With the best business strategy video game, you might never need the services of a grey-haired business professor. Most importantly, you could learn practical skills without crashing under the mountainous fees of business school.
But then the game would have to be really good. This review looks at the best business strategy games that could get you closer to that reality that currently sounds like a dream.
Can Games Really Sharpen your Business Skills?
Most business schools run on teaching methods developed several decades ago. I am a product of that system, and like many graduates churned out half baked, in so many ways, I had to play catch up with the realities of the business world.
Then I came across a business simulation game. I am now a strategy game addict, with a couple of Difference Maker and Phenomenal Leadership awards to show for it.
Running a business in the modern world is never anything like what it entails in theory. Mastering the reality of setbacks, hindsight, and unpredictability in a business environment demands lots of experience.
This is where business strategy games come in handy with their practical simulations.
These gaming applications could furnish you with all the entrepreneurial skills you need in less than an hour. Proponents of simulative and practical learning argue that it is the most effective method of knowledge acquisition. Business strategy games are all that plus fun.
You can choose a video game that aligns with the industry or business idea you want to develop. There are games for managing railway companies, amusement packs, marketing, or airline management, among others.
All astute/aspiring business leaders should try strategy games for a good ‘cognitive workout.’
How to Find the Best Business Strategy Game
It should be structured around experiential learning
The aim of playing a business strategy game is to sharpen your wit when it comes to making business decisions, planning, managing a team, and whatnot. The best game should foster active learning; that is, learning by doing.
The best strategy game should feature puzzles and challenges of increasing complexity from one stage to the next. There should also be solution-driven activities with rewards (profits) and consequences (losses) for right calls and wrong moves.
The simulation should be as close as possible to a real-world experience
Strategy games are mostly used in management training. Naturally, a business leader would be heading a team, interacting with competitors, regulators, the board, and many other players. All such scenarios should be reflected in the game.
Aspects of the game could include production, marketing, client relations, CSR, and many others. Players should be able to learn to think and strategize, by realizing that no functional area in a company operates individually.
A winning strategy would naturally, therefore, be the one that considers the bigger picture.
Reinforces theoretical concepts but reframes minds
Good business strategy is based on an in-depth knowledge of the business environment, the markets, competition, and many other factors. This needs to be reflected in the game.
There should be non-linear paths leading to multiple outcomes. The game itself should be engaging and inspire an in-depth analysis of scenarios.
The controls, movement, and frame speed should all be in sync. The design and graphics should be pleasant too. A game with unresponsive controls or bad graphics would lose all meaning, even if the game plot is on point.
Original and unique
Before you buy a business strategy game, it would be wise to first asses it’s game-plot. It should be unique, exotic, and comprehensively map out the business environment that matches your real-life interests.
Unlike entertainment games, you may not necessarily need multiplayer modes in your strategy game.
Long story mode
An excellent business strategy game has an extended story mode for continuous learning. Consider a game that would let you advance from stage to stage as you expand your business empire. It should have clear character development and compelling level design, as well.
The more characters or business scenarios, the better—the game is only as interesting or as educative as the characters in the plot. The game should take you through broad concepts and allow you to experiment with different options in the achievement of your objectives.
The Best Strategy Games Available Today
1. Theme Hospital
Picture yourself in charge of a hospital. You are not only supposed to have a high rate of patient recovery but also to generate profits from the health center. That is the Theme Hospital is about.
An excellent hospital, in this case, would be well equipped with modern diagnostic tools, well-stocked pharmacies, and advanced facilities like operating theaters. Your staff should also excel at organizing and running this hospital.
Without a good strategy, your hospital won’t live up to the challenge. It will be shut down following a high number of patient deaths, either due to inadequate facilities, equipment, or staff.
As you would expect, a winning strategy will help you to thrive, turn a profit, and attain recognition from the Health Board.
After the recognition, you will be invited to take charge of a new hospital with even greater responsibilities and challenges.
The game progresses in this manner from one level to the next. I like the way it is uncomplicated yet involving at the same time. It can also be addictive and entertaining.
In the game, one is needed to devise a plan for keeping workers happy and ensuring patients receive better care. You will also have to plan for hospital cleaning, emergency medical situations, and compensation issues.
Theme Hospital Pros & Cons
- The game is simple and extensively mirrors a real hospital management situation
- It has challenging tasks as well, for instance, the hospital staff are never where they are supposed to be
- There is a time limit for solving medical emergencies just as in real life
- The game has excellent graphics
- The controls seem to be off; specific outcomes reoccur even after making adjustments
2. Game Dev Story
The video game industry wrecks in billions of dollars. However, without the right leadership, a game development company could also make huge losses. Game Dev Story builds around this concept and the brass to tacks of managing a game company.
This simulation game puts you in charge of an upcoming game studio with big goals. You are supposed to build from a few employees and expand to dozens. You are supposed to sell millions of games and eventually make your own game console.
Your significant role in this game would be designating tasks to the rightly skilled employees. The games they develop need to be top quality—they are judged by points in various categories. When your team finishes a game, you name it as you wish and unleash it into the world.
