Video games with economy simulation provide the perfect balance between relaxation and challenge. Because, unlike action video games, failure in these kinds of games won’t kill you outright– instead, they will make you bankrupt and let you witness the slow downfall of what you once worked hard to build. That should be less stressful than death, right?
Of course, that doesn’t always happen. You can always manipulate the invisible hand of the market in your favor and establish a bullet-proof empire built on the foundation of wealth. The following games with economy simulation let you do just that and might even help you better with management and multitasking. Here are 8 of the best economy-based games you need to try out.
Cities: Skylines is, by far, the most intricate and most faithful city planner in the industry right now, and it has retained its spot on the throne since 2015 after SimCity 5 failed to live up to expectations. Numerous expansions, DLCs, and continued love from the developers have reinforced this game’s status as a legendary city-builder.
More than that, Cities: Skylines also lets you toy with your cities’ economic building blocks, particularly taxation, transportation, and facilities. It’s a rough and steep way to realize how a society can live or die around city planning and, for that matter, how basic civil and economic understanding can help.
Capitalism 2 is the sequel to the venerable Capitalism series. Likewise, it’s also a business empire simulator that can also look like a city-builder at first glance. It’s one of the most complex strategy and management games ever created and just about covers nearly all the aspects of businesses (pre-internet era).
As expected, you play as a corporate CEO who must then expand and manage your business while also predicting market opportunities to exploit. There are lots of ventures here, and you can even micromanage certain aspects of your business, from the price of goods to stocks.
Roller Coaster Tycoon 3
The latest entry in the Roller Coaster Tycoon series, Roller Coaster Tycoon 3, has a big reputation to live up to, and for the most part, it succeeded. You build and manage a roller coaster park here, which is easier said than done.
The economy simulation aspect here is smaller compared to that of fully-fledged city-builders, but Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 has its own charms. The best part is that you can somehow enjoy the fruits of your labor by partaking in a visitor mode, letting you test your creations. The gist of the game still revolves around generating profits for your theme park, of course, usually by coming up with some mad designs.
Railway Empire 2
In the spirit of not derailing the topic, here’s another game revolving around tracks. Railway Empire 2 puts you in charge of a whole transportation system during the boom of railway companies in the free market back in the early 1800s. Your job is to ensure that your tracks are as optimized as they can be while also expanding your transportation empire.
You’ll have to juggle the priorities in your finances, among many other things– at the same time, there are some relaxing activities in the game, like customizing locomotives and warehouses or depots. As it turns out, connecting continents and cities and serving as the lifeline of the industrial age was fraught with unprecedented challenges amid global problems back in the time period.
Speaking of the 19th-century economies, Victoria 3 is a grand strategy game where you take control of a Victorian-era civilization and make it a goal to propel that nation into an eventual superpower. As usual, for a world superpower to sustain itself or even to just realize itself, it would need to invade, colonize, and place a firm grip on the economy.
That’s where you come in. As a Victorian-era ruler, you’ll have to bolster your country’s economy in various ways (some of them unethical or violent), so in turn, your military gets funded, and you can fight rival powers. It’s the perfect armchair Napoleon simulator.
Other gameplay loops here involve fostering or igniting political dramas, much like other games from Paradox, the developer. They’re also well-known for their dynasty simulator, Crusader Kings.
Tropico 6 puts you in charge of a parody of Cuba and other Latin American countries which have adopted socialist structures and policies. You assume the role of a “El Presidente” in this tropical island country, and one of your jobs is to enact policies and political edicts that can transform the country into your idea of a utopia– or at the very least, sustain itself.
You can do this using tourism, among many other income-generating projects for your tropical island nation. There are plenty of things to control in this thematically-distinct city builder, from transportation to building design.
Tropico 6 also gives players more depth through additional challenges and changing eras that will disrupt the current formula that players were used to.
Merchant of the Skies
City-building and business management can get rather hectic and tedious with too many metrics to track. Sometimes, you just want to sit back and travel a bit while selling to ports in your very own caravan– make that a sky caravan with Merchant of the Skies. Here, you’ll be buying low and selling high based on distance-fueled price markups.
The best part is that, instead of seas, you’ll be traversing skies since the ships fly here. It has a similar atmosphere to some of the most calming simulation video games.
The game is a unique blend of genres, and it’s a bit hard to define. But one thing’s for certain here, that visual style sure is rustic and gorgeous. There’s plenty to like in this game, not just the trading mechanics and the simulated economy.
Anno 1800 is one of the latest games in the famed Anno series, and it’s also generally considered the best. This time around, you get to play as the mayor or governor of settlements who must build cities, set up trade routes, and optimize production all throughout your territories. There’s a lot to do in this game, and it considers itself a real-time strategy title.
All Anno games are great lessons about globalism and the economy of international supply lines. Still, Anno 1800 lets you learn it organically and more authentically since it takes place during the height of trading companies all the way to the transition into modernity.