8 of the Best Tycoon Games Ever Made

Tycoon, simulation, and management games are all strangely addictive. Odds are that at least one of the games on this list has grabbed you at some point in your life, and that you’ve sunk countless hours into it. If you’re a fan of the genre, or you just want top give it a try, any of these eight games would be a great place to start.

Think we missed one? Let us know what it is in the comments!


Most RPGs have you taking on dungeons and then selling your take to a shopkeeper, but Recettear turns that around. By day, you are a young girl running an item shop in a random town full of NPCs in an attempt to pay off the debt your father left you when he disappeared. By night, you’ll head into randomly generated dungeons to refill your shop’s inventory. The idea of running an in-game story might sound boring, but Recettear makes it a lot of fun.

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Railroad Tycoon

Designed the legendary Sid Meier, Railroad Tycoon tasks you with building and managing a railroad company. You’ll lay track, construct new stations, and basically keep the trains running on time. Winning the game requires you to balance the hauling of both passengers and freight, as well as buying and selling stocks in your company and others. If you can manage to keep the cash flowing and the trains running, you’ll end up a winner. It’s a bit dated, but it still holds up pretty well today.

Theme Hospital

If you’re looking to show off your talents at running a health care operation, Theme Hospital is for you. You’ll go from one hospital to the next, building them up to attract patients. You’ll be judged on how much money you make, how many patients you cure, and the reputation of your hospital. Once you succeed there, you’ll move on to bigger and bigger hospitals, with more challenging goals. It’s full of dark humor and fictional ailments, and it’s a darn good time.


In 1994, SimTower put players in charge of of a large skyscraper. You’ll build a number of different types of facilities in the tower, including offices, hotel rooms, restaurants, and stores. By keeping stress for the tenants low, you can increase your star rating, which lets you expand your tower. Terrorist threats, VIP visits, and even visits from Santa Claus can happen at your tower. It’s extremely similar to Tiny Tower, the iOS / Android title that’s been fairly successful of late.


Ever thought you could do a heck of a job running your own banana republic (not the store, an island)? Well, that’s what the Tropico series lets you do. You’ll harvest resources, pres the locals into service, and negotiate shady deals with the rest of the world to keep the trade routes moving normally. It’s a series that’s full of tongue-in-cheek humor and one-off references to real-world politics, and it’s a hell of a lot of fun. Plus, you can get a super cool dictator hat and sunglasses.


Despite the stumble that came in 2013, the SimCity franchise has been a fixture in gaming for well over a decade. As the mayor of a city, you’ll build it up and improve it while trying to keep your citizens happy. You’ll need to provide plenty of job opportunities, places to live, and leisure activities to do this, and sometimes a natural disaster (or an unnatural one) will still ruin your day. It’s the game that defined the city sim branch of the tycoon genre for years.

Dungeon Keeper

Dungeon Keeper basically flipped the standard fantasy RPG script. Instead of heading into a dungeon to clear out the evil monsters and claim the treasure, you take control of the evil monsters. You’ll construct your dungeon and its infrastructure, adding monsters, mining gold, and expanding your holdings. You’ll also need to defeat those pesky heroes that seem intent on invading your peaceful dungeon and wreaking havoc. It’s a game that has been often imitated, but few games have ever come close to matching it.

Roller Coaster Tycoon

Speaking of games that will suck your life away when you’re not looking, here’s Roller Coaster Tycoon. All you need to do is successful construct, decorate, and manage your own theme park. Simple, right? Well, maybe not. Simply building a park full of pre-made rides is challenging enough, especially with a limited budget. Add in the maintenance, cleaning, and everything else required, and you’ll find your hands full. It’s a series that has managed to be solid in every entry, and it’s one of my personal all-time-favorites. It’s got a new multiplayer installment, Roller Coaster Tycoon World, scheduled to release next year.

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