In many ways, Game Dev Tycoon is the perfect modern tycoon game. If you’re looking for an example of a game that perfectly manages to streamline the clunkiest trappings of its genre without dumbing anything down, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better example.
The way that Game Dev Tycoon managed to (ironically) gamify the process of designing games and running a game development studio is one of the industry’s most heartwarming success stories.
Greenheart Games is a tiny dev studio itself, and yet they’ve managed to offer us one of the greatest modern management sims.
Of course, even Game Dev Tycoon might have you itching for a new yet similar title after hundreds of hours of gameplay. With that in mind, here are the 9 best games like Game Dev Tycoon, including titles from all different genres.
While most people spend their gaming careers playing dashing heroes that save entire worlds from horrific monstrosities, there’s an entirely different niche filled with games like Game Dev Tycoon. In these games, your entire experience focuses someone adjacent to the action.
Winkeltje is one such game where you’re running a small shop that sells the items heroes need for their adventures. Classic RPG hero archetypes will strut in and out of your shop each day, and it’s your job to provide them with all kinds of RPG goods.
If this sounds like a shallow gameplay experience, don’t let it fool you. Winkeltje: The Little Shop actually provides you with an extensive bartering sim, where you can fiddle with everything from your shop’s layout to the plants you’ll grow in the garden for making potions with.
The complexity of the game is beautifully contrasted with a relaxing, charming tone; making it the ideal game for winding down while still giving you a challenge. It’s a great pick for fans of games like Game Dev Tycoon who want something more chilled.
Kardboard Kings: Card Shop Simulator
Our next pick is a game made in a similar vein to Winkeltje. Kardboard Kings. In Kardboard Kings: Card Shop Simulator, you’re playing as a collector obsessed with a particular trading card game and running their own shop.
As you serve a delightfully written variety of geeky clientele, you’ll have plenty of interesting things to do in the game, from buying and selling your trading card on fictional online marketplaces to building your own deck. And besides all that, your shop is frequently plagued by a mysterious thief that you’ll need to deal with.
As a proper nerd shop owner, you’ll also host tournaments and spend a lot of time managing your shop’s reputation among the game’s fandom. These tidbits make the game feel like a realistic simulator, as cartoonish and silly as its overall vibe is.
Also, compared to games like Game Dev Tycoon, Kardboard Kings is definitely a less complex experience, but a great one nonetheless.
Sure, running fantasy shops is all well and good, but many of us also like simulations that put us in the pilot’s seat (pun intended) of a realistic enterprise. With that in mind, our next pick is Airport CEO, a game that puts you in charge of a whole airport.
Like most airport sim games out there (and there’s a large number of them) Airport CEO doesn’t just task you with dealing with the day-to-day management of an airport. Instead, you’re also dealing with constructing new buildings and facilities while doing everything necessary to ensure your customers are happy.
In terms of the game’s visuals, Airport CEO goes in the direction of cartoonish yet clean graphics. It’s a visual delight that’s a few steps short of the silliness you’d see in Two Point Hospital or Two Point Campus, for instance.
Of course, the gameplay is experienced from a familiar RTS-like top-down perspective, which makes seeing and managing all of the aspects of your airport quite easy.
Our next pick will be quite familiar to any fans of older management games like the classic Theme Hospital. The same developers decided to return to their roots of creating decisively charming hospital management games, and Two Point Hospital is the result.
Like most other titles in the tycoon genre, Two Point Hospital is about creating and running an efficient hospital. However, the folks behind this game decided to tackle one of the biggest problems that tycoon management games face: a lack of character and memorability.
As well-designed as their underlying economic simulations are, these games are often dreary, bland affairs, but that’s a pitfall Two Point Hospital avoids in spades. Every single aspect of the game has a humorous undertone, from the hilariously grumpy staff to the extensive list of fictional and ridiculous ailments.
Now, if you’re a beginner at this type of game, don’t let the funny exterior fool you. Two Point Hospital comes with a challenging learning curve. It’s not difficult enough to lose its mainstream appeal, but you’ll still have to put some thinking into its higher levels.
And once you’ve had enough of Two Point Hospital, you should also keep in mind that the same devs have been working on Two Point Campus as well. In that game, you manage an entire campus of students and their classes! It’s a lot of fun.
For a gamer, there’s no bigger thrill than designing and putting together a PC of your own. And just like with any other handiwork, there’s a strangely soothing sensation that comes with that process. Sometimes, it’s more relaxing than actually playing something on a PC.
The folks behind PC Building Simulator understood that feeling well and wanted to give us a way to experience it without spending money on brand new PC parts. And yes, a game about building a PC is just about as meta as a game about designing games, which makes it a perfect pick after some time spent with games like Game Dev Tycoon.
