basically save the world. Don’t want to save the world and, instead, want to indulge in malpractices? The game’s Marketing and Malpractice expansion lets you do that too.
- Initial release date: 27 August 2015
- Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, Linux, Mac
- Publisher: Positech Games, Klabater
- Developer: Twice Circled
10. Prison Architect
Don’t be fooled by the graphics of this game. Prison Architect is, in fact, quite a detailed and challenging game. At its core, Prison Architect is about constructing and running a prison successfully. What could go wrong? Well, a lot. You need to ensure that your prisoners are doing well, hire capable staff members, build facilities, introduce reform programs and manage the finances of the prison.
While doing all this, players need to remember that it’s a prison so keeping an eye out for criminal activities like fighting, smuggling, rioting and escaping is crucial. Unlike other tycoon games, the people you have to manage here are prisoners with their own history of crime including burglary and murder. There won’t be a dull moment with so many inmates around, so prepare for a heck of a good time in this game.
- Initial release date: 6 October 2015
- Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, Mac, Linux, Xbox 360
- Publisher: Introversion Software, Paradox Interactive, Double Eleven
- Developer: Introversion Software, Double Eleven
9. Cities: Skylines
Cities: Skylines might be one of the best (if not THE best) city building games out there. It’s evident that it’s greatly inspired by SimCity but there’s a lot that makes this game different. It has a vast array of city-building tools which you can use to expand your city and keep growing. It doesn’t come without challenges though. Traffic control, burning buildings, making sure that fire trucks and ambulances reach their destinations on time are some of the problems you will come across in this game. You will need to also incorporate systems like drainage and power in order to make your city grow. The plot available for you to start building is massive, so you might just catch yourself spending long hours on this game.
Overall, this game is much more relaxing as compared to the other best tycoon games so if that’s what you want, Cities: Skylines is the game for you. Though, you will experience natural disasters ripping through your city including earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, sinkholes, thunderstorms and meteors. Planning ahead of time and responding to early warning systems can prove to be useful in such cases. So, go ahead and flex your creativity with this city builder game.
- Initial Release Date: 10 March 2015
- Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, Mac, Linux
- Publisher: Paradox Interactive
- Developer: Colossal Order
Frostpunk is a city-building game with a dark survival element added to it. It’s set in a world where volcanic eruptions, dimming of the sun and other changes have created a volcanic winter worldwide. To combat this crisis, generators are installed in the coal-rich areas up North which will act as city centers in case the need for mass migration arises.
Players play the role of ‘The Captain’ who leads one such city around a generator. Your main goal will be to ensure the city survives this cold, tense life by providing essential resources. Problem-solving, proper allocation of workers and creating new technology are just a few things you have to do in Frostpunk. This might not be the game for you if you prefer a happy and lively society simulation game. But if the grim nature of Frostpunk interests you, you should definitely try it out.
- Initial Release Date: 24 April 2018
- Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
- Publisher: 11 Bit Studios
- Developer: 11 Bit Studios
7. RollerCoaster Tycoon
Ah, RollerCoaster Tycoon. Even if someone hasn’t heard of any other best tycoon games, they have surely heard of this one. This classic series involves building and management of an amusement park. Players can customize unique roller coasters and create other thrilling rides with the intention of improving the park’s value and attracting more and more guests to it.
You can either set up an amusement park from scratch with the money you have or take up the task of redeveloping a ready-built park suffering from bad management, planning and deterioration. You need to keep all the rides safe though, because if you open a poorly-built ride to the public, you will see that instead of a thrill machine, your roller coaster has become a killing machine. RollerCoaster Tycoon presents its players a wide variety of problems which come with owning an amusement park business but all in all, it makes for a wonderful ride.
- Initial Release Date: 29 November 2018 (Switch), 22 December 2016 (Mac, PC)
- Platforms: PC, Mac, Switch
- Publisher: Atari, Epic Games
- Developer: Origin8 Technologies
Megaquarium is a relaxing tycoon game which doesn’t have a tsunami hitting you or give you an impending sense of dread. But that’s not to say that it’s dull. It does have its fair share of challenges. Megaquarium lets you design enclosures for a lot of underwater creatures (like crabs, sea turtles, sharks and other fish) and also lets you provide maintenance for the same. So, if looking after fish in an aquarium is your choice of business, Megaquarium is the game for you.
Making sure that your aquarium’s inhabitants get food, safety, proper heating, filtration and other requirements forms a big part of this game. If you neglect these, you will end up with irreparable damages. In this game, you won’t just have to keep the creatures happy – you have to impress the guests too. Adding facilities like toilets, food and drinks area and vending machines will do the trick. Eventually, the list of fish and creatures will grow, giving you much more to work with in Megaquarium.
