17 Best Business Simulation Games Of 2024 | Learn Economic And Strategy

Are you on the lookout for great business strategy games to learn a thing or two about business and get a grip on microeconomics? Well, you’ve come to the right place!

Learning through hands-on experience is proven to be one of the most effective ways to gain valuable knowledge. It replicates real-world situations through activities like reading, watching live demonstrations, and practical exercises.

The ultimate aim of any strategy game, especially those related to business, is to help players understand different aspects of business and provide them with a unique opportunity to step into the shoes of a business tycoon, city planner, or industry magnate. 

In this article, I’ve listed some of the best business simulation games rated from medium to advanced level. They go beyond the conventional boundaries of gaming, offering an immersive experience that fosters strategic thinking, decision-making prowess, and a deep understanding of economic and managerial concepts.

Did you know? 

Several studies show that students who played educational simulation games outperformed their peers in traditional lecture-based classes.

17. Offworld Trading Company

Platform: Windows and Mac
Price: $29.99

Offworld Trading Company is a real-time strategy game that focuses on economic strategy and resource management. The game is set on Mars, where various organizations compete for dominance through economic means. 

As the player, you step into the shoes of a CEO of a Martian corporation. Your goal is to build a profitable and sustainable business on the red planet by utilizing its resources like minerals and water. 

The success of your business hinges on decisions related to resource extraction and processing. You must adapt your strategies to cope with changing conditions, such as market crashes, economic downturns, and environmental disasters.

16. Stardew Valley 

Platform: Windows | Mac | PlayStation | Xbox | Android | iOS 
Price: $10

Stardew Valley is an indie farming simulation role-playing game. You begin by inheriting a run-down farm from your grandfather. Your role is to restore the farm, plant and harvest crops, raise animals, and manage resources to expand and improve the farm over time.

The game places a significant emphasis on building relationships with the residents of Pelican Town, the neighboring community. Engage in conversations, offer gifts, and take part in various social activities to foster connections.

Launched in 2016, the game quickly gained immense popularity for its stunning retro-style graphics, impressive gameplay, and its blend of farming, exploration, and social interactions. 

15. Factorio 

Platform: Windows | Mac | Linux | Switch
Price: $35 

Factorio challenges you to design and manage efficient automated systems to build and expand a factory on an alien planet. You start with basic resources and gradually automate the production of complex items, such as conveyor belts and robots, using various components and production chains. 

And since you are on an alien planet inhabited by hostile creatures, you must design automated turret systems, walls, and other defensive measures to protect your factory from alien attacks

As you progress in the game, you encounter optimization challenges. You have to balance production ratios and minimize bottlenecks. 

14. Industry Giant II

Image Courtesy: MobyGames

Platform: Windows | Xbox | PlayStation 
Price: $7.99

Drawing inspiration from other business-oriented games such as Capitalism and Transport Tycoon, as well as city-building games like Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom, etc., Industry Giant II places the player in charge of the manufacturing and distribution of a company’s products against a 20th-century backdrop.

The objective is to maximize profits from these operations. There’s a ‘free game’ option where you can explore without the pressure of profits, adding an interesting twist to the experience when money is not a concern.

While Industry Giant II is marketed as a business simulation game, it lacks several crucial aspects like HR and finance.

13. Airline Tycoon

Platform: Windows | Mac | Linux | Android | iOS
Price: Free | Deluxe version costs $9,99

Airline Tycoon is one of the oldest business simulation games in existence. Originally released for Windows in 1988, a Deluxe version was later developed for Mac OS X and Linux.

Like all the other tycoon games, the main objective is pretty simple – to become filthy rich, a Tycoon. And the only way to do so is by maintaining a healthy relationship between income and expenditure.

12. Transport Tycoon

Platform: MS-DOS | Mac | PlayStation | Android | iOS
Price: $6.99

Transport Tycoon shares similarities with the previously mentioned Airline Tycoon. In this game, you compete with rival companies to maximize profits by transporting passengers and various goods through road, rail, sea, and air routes.

