One of the most loved forms of mobile games for casual gamers has always been the “Tycoon Game” genre.
The mobile platform lends itself to quick paced games that you can engage in for short periods of time and pick up later on, and that’s a style of play entirely in line with business-building tycoon games.
The best part about many of the tycoon games that you play is that they age well. Even after several years, you can pick up Game Dev Story or Virtual Beggar, and they’re still fun to play.
To help you decide which games to try out, we’re going to go through the best tycoon games available for mobile devices in 2019.
Short History of Tycoon Games
I remember my first “tycoon game” vividly – Lemonade.
In fact, I wrote it myself on a Commodore 64 in BASIC from a “Learn to Program BASIC” book that I took out of the local public library back in 1984.
For most people, learning to program “Lemonade” or some variation thereof is a staple of your software development and programming education.
The commercial success of “tycoon games” really took off in 1990 when legendary game developer, Sid Meier, released his groundbreaking game, Railroad Tycoon.
Railroad Tycoon went on to sell over 400,000 copies for publisher MicroProse, accounted for several sequels (none of which sold as well or achieved the same level of critical success) and most importantly, kicked off the entire genre.
Fast forward to 1999, when Sid Meier’s MicroProse alum, Chris Sawyer, released RollerCoaster Tycoon for Hasbro Interactive.
To say that RollerCoaster Tycoon was a success would be something of an understatement – within three years of its release, RollerCoaster Tycoon had sold over four million copies and generated tens of millions of dollars in sales to go along with a string of “Game of the Year” awards.
When we turn our attention to tycoon games for mobile, the game in 2010 that really exploded the genre into the market was a game from a quirky Japanese studio that had been released 13 years earlier for the PC with almost no fanfare – Game Dev Story.
The mobile market is now flush with “tycoon games” in a variety of styles: clickers, resource collectors, strategy, so below we’re going to cover several of the best available in 2019.
Game Dev Story
Again, this game really started the tycoon game trend on the iPhone when Kairosoft ported it from Japanese to English back in 2010 and released it for Android and iOS.
Game Dev Story puts you in the position of the head of a Game Development Company where you have to hire a team of game developers and create high-quality games that appeal to a broad market.
Your success is determined by hiring better staff, acquiring the ability to produce games for popular new platforms and by developing expertise within your studio along the way.
The game has several nuanced elements to it like training your staff, game platforms that are superseded by newer technology and buying small advantages along the way to help your team and products.
Game Dev Story has that incredible combination of addictiveness and the ability to warp your sense of time – you’ll start playing it and then suddenly, it’s three hours later.
Even after nearly nine years since its release, Game Dev Story is still good fun to play, and the 8-bit style graphics never age.
Link for iPhone: https://itunes.apple.com/app/id396085661
Link for Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.kairosoft.android.gamedev3en&hl=en_US
Similar Game: Game Dev Tycoon
RollerCoaster Tycoon Touch
One of the grandaddies of the entire tycoon games genre is also a massive success on mobile.
RollerCoaster Tycoon Touch benefits significantly from the increase in graphical and processing capability of modern mobile devices like the latest iPhones and Androids.
Simplistically, RollerCoaster Tycoon Touch is a game that allows you to build your own amusement park using a card collection system to build and upgrade your rides.
Built from the ground up for mobile, touch-based devices, RollerCoaster Tycoon Touch is more intuitive than previous versions of the game for mobile and it offers an innovative Coaster Builder that lets you drag your finger along the screen to layout where you want the tracks to go and in what shape.
RollerCoaster Tycoon Touch has a good blend of the traditional elements of the original series, some updated game mechanics with the cards, and a user interface that takes advantage of modern mobile devices.
Similar Game: Roller Coaster Builder Mobile
Released back in 2014, AdVenture Capitalist was one of the very first tycoon games to take advantage of the play style on mobile of “clicking” – if you’re not familiar with “clickers”, these are games where you repeatedly tap the screen to collect or buy resources in the game.
Like most of these “clicker” style tycoon games for mobile, the graphics are not the main drawing card and are pretty simplistic. What these games do use quite heavily though is the processor of your device because they are just turning over massive levels of calculations in the background – so word of warning, they do use a considerable amount of battery power.
In AdVenture Capitalist, you play the role of an “entrepreneur” and you own a bunch of businesses – a lemonade stand, car wash, pizza store, etc. You gain money by clicking on the business to sell your items and as you earn revenue, you buy “more” of each type of business.
As you own more of these businesses, their revenue multiplies and the speed at which they earn their revenue decreases – so when you own 10 lemonade stands, the time to earn is halved and the revenue increases by a boosted multiplier.
Eventually, you can “sell” your business for Angels, which restarts your game but the Angels serve as a multiplier of revenue after the restart and eventually, with enough MegaBucks (an in-game currency) you can buy access to run businesses on the Moon and Mars.
AdVenture Capitalist is one of those games that you can just pick up and play over and over again in small spurts, but like any resource clicker, it can become a bit repetitive after a while and you can plateau where it becomes time-consuming to proceed.
Link for iPhone: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/adventure-capitalist/id927006017?mt=8
Link for Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.kongregate.mobile.adventurecapitalist.google&hl=en_US
Similar Game: Taps To Riches
Idle Supermarket Tycoon
Idle Supermarket Tycoon is a recently released tycoon game that came out in February 2019.
Taking on the role of a manager/owner of a department store, you have to add departments that sell products to your store, hire checkout staff, ensure your car park is big enough to handle all your customer cars and grow your business to earn enough money to sell up and move to a new, bigger city.
Idle Supermarket Tycoon is a more modern style clicker game, where you don’t have to tap the screen to sell things because you have staff in each department and checkout staff for the store – this simple mechanic adjustment makes the game both faster and less tedious.
The game forces you to make several subtle strategic decisions about how to invest in growing your stores that make Idle Supermarket Tycoon an interesting challenge – for example, do you level up your departments or increase the skill of the staff working in them?
One thing this game also does well is incorporate the way the developer earns money (advertising and selling in-game items and currency) with the natural gameplay – you can buy things to speed up progress, but you can also watch ads to help move things along as well.
Idle Supermarket Tycoon is fun, but within three days of starting the game, having not spent any money on the game, I’ve reached the last available city which was just released a few days back, so it doesn’t yet have the replayability of older, similