It takes a ton of intelligence, careful planning, and pure luck to run a successful business or rule over a sizable population. While it may take years and years of real-world training in the areas of collegiate studies and on-the-job training to be afforded such an important position, there are a wealth of games that can test out your skills in that role without having to jump through those aforementioned hoops. The best tycoon games tend to make you the boss of your very own theme park, bustling city, farm, hospital, and so much more. Whether you're in the mood to run your own prison or even a country, the 16 games we're set to mention here provide those experiences in the most satisfying and addictive ways possible.
The 16 Best Tycoon Games of All Time
Best Tycoon Games
1. ‘RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic’
The RollerCoaster Tycoon series is the undisputed GOAT of the entire construction and management simulation genre. RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic is a remastered take on the first two games in the series that combines the best features of both titles and presents them within a comprehensive package that fans look to as the gold standard. The fun derived from this game comes from crafting your own massive theme park, managing its staff, keeping its patrons pleased with their experience, and building your custom roller coasters. Major kudos to game designer Chris Sawyer for giving birth to one of the best tycoon games we've ever played!
2. ‘Cities: Skylines - Remastered’
Cities Skyline has come such a long way from its original 2015 release. In the years since it rose above Electronic Arts' 2013 SimCity game, Colossal Order's prized city-builder has embraced a day-night cycle, winter-themed elements, a football stadium, the scary presence of natural disasters, and tons more elements that fill out its huge customization suite. The remastered version of this release is the one we prefer the most - besides your usual array of performance enhancements and other quality-of-life improvements, this improved version of the game gifts players with a building area of up to 25 tiles, which helps them build something even grander within their digital dream city.
3. ‘Planet Zoo’
Both Zoo Tycoon games pretty much laid down the blueprint for Frontier Developments' very own take on the zoo-building classics. And in the process, Planet Zoo does everything those previous games did but so much better. This much preferred spiritual successor puts you in charge of maintaining a wildlife conservation center jam-packed with animals that have amazingly realistic AI behaviors that are similar to their real-life counterparts. Once you wrap your head around all the systems and complexities attached to them, you'll have all the fun in the world as you construct comfortable habitats for your assorted animals and keep visitors entertained with your zoo's creative presentation.
4. ‘Jurassic World Evolution 2’
Now imagine everything you loved about Planet Zoo, but its creature population was filled with ancient dinosaurs that have somehow been brought back to life. Jurassic World Evolution 2 does a stellar job at relying on that concept in video game form and is a worthy follow-up to its predecessor. This sequel moves away from the first game's hub world set on an archipelago and instead moves it to various biomes contained within the United States. What sets this game apart from tycoon games of its ilk is its focused campaign and trademark "Chaos Theory" modes, which lets players do all their dinosaur theme park management with story threads pushing them along their journey. Of course, there's also a ton of fun to be had in birthing, raising, and maintaining 75 prehistoric species in this game's "Sandbox Mode."
5. ‘Planet Coaster’
Developer Frontier Developments has made its welcome return to this list of the best tycoon games. And for this next game inclusion, the studio's highly lauded theme park builder that feels like a natural progression of everything fans loved about the RollerCoaster Tycoon series is getting the nod here. Planet Coaster gives you the freedom to build a theme park full of hyperfast coasters and thrill-seeking park patrons. This game's deep customization suite is strengthened by the ability to actually reshape the land your theme park is laid upon. Planet Coaster's Sandbox Mode variation is a blast, but the true challenge lies in its Career Mode - we certainly met the high expectations that mode required of us and became the finest theme park manager there ever was!
6. ‘Surviving Mars’
They got city builders for outer space? Yep! And one of the top picks for us and many tycoon gaming fanatics out there is this one. Surviving Mars incorporates legit Martian data to bring players the closest real-world interpretation of the red, dusty planet in video game form. And while you inhabit Mars, you'll be entrusted with heavy colonization, gaining support from the space agency of your choice, and building as much infrastructure as possible in order to keep your planet dwellers safe and happy. Turning a plant unfit for humans into a blossoming space colony filled with retro-futuristic superstructures is a transformation act that's super engrossing.
7. ‘Two Point Hospital’
Being entrusted with building a small hospital into a top-of-the-line medical facility that's always bustling with happy patients and staff is the name of the game here in Two Point Hospital. This Sega-published and Two Points Studios-developed hospital building/managing simulator is great due to a number of factors, which include its charming art style, strong gameplay foundation, and extra sense of hilarity. Being tasked with caring for people that have been stricken with odd diseases such as "Premature Mummification" and "8-bitten" is pretty hilarious. It takes a lot to keep a hospital operation up and running - thankfully, Two Point Hospital makes all that hard work a bit more lively and humorous.
