The Top 10 Best Tycoon Games to Play Today

Best Tycoon Games
Bask in the glory of your creation.

The Top 10 Best Tycoon Games to Play Today

If you’ve always dreamed of donning a virtual top hat, mustache, and monocle, and earning the coveted title, Tycoon, your options today are limited. Tycoon games, good ones anyway, are few and far between in our modern gaming landscape. But lucky for you, my entrepreneurial friends, many Tycoon games, or business management games if you want to get nerdy, stand up against the test of time. With the recent release of Planet Zoo, Let's look back at the 10 best games to play if you want to create, manage, and profit!

10.  Jurassic Park Evolution

Fancy yourself a regular John Hammond? Think you know what it takes to cultivate prehistoric beasts, house them in a state-of-the-art facilities, and introduce them to excited park-goers? Then try out Jurassic World: Evolution. Build your own Jurassic World. Protect the public from dino rampages. Or, ya know… don’t, and bask in the gory tragedies of Man’s hubris.

What Makes Jurassic World Evolution Fun

  • The dinosaurs themselves are the most detailed, realistic, and lifelike ever seen in a video game. That’s right, Turok, you got got. Seriously, it’s like a nature documentary but with dinosaurs! Strip away all the management stuff, and you could still spend hours just watching these guys interact with their environment.
  • The sense of panic when one of your dinosaurs breaks loose. If you’ve ever had a morbid fascination for what it would feel like to be responsible for a theme park disaster, Jurassic World: Evolution gives that to you.
  • Details. Clouds, rain effects, textures on buildings. Flora that would make Dr. Sattler proud. Grass, trees, ferns, bushes. Evolution gives almost as much attention to the little things as it does to the stars of the show.

Main Street Jurassic World

Let your guests get up close to their favorite dinosaurs

9. SeaWorld Adventure Parks Tycoon 3D

This theme park tycoon game was ahead of its time, showcasing extremely detailed graphics and a 3D camera, and featuring unique play mechanics like animal training or rehabilitation. All at the service of creating your own SeaWorld Adventure Park. 

What Makes SeaWorld Adventure Parks Tycoon 3D Fun

  • Authentic Scenery. This is clearly a SeaWorld-specific tycoon game, and as such, it is able to replicate the actual buildings, enclosures, and even shrubbery found in the SeaWorld parks of San Diego, San Antonio, and Orlando in fine detail. For those tycoon fans who crave realism, it doesn’t get much better than SeaWorld Adventure Parks 3D.
  • Music. Rock out to that Calypso beat, and feel like you’re right there on the ground. This is background music you won’t find yourself silencing after 10 minutes.
  • You can easily take on the point of view of any of your guests, and get a close-up feel for how your park is laid out.

Behold, Atlantis!

Get to know your dolphin pals.

8. RollerCoaster Tycoon 2

Developer Chris Sawyer set the standard for all Tycoon games in 1999 with the original RollerCoaster Tycoon. The sequel, 2002’s RollerCoaster Tycoon 2, perfected that original design. The game allowed you to build your own coasters, and gave you a smorgasbord of options to customize your park. Not to mention a sophisticated and often imitated management system.

What Makes Roller Coaster Tycoon 2 Fun

  • Deep management simulation. The main draw of Roller Coaster Tycoon 2 today is its options for managing your park once it has been built. Everything from the queue wait times to the hot dog prices are variables that can change the way your park is received.
  • The rollercoasters themselves span a wide range. You can build a park with rides tailored exclusively for kids and families, or make a thrill seeker’s mecca with the biggest, most intense coasters around.
  • Charm. Maybe the best thing about RollerCoaster Tycoon and its sequel is their retro charm. Both games are colorful, and just a little cartoony, making the whole thing seem warm, fuzzy and nostalgic.

You can almost smell the cotton candy
Is there anything prettier than a classic woody?