Outside, your game will receive several critiques and review scores. It can then go on to get low sales or be the best selling game in the industry. The idea is that you should get enough money from the sales to keep your company in business.
Your most significant decisions here include what genres of games to make, what platforms, and which marketing techniques to use. Overall, however, Game Dev Story might not be challenging enough for real-life gaming entrepreneurs.
Game Dev Story Pros & Cons
- It is entertaining and profound with responsibilities including marketing, HR and licensing among others
- There are clear sales charts for the market performance of your games
- The plot is continuous and pertinent to the real-life gaming industry
- The game is not as involving as Theme Hospital; in so many ways it plays itself
- It is not as rewarding either
3. Railroad Tycoon II
If you are vested or have future investment aspirations into the transport business, consider playing Railroad Tycoon 2. This strategy game covers all the significant events in the making of rail transportation.
Your work as the chairman of a Railroad Company will be to increase profits for your investors. You will have to work through economic downturns, robberies, and train breakdowns.
You have the liberty to spend your resources on building stations and acquiring new trains. There are maps for expanding your business to nearly all corners of the world. Your strategies here may include buying on margin or selling short.
The game has excellent graphics; the trains look real when zoomed in. There are geographical and historical details of the people, the cars, and the roads as well. There are also unique sound effects that make the game a near-accurate representation of the railroad era.
One can quickly identify the resources in the game, even those that are new to strategy games. There are accurately and graphically represented steel mills, coal mines, and farms. However, cattle and sheep look too much alike.
You can choose an era to play in. You can then focus on ruthless business moves, make lots of money, and push your competitors out of business. You can play around with settings such as changing the difficulty level of the game.
You could also tune up or down the level of competition you face in the business.
Railroad Tycoon II Pros & Cons
- Good graphics
- Solid game plot with inspiring rewards
- Unlimited missions with unexpected outcomes
- You get maps and industry flow charts to aid in your empire expansion
- You get to manage between expenses and earnings
- No tunnel constructions
- The game’s path detection AI seems to lag
4. Innov8 BPM Simulator
Innov8 BPM Simulator might be the ideal game to hone your business process management skills. The game revolves around being able to analyze and optimize business processes. The players get an insight into the different business models and the right strategies to turn a profit.
The levels of the game include:
Smarter Traffic: You are to identify and evaluate current traffic patterns, analyze metrics, and re-route traffic accordingly. The goal is to achieve a smoother and faster traffic flow in a busy city.
Smarter Customer Service: You will be in charge of a customer service call center agency. Your work is to identify the best paths for increased issue resolution and customer satisfaction.
Smarter Supply Chains: You will analyze an existing supply chain model and devise ways to balance the supply and demand while reducing the environmental impact.
All the above levels feature sustainability as one of the Key Progress Indicators (KPIs). In many ways, that adds a sense of realism to the game.
To come up with the best strategy for each scenario, you will go through processes such as:
- Gaining background information on the problem
- Analysis of the business need
- Process modeling
Innov8 BPM Simulator Pros & Cons
- It mirrors the complexities of business process management
- It has multiple player models; you can compete against other business process managers
- The process modeling tool is not well developed
- Average graphics
5. Capitalism II
- Choose from over 60 product types to manufacture and market, ranging from apparel, shoes, yogurt, ice-cream, hand bags, cosmetics to electronics and cars.
- Hire and fire upper management positions such as Chief Operating Officer, Chief Marketing Officer, and Chief Technical Officer.
- Expand your corporation into a true conglomerate; get ink on your fingers and take to the airwaves with your newspaper publishers, TV, and radio stations.
This game is a reflection of today’s super competitive corporate world. A single decision can better or jeopardize your future in the nick of time. Your work is to leverage business strategy skills and create a big business empire.
The game features several business aspects such as production, marketing, and supply chain management.
If you make the right decisions in the game, you will be able to create global corporations and push your wealth score to billions. The stakes in this game are likely higher than in any other tycoon games you have come across.
At the very top, you will be able to control mining operations, manufacturing, media outlets, and the retail sector.
The game has just the right complexity, in my opinion. One is, however, required to devote a lot of playtimes to learn the game. Once you start making some profits in the retail sector, Capitalism 2 opens up as an exciting game.
Your objective would be to re-invest the profits in your retail business and diversify to new products and locations. As your demand heightens, you will soon have to step into manufacturing to keep things running.
To obtain the raw materials, you will have to get into mining, then farming as the game progresses.
Capitalism II Pros & Cons
- It is highly complex and competitive
- It scores highly on the ‘reality’ scorecard
- It has multiplayer capabilities
- Steep learning curve
- The interface lags during multiplayer matches
The Best Pick
Theme Hospital stands out as the best strategy game in this review. The game is laced with several challenges and exciting rewards. The consequences of failure are also clearly defined.
This game teaches not only strategy but also business processes management. One is required to organize and motivate hospital staff for the best outcomes.
You are also required to minimize expenses and maximize revenue. Then again, you are to optimize services by building better facilities and acquiring new equipment.
The level of complexity of the game is average. You can learn the ropes in a short time compared to other games in the review. That, along with excellent graphics and a solid plot, makes Theme Hospital the ideal strategy game for aspiring entrepreneurs.