8. ‘Two Point Campus’
The same publishing/developing duo behind Two Point Hospital applied their expertise to another one of the best tycoon games. And for that follow-up, players are put in the position of building and managing one's very own university campus. With all the hurdles that come with running a college institution comes a lot of big decisions to make, such as which classes to organize for your student body and which staff members you should appoint to your school. We're so glad Two Point Campus injects the same sort of humor and visual flair Two Point Hospital features. Assigning outlandish courses to your staff and students such as "Wizardry," "Cheese-Moongery," and "Funny Business" helps this game produce an amusingly good time for players everywhere.
9. ‘Game Dev Tycoon’
Imagine having to recreate the history-making moments that have turned the video game industry into the multimillion-dollar entertainment medium it is today. Game Dev Tycoon found a fun way to dive into the interesting proposition in the form of a really cool business simulator. In this one, players get the chance to turn their small garage operation into a monumental development studio. It feels so good to see your hard-working game development team make all sorts of genre releases for consoles that are obvious nods to real systems (avoiding trademark issues by having console names like the "PlaySystem" and "mBox" is quite clever!).
Instead of being thrown into the leadership role of a business tycoon that runs their own theme park or zoo, Megaquariam actually challenges you to properly run a bustling aquarium. Everything you'd expect from a game centered around building and managing a public aquarium is here, of course - choosing the right types of fish to put on display, tending to their daily needs, setting up your display, and keeping close tabs on your staff are central to your success. Thankfully, tending to all those duties never grows dull.
11. ‘Software Inc.’
After playing Software Inc., we totally felt like we could step into Bill Gates' shoes! And that's because this game sets you up as the big boss of a hardware and software development company, which is a very unique concept that matches up extremely well with the tycoon game concept. After constructing a series of buildings that have the best working conditions possible, you'll put your experienced staff to work to create the best tech the world has ever gotten its hands on. Competing with your AI competition here truly makes you feel like the ultimate tech company tycoon.
We'll always appreciate Satisfactory for going for utilizing a different gameplay viewpoint when it comes to presenting its own spin on tycoon games. From a first-person perspective, players are dropped onto an alien planet where they can engage in plenty of exploring and combat-focused segments. And on top of all that, there's a whole lot of time devoted to building factories, outfitting them with a working lineup of conveyor belts, and putting the resources you find during your excursions to good use. The fun factor for this game is extra high since you can do everything we just mentioned with a fellow space traveler close by.
13. ‘Stardew Valley’
Thanks to the outstanding work of Eric "ConcernedApe" Barone, fans of Harvest Moon have the perfect spiritual successor to that famous farming life simulator to bask in. Stardew Valley lets its players live out the relatively tranquil life of a humble farmer that's responsible for renovating their grandfather's plot of land and keeping his home intact. As you rejuvenate your farming expanse, you'll get to take on side quests, go fishing, and even mingle with the friendly community of "Pelican Town". You might even get married to one of them! This soothing farming experience is the best one out there when you consider its placement among the best tycoon games worth getting addicted to.
Does anyone remember the Fox network space western series that got canceled way too soon, Firefly? If you're old enough to be among the folks that cherish that show, then RimWorld will appeal to you in a major way. This top-tier construction and management simulator puts you in command of building and developing sci-fi colonies across different biomes, such as the forest, desert, jungle, tundra, and more. The narrative contained within this game is exceptionally strong thanks to the presence of an AI storyteller that pays attention to various elements in order to keep things interesting. The colonists at the heart of RimWorld are integral to your successes, failures, and storyline developments.
15. ‘Prison Architect’
Now we realize being fully tapped into the responsibilities tied to being a prison warden is frightening. Prison Architect makes it a bit more joyful yet still demanding since this job is far from easy. The simple yet endearing art style of this game caught our attention, while the insanity that comes with putting your prison's security systems to the ultimate test in "Escape Mode." Carefully investing in your prison and keeping it as safe as possible while sticking to ethical practices is a tall task - rising to the occasion here to meet those goals is worth performing in this Prison Architect.
16. ‘Tropico 6’
And to top of this list of the best tycoon games of all time, we're going to showcase the international flavor of the construction, management, and political simulator Tropico 6. This series has always focused on handling the fruitful operations tied to the fictional Caribbean island nation of "Tropico." The main character dubbed "El Presidente" comes back to the forefront and this time, players get to rule over multiple islands as the ultimate dictator himself. Bringing your archipelagos to modern-day prominence through technological and societal advancements is cool and all, but we have way more fun stealing global monuments and making them our very own personal landmarks.
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