7. Zoo Tycoon

Call this reboot of the Zoo Tycoon franchise, Zookeeper Tycoon, because what the game loses in management control, it gains in personal connection to your zoo’s animal inhabitants. While you can still design and manage your own zoo, Zoo Tycoon is best enjoyed as a way to care for and play with some of the cuddliest exotic animals around.

What Makes Zoo Tycoon Fun

  • The theming is so well done, so cohesive, that it makes you wonder if it was based on a real zoo. It wasn’t. The logos and general designs are all original. They give the game a feeling of authenticity.
  • The graphics are perhaps the best ever seen in a tycoon game. The animals and their enclosures lean more towards the realistic than most tycoon games, resulting in an immersive experience that makes you feel like you are right there on ground level.
  • Animals, animals, animals. What sets this game apart is how enjoyable it is to actually enjoy the zoos you create. With a third and first-person camera view (and Kinect support for those who have it), you can get hands-on with your animals, washing, feeding, and playing with some of the most realistic animals in gaming.

Enclosures replicate biomes from all corners of the globe
Cuteness levels reaching critical!

6. Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis

Fancy yourself a regular John Hammond? Wait, haven’t we already done this...?Yes, Operation Genesis is similar to the newer Jurassic World: Evolution, but it’s not obsolete. Operation Genesis also lets you build your own dinosaur zoological resort, but with more fun mini games and modes, it bests its spiritual successor.

What Makes Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis Fun

  • The Jurassic Park branding. Unlike Evolution, Operation Genesis boasts the classic Jurassic Park branding. Where World is all whites and blues, Park is colorful bursts of yellow, green, and red. The merchandising in Operation Genesis goes above and beyond to sell the illusion that this is really Jurassic Park.
  • Mini-games. Operation Genesis doesn’t stop at being a tycoon game. It also lets you participate in a series of awesome mini-games. You might have to herd some herbivorous dinosaurs or tranquilize escaped carnivores, or take jeep safaris to capture the perfect photo, or more.
  • Once your park has reached the height of success, you unlock Site B, an island where dinosaurs roam free. A proverbial “Lost World” if you will. There, you can simply observe the animals in their natural habitat without the stress of maintaining paddocks. 

Beautiful Day for a balloon ride. What could go wrong?
Mommy’s very angry.

5. The Movies

One of the more interesting tycoon games out there, The Movies puts you in charge of your own movie studio, challenging you to grow from a patch of land in the desert to a sprawling dream factory. You start with the silent films of the 1920s and work through the 2010s on your quest for movie greatness.

What Makes The Movies Fun

  • You get to make movies! Okay, it’s not like you can actually direct your own films from scratch, but you do get the ability to make small movies by choosing your sets, camera angles, cuts and more. Want to get your Spielberg on? The Movies has you covered.
  • Working with actors has never been so gratifying. You have the option to either bow down to your prima donnas or treat them like dirt and watch them walk. I think the latter is more fun.
  • Unique gameplay scenarios. The Movies gives you management options you don’t find when creating theme parks or zoos. Options such as sorting out what movie genres are popular with the public at any given time, or what stars attract the most attention. In the end, it’s almost a comically accurate depiction of the actual movie business.

And...Action!
The glamour of the picture biz.

4. Cities: Skylines

When you follow tycoon games to their logical end, you end up with something like Cities: Skylines. Forget the small scale stuff, Cities allows you to design from scratch your own Megalopolis. Taking cues from the possibly more popular SimCity, Cities: Skylines doubles down on management and creativity. This is a tycoon game for serious tycoons.

What Makes Cities: Skylines Fun

  • Natural disasters. What could be more fun than creating a thriving city, and being forced to defend it against an apocalyptic disaster? Nothing, that’s what. In this expansion, you may take on flooding, or a forest fire, or maybe a meteor careening toward your capital. Whatever it is, scrambling to save your citizens is so much fun.
  • The depth of the management options is unparalleled. Cities: Skylines is a game that can be accessible to newcomers, but really belongs to the hardcore managers. People who want to be in charge of each and every facet of daily life in the city.
  • The ambient noise, in all its varied and subtle glory, is the icing on the cake to making your cities feel alive and breathing.