The objective is to outperform competitors in the transportation business and build a thriving, lucrative enterprise.

11. Victoria II

Platform: Windows | Mac
Price: $4.99

Victoria II will take you on a century-long journey from 1836 to 1936, allowing you to take control of one of the 200 playable nations.

The game emphasizes the economic aspect, featuring a reasonably complex market system with 50 different types of goods. It also focuses on internal management, industrialization, and socio-political changes/aspects in a country.

10. Port Royale: Gold, Power, and Pirates

Image Courtesy: Port Royale

Platform: Windows

If you’re intrigued by the business style of pirates, I’ve got the perfect game for you. Port Royal is a business simulation set in the 16th and 17th centuries, primarily in the Caribbean.

The game combines real-time battles with business and economic simulation, offering players numerous in-game options, including the possibility of trading with pirates.

9. Theme Hospital

Image Courtesy: Theme Hospital

Platform: Windows | MS-DOS | PlayStation
Price: $5.99

In Theme Hospital, you own and manage a hospital with the goal of turning it into a profitable business. This unique business simulation game challenges players to cure patients with fictional illnesses while ensuring the hospital’s financial success.

It also introduces unexpected events, such as epidemics and emergencies, challenging you to adapt quickly to unforeseen circumstances. Successfully handling emergencies improves your hospital’s reputation.

Theme Hospital’s quirky art style and comical animations contribute to its charm, making it an enjoyable experience for players of all ages. In many ways, it follows in the footsteps of Theme Park, another management simulation game developed by Bullfrog Productions.

8. simCEO

Platform: Browser-based

In simCEO, your task is to establish your company and participate in a dynamic stock market where you oversee your independent investment portfolio. The game involves two key entities: instructors, who shape an ideal market learning environment, and learners.

Within this environment and guided by announcements, your role is to assess different companies before deciding to invest in them. Whether competing in teams or individually, simCEO facilitates high-quality social learning for tackling a range of business-related challenges.

7. MobLab

Platform: Browser-based
Price: Starts at $12 per student

MobLab is a thriving online company that offers interactive learning games to individuals and universities. 

Founded by Caltech students, MobLab presents a range of theories in areas such as economics, psychology, and business administration, spanning from simple to complex.

Whether you’re exploring fundamental concepts like supply and demand or delving into more advanced topics like asset markets, MobLab provides videos and games to help you grasp almost every major concept.

6. Railroad Tycoon II

Platform: Windows | Mac | Linux| PlayStation
Price: $5.99

Railroad Tycoon II is the third installment in the popular Railroad Tycoon series, released for the first time in the United States in 1998. The game covers all the significant events in the history of rail transportation.

As a Chairman of the railroad company, your task is to double the profits for investor benefits while dealing with mishaps like train breakdowns, robberies, economic downturns, etc.

A critical element in this game is how well the player can manage a healthy ratio between expenses and earnings by choosing the right locomotive for the right job, as every engine possesses unique attributes like speed, preferred cargo, and the ability to pace through the mountain or steep hills.

5. Eve Online

Image Courtesy: CCP Games

Platform: Windows | Mac

Eve Online is a space-based MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) where players can participate in core activities like piracy, mining, manufacturing, trading, and combat.

Although not explicitly labeled as a business simulation game, its intricate economic and political interactions between players add a fascinating business perspective, making it uniquely interesting for some users.

4. OpenTTD

Platform: Windows | Mac | Android | Linux | FreeBSD 
Price: Free

OpenTTD is an open-source, multi-platform business simulation game where players aim to build their transport empire. The strategy involves managing and investing profits primarily derived from fares and goods transport.

Heavily influenced by the Transport Tycoon Deluxe (1995 Chris Sawyer video game), OpenTTD essentially replicates many features of the original. In this game, progression hinges on earning money by transporting passengers and goods using roads, railways, waterways, and airways.

