The Best Tycoon Games of All Time

In the day before we could afford actual games, it was easy to walk into the local bargain shop, see one of the many popular tycoon games sitting on the 5$ shelf. I in my infinite wisdom would spend all my allowance on these games, to play them for a collected two hours before deciding I probably did not have the business mind to run a roller coaster park, or zoo. As I got older I forgot all about tycoon games, and started playing better titles. I have to say however, unlike a lot of Triple A titles, I never get bored of playing a good game of roller coaster tycoon. If anything I like them more now, then I ever did as a kid. Back then I played them out of necessity, now I play them because I truly enjoy creating a successful enterprise, and then running it into the ground.

This is the Top 10 Best Tycoon Games of All Time, or At Least in My Opinion.

So what qualifies as a tycoon game? Really anything that includes business management, so expect games to vary more from your classic roller coaster and zoo tycoons.


10. Prison Architect

Prison Architect

Once they fix this games numerous problems, and finish adding some desperately needed features this game will be much higher on this list. As it stands however, Prison Architect is still fun enough to get the #10 spot. As far as the tycoon genre goes, this is a very creative title. The game trusts you with building and managing a high security prison. You will have to have incredible foresight, in where you place certain rooms, to make sure your prison is as secure as possible, and to keep your prisoners happy. Unhappy prisoners riot, and if you’re prison is just starting off a riot is very difficult to control, and could ruin everything you have built up until this point. You will have to be aware of the money you’re making vs how much you need to run your prison. Prisoners arrive all the time, so make sure you always have extra cells. Temporary cells are a great place to keep prisoners before you move them into there own cells. The game does a fair job of guiding you, by telling you which rooms need building and why. Ultimately you are the boss, and the decisions are up to you. A poorly built prison can lead to your demise, so choose carefully.

9. Sid Meyers Railroad Tycoon

railroad tycoon

When I spoke of games too complex for my young mind, this one was on the list. This game is fairly  big considering its genre. It even includes a stock market to indicate demands for goods. When I was 7 I did not even know what a stock market was, making this one of the most complex titles on the list. If you can get past all of the sub menus dying for your attention than this is an entertaining game to play for hours on end as you build your railroad empire.

8. Sim City

Sim city

As far as city management games go, Sim City is remains one of the best. Even with all of the problems the plagued the newest installment of the game in 2013. The first Sim City game was introduced in 1989 making it one of the longest running series’ in gaming history, and It doesn’t look like it will be going anywhere’s. EA will likely continue to pump out Sim City games, and other spin offs until people suddenly decide the prospect of running an entire city, while also keeping citizens happy, and avoiding natural disasters like giant monsters is no longer fun.

7. Zoo Tycoon

zoo tycoon

No not the Xbox One game, though that one looks pretty fun. Zoo Tycoon is a classic park style Tycoon game. You try to bring in as many customers as possible, while keeping the park clean, and fun. Unlike Roller coaster Tycoon, you’re animals also need to be fed, and kept happy. Good luck pleasing everyone in this easy to play zoo manager.

6. Game Dev Tycoon

Game Dev tycoon

Oh but it copied Game Dev Story, its just a rip off, blah blah blah, Im addicted to nostalgia, am unable to evolve, and I cannot enjoy newer titles that improve on the same basic concept, blah blah blah. Yes Game Dev Tycoon is not even close to an original game, it copies directly from Game Dev Story. That being said I enjoy playing Game Dev Tycoon much more. Its prettier, less complex, and I can sink an entire night into this game. Plus the original concept is still there, you run a small video game company, and with hard work build it to be larger and more influential. You can pick this title up on steam, but if you’re looking to play the original Game Dev Story, its now available on IOS devices.

5. Cities in Motion

cities in motion

This title takes itself a little bit more seriously, I hope you’re a responsible citizen because you’ve been put in charge of improving the transportation systems in several major cities, plus all the cities they added in expansions. The player is rewarded for efficiency, and ease of access. Don’t forget you’ve been brought in to improve the transportation, not send a train in an endless circle.

4. Recettear


This game found it self on the steam top sellers list for a short spell, and it deserves it. This game is inexplicably fun, it evolves the tycoon genre, and somehow turned it into an RPG at the same time. In this game the main character seeks to repay a debt left by her father to a bank of sorts. The bank sends a fairy representative who oversees you while you attempt to repay the debt. You have payments every week, and if you cannot pay at the end then the game restarts, leaving you with all the items you collected the last play through. You repay the debt by opening a shop, and selling items. However the game runs a day cycle, selling at the shop uses a quarter of your day. Its best to use some of your day to buy, and dungeon crawl for more items. The game adapts to any cheeky gimmick you might find as well, if you sell too much of one type of product the price will decrease significantly. It took my 2 weeks to complete the game, and while I got very frustrated the game is forgiving enough that anyone can play it.

3. Theme Hospital

hospital theme

Isn’t it fun to run a fake hospital, with fake doctors, treating fake patients, with fake diseases. This game came very close to being pulled off shelves in some countries for making light of disease, and other ailments. But what can you do when the diseases being treated in Theme Hospital are not even real. This game is silly, hilarious, and lots of fun. A great game for a rainy day.

2. Basement

drug tycoon

Basement is basically breaking bad, in this game you play as a desperate teacher who turns to drugs. Sound familiar? Honestly this game is just pure fun, build your drug empire, and channel your true Walter White. There’s no reason not to play this game, it is fun.

1. Roller Coaster Tycoon 1-3


Often considered the very best of all the tycoon games, in Roller Coaster Tycoon you’re put in charge of an amusement park. You manage staff, paths, and rides among many other things. Building the most efficient and ginormous park is every players goal. That is if you’re goal isn’t to trap all the innocent attendees in a giant pit of death. A popular choice among many players.

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