Ah, city life.
Yeah. That’s a big town.

3. RollerCoaster Tycoon 3

RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 was a quantum leap for tycoon games in 2004. An explosion of fully 3D graphics and beautiful art direction, RCT3 quickly became the industry standard in theme park sims. It’s a game that allows your creativity to blossom, while expanding on the simulation aspects the series is known for.

What Makes RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 Fun

  • Water rides. The “Soaked!” expansion pack adds water park elements like pools and water slides to RCT3, and they are enough to carry their own game. There is almost as much variety and intuitiveness to the water rides as there is to the roller coasters.
  • The guests or “peeps” as they’re called, are individualized personalities, and it’s always interesting to see what their tastes are, who they are with, and what rides they have been on. It makes the experience of running your park a personal one.
  • But more entertaining than just monitoring your peeps is… Destroying them. Who doesn’t get a sick sense of glee from ramming a runaway coaster into unsuspecting park goers at 100 mph?

I wanna go there. 
The parks take on a new look at night.

2. Zoo Tycoon 2

It may be viewed as the younger brother of RollerCoaster Tycoon 3, but Zoo Tycoon 2 is an even better tycoon experience, giving you a revolutionary amount of control to pair with your creativity. With tons of animals and an infinite number of ways to showcase them, Zoo Tycoon 2 is pretty much the most complete tycoon game out there. Before you dive into the brand new Planet Zoo, you may want to give the Granddaddy of them all another shot.

What Makes Zoo Tycoon 2 Fun

  • Terrain Controls. Morphing the terrain is always one of the most frustrating endeavours in tycoon games, but not here. The controls are tight and intuitive, making ground work fun. And the best part is, it lets you change path elevation without getting your guests stuck.
  • Custom enclosures. Unlike its 2013 follow up, Zoo Tycoon 2 lets you customize your animals’ enclosures any way you want. Any size, any shape, any biome, any terrain. Throw in a healthy amount of enrichment tools and feeders and the sky's the limit for what you can create.
  • First person mode gives you control over the guests’ point of view. You can move wherever you want on the map, and even help the zookeepers clean up.

That’s engineering, folks.
Something tells me this wasn’t a good idea.

1. Planet Coaster

From the leader in theme park gaming, Frontier, comes the greatest tycoon game ever made. Planet Coaster, the spiritual successor to RollerCoaster Tycoon, is a culmination of 20 years of theme park sims. Unparalleled creativite tools are used to make the most authentic theme parks in video games.

What Makes Planet Coaster Fun

  • The roller coaster designing tools are perfect. Not good, not great, perfect. Coasters are built piece by piece, but with 100% complete range of motion, meaning you aren’t limited by what pieces you can use. You can move them anywhere and that means every ride is different.
  • The building tools are what set Planet Coaster apart from most other video games. Instead of having pre-built shops and restaurants, Planet Coaster encourages you to build own own buildings. It’s easy, fun, and it adds a tremendous amount of authenticity.
  • Freedom. That one word encapsulates why this game is number 1 on this list. Nothing in Planet Coaster is spoon fed. The game challenges you to make your own way. Build the park from your imagination directly into the game. And isn’t that the ultimate goal of any tycoon game?

Everything you see was made by hand.
Perfection.

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Journeyman adventurer. By day, I am a humble writer, by night, an intrepid explorer. The call to adventure has led me to all realms of Gamedom in search of Fortune and Glory, kid. Fortune and Glory.
Gamer Since: 2000
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Red Dead Redemption II
Top 3 Favorite Games:Batman: Arkham City, Portal 2, Resident Evil 4 Ultimate HD
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