It features customizable maps, custom AI, ports, and multilingual support. The game also allows for LAN and online multiplayer modes, enabling players to collaborate in groups.

3. Virtonomics

Platform: Browser-based
Price: Free

Virtonomics is a turn-based MMO online simulation game that focuses on the workings and principles of business within a competitive environment. 

With no set criteria for victory or defeat and an indefinite game time, players have the freedom to define their individual goals, relying on clever tactics and strategies.

One of the game’s standout features is its non-linear gameplay, allowing you to make decisions beyond a predetermined set of choices. As you compete for market share, you must navigate the game by making bold managerial decisions at every step of the way.

2. Capitalism II

Platform: Windows | Mac
Price: ‎$7.49

In today’s cutthroat corporate world, the challenges are immense, yet the rewards can be equally significant. While no computer simulation can fully replicate the complexity of real-world corporations, Trevor Chan’s Capitalism II comes close.

Much like Virtonomics, in this game, you take on the role of a player creating and managing a vast business empire. It encompasses every facet of real-life business, from manufacturing and marketing to purchasing, importing, and retailing.

Success depends on playing your cards right and making strategic decisions across the spectrum of business operations.

1. MIT Sloan Management Simulation Games

Platform: Browser-based

The MIT Sloan School of Management is one of the seven super-elite private schools for MBA programs standing alongside Harvard, Wharton, Chicago Booth, Columbia, Kellogg, and Stanford. It has always been an innovator among business teaching institutions, especially when it comes to learning. By creating real-world applications of classroom knowledge, they help students and participants learn their way to the top.

One of their modern educational tools is the use of management simulation games. And the best thing is these games are freely accessible to everyone.

Specifically tailored for students, these games serve as valuable tools for learning essential business tactics, real-world practices, and industry standards. Most importantly, they offer participants hands-on experience in management, illustrating how executive decisions ripple through the entire business chain.

More to Know 

What skills can you develop by playing business simulation games?

Business simulation games can help develop skills such as long-term strategy building, decision-making, resource management, and financial literacy. It also fosters entrepreneurial acumen by encouraging innovation, risk-taking, and the ability to identify and capitalize on market trends.

Open-source business simulation games  

Although open-source games are not as prevalent as commercial titles, a few noteworthy projects give you the opportunity to explore business and economic concepts in a free and collaborative environment: 

  • OpenTTD: Open Transport Tycoon Deluxe lets you manage a transportation company. Your role is to build and manage transport networks to facilitate the movement of goods and passengers.
  • Simutrans: It lets you establish and manage large transportation networks, including roads, railways, and waterways, while also engaging in city planning. 
  • OpenCity: This game allows you to manage various aspects of urban development, including infrastructure, zoning, and resource allocation. 
  • OpenDungeons: While OpenDungeons primarily focuses on managing dungeons and creatures, it includes economic and resource management elements as you strive to build a formidable dungeon empire.
Online Simulation Games Market Size

According to Allied Market Research, the global gaming simulation market is expected to surpass $20.76 billion by 2030, growing at a CAGR of about 15%. 

This growth is fueled by the increasing demand for VR headsets and the widespread adoption of gaming simulation for training and analysis across different industries. Additionally, ongoing advancements in graphics, artificial intelligence (AI), and virtual reality (VR) contribute to enhancing the realism of gaming simulations.

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Written by
Bipro Das

I am a content writer and researcher with over seven years of experience covering all gaming and anime topics. I also have a keen interest in the retail sector and often write about the business models/strategies of popular brands.

I started content writing after completing my graduation. After writing tech-related things and other long-form content for 2-3 years, I found my calling with games and anime. Now, I get to find new games and write features and previews.

When not writing for RankRed, I usually prefer reading investing books or immersing myself in Europa Universalis 4. But I am currently interested in some new JRPGs as well.

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