You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the astounding level of detail that this game provides. Not only do you have access to real-world, name-brand PC parts, but you can also spend hours dealing with every last meticulous detail regarding the building process itself. This is truly one of the best building games on Steam right now.
In fact, PC Building Simulator is realistic enough that plenty of people have reported buying it solely to test their configurations before buying the parts, or just learning how to build a PC in the first place.
And it’s not just a pure simulator either. The game puts you in the shoes of a computer hardware store owner. So, you’ll spend your time fixing other people’s computers and building specific configurations for fictional clients.
We do have to point out that, even with the numerous DLCs, the client repair and diagnosis section isn’t as fleshed out as we’d like. But when you consider the amazingly deep level of detail you have when it comes to the actual PC building, that seems like a small compromise to make to enjoy the overall experience.
The creators of Prison Architect didn’t just have an original idea for a tycoon management game. The visuals and gameplay of Prison Architect would go on to spawn countless imitations.
In fact, even heavy hitters like Rimworld started as a Dwarf Fortress clone that straight-up copied Prison Architect’s blueprint-esque graphics.
But enough about the visual style. What is this game actually about? Well, as the name suggests, you’ll spend the majority of your time building a prison. But unlike a real-world architect, your job here doesn’t end at the design phase.
In fact, you’ll spend the majority of your time in the role of a prison warden. You don’t just build the prison; you’re tasked with keeping it running as efficiently as possible. And despite the art style that comes off as silly and simplistic, the game is one of the most in-depth and complex management games out there.
It’s really a testament to the amazing UI design that the game is still as accessible as it is, with a relatively painless learning curve. The game devs have spent over a decade adding new features and content to the game, and it shows; you won’t run out of things to do and problems to solve in your prison for ages.
A lot of the fun of the game stems from the fact that every single person populating your prison is operates on an individual simulation, from the guards to the prisoners themselves. Each of them has their own needs, wants, and behavioral quirks, and just like in real life, these may result in riots and other unpredicted scenarios that constantly upend your game.
This game is the perfect pick if you’re after games like Game Dev Tycoon that have an intricate management system and decent level of difficulty to them.
Trust us, you probably haven’t played a game that’s as addictive as Factorio. And it’s one of the most lauded ones as well; Factorio actually has one of the most positive overall scores on Steam, even compared to games of wildly different genres.
So, what’s all the fuss about?
As Minecraft became increasingly popular, its older players found they had the most fun making complex contraptions with the game’s quasi-electrical Redstone system. And plenty of developers noticed that as well, probably including the folks behind Factorio.
Their next move was to create a crafting and survival game, but a far more high-tech one.
You find yourself stranded on an alien world. You’ve got the technology to survive; you just need to craft an increasingly automated factory that will extract all of the planet’s resources while protecting you from the aggressive local fauna.
However, be warned, the game’s learning curve (and general difficulty level) is much, much higher than that of Minecraft. This is definitely a title for people who aren’t afraid to sink their teeth into a game and spend a lot of time learning the ropes.
Games like Factorio are a great pick for fans of Game Dev Tycoon. This game is painstakingly detailed and incredibly rewarding to play.
Our next pick is the Doom of game development games (yep, that’s a mouthful) — Game Dev Story. It’s the first game in what’s now an entire subgenre of games about managing game studios and the game development process.
And if you’re looking for games like Game Dev Tycoon, this is about as close as you’ll get. In almost every way, Game Dev Tycoon took the basic gameplay loop of Game Dev Story and improved upon it, from the game design process to the pixelated graphics.
So, if Game Dev Tycoon is the improved version, why would you play this to begin with?
Well, Game Dev Story is a lot more relaxing; on the one hand, it doesn’t have some of Game Dev Tycoon’s expansive features, but on the other hand, it’s a lot easier to play. It’s a much more approachable title and one of the most laid back games like Game Dev Tycoon that you’ll find today.
Football Manager 2022
In many ways, Football Manager is the ultimate tycoon game series. It’s one of the longest-running annual franchises in gaming history, and it’s still successfully keeping the attention of its fan base throughout each year.
It’s easy to see why. We’re talking about the most in-depth simulation of a football club you can play. And best of all, it allows you to get into precisely as much detail as you like. You can leave a lot of the micromanagement to the game’s AI, or you can start working on individual training regimens for each player on your team.
Soccer fans particularly appreciate the fact that the franchise’s devs put a lot of effort into fidelity. Every year, their real-life scouts spend months researching every player in the world and portraying their stats as faithfully as possible within the game.
This is also the main justification for buying a new version of the game each year, along with a couple of notable gameplay differences. Football Manager 2022 is a worthwhile purchase for fans of games like Game Dev Tycoon who want something sporty and lifelike.