- Initial Release Date: 13 September 2018
- Platforms: PC, Mac, Linus, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch
- Publisher: Twice Circled, Auroch Digital
- Developer: Twice Circled, Auroch Digital
5. Capitalism Lab
Capitalism is one of the most popular names in the tycoon game circles. Becoming the most profitable business (and the best business tycoon) in the world is the main goal of players in this strategy game. You will enter a competitive world with different corporations vying for profits. Players have to focus on every aspect of business such as marketing, setting up factories, manufacturing, importing etc to succeed in this world. Capitalism Lab is an expanded version of Capitalism II, which was released in 2012.
- Initial Release Date: 14 December 2012
- Platforms: PC, Mac
- Publisher: Ubisoft
- Developer: Enlight
4. Software Inc
Software Inc lets you run your very own software company with the mindset of becoming a big deal in the digital world some day. Like any other business, you start off small in this game by hiring a few skilled programmers in your tiny office. You have to put your employees’ needs first and so you must construct roads for easy commute, enhance their knowledge and skills, tend to their demands individually and as a team and make sure that that they are satisfied with their job. Soon, you will start creating your own software products which will rake in the moolah. Software Inc basically gives you every resource that you need to become a successful tech giant but whether you manage to do it or end up completely bankrupt depends on you.
- Initial Release Date: 1 May 2015
- Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
- Publisher: Coredumping
- Developer: Coredumping
3. Stardew Valley
In this role-playing farming simulation game, players take on the role of a character who receives control of their deceased grandfather’s farm in a place called Stardew Valley. Set in a rural world, players can perform tasks like growing crops, raising livestock, selling farm produce, mining and lots more. You don’t start off with a blank slate in this game. Instead you get a farm full of weeds, stumps, trees etc. Everything is in shambles. Players need to work to get the farm in good condition again while aiming to generate revenue and expand the farm’s facilities. Not only this, players can also get into relationships with other characters (NPC) which can lead to marriage and even children. With the multiplayer option, awesome gameplay, great visuals and soundtrack, this game has a lot to offer. Even though at its core it is a tycoon game, the emotional element really makes it much more than just that.
- Initial Release Date: 26 February 2016
- Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux, PlayStation 4, PS Vita,Xbox One, Switch
- Publisher: ConcernedApe, Chucklefish
- Developer: ConcernedApe
2. Two Point Hospital
This isn’t your average hospital simulation game – this game is whimsical and weird and that’s why we love it! The seriousness of being in a hospital is tackled by adding funny ailments, bizarre characters and situations. In this game, you play the role of a hospital manager of Two Point Hospital with a mission of constructing and maintaining a hospital which has all the amenities and facilities. Hiring doctors, nurses and janitors is a part of your job and so is curing illnesses. Here’s the twist – when patients come to your hospital with ailments, such as lightheadedness, they come with a light bulb as a head. Some patients die and become ghosts that terrify anyone else who sees them. Yup, we did mention that things get weird in here! Side note: You can also check out Two Point Campus which has similar gameplay.
- Initial Release Date: 29 August 2018
- Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch
- Publisher: Sega
- Developer: Two Point Studios, Bullfrog Productions
1. Game Dev Tycoon
Game Dev Tycoon is one of the best tycoon games you will find. It has a similar concept as Software Inc, but this is about building a game development company. You begin in the early 1980s, sitting in your garage as the sole game developer with just a computer at your disposal. As you create games, they get sold and reviewed. Gradually, your skills improve, new consoles are released, you sell more games, move to new office locations and hire employees. You will need to keep an eye on the market trends and give enough time to research before going into full production, otherwise you could end up creating low quality games that are roasted by reviews making you lose your business eventually.
- Initial Release Date: 10 December 2012
- Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
- Publisher: Greenheart Games, Headup Games
- Developer: Greenheart Games
A list of best tycoon games is incomplete without the mention of SimCity. SimCity has proven to be a groundbreaking game in the genre of city building and has generated many copies from other developers. It’s an open-ended city-building game series which was initially released in 1989. The premise is simple – develop a city from a patch of bare land. Players need to thoughtfully incorporate all the essential infrastructure like roads, power plants, recreational activity centers, landmarks, hospitals and fire stations. Once you build your city, you will need to maintain it so that your people are happy and content. The creators of SimCity have developed many new versions and spin-offs that you can check out as well.
- Initial Release Date: 5 March 2013
- Platforms: PC, Mac
- Publisher: Electronic Arts
- Developer: Maxis Emeryville
So this is our list of the top tycoon games for PC, Mac, Linux and consoles you can easily download and play. Do check out our News section for the latest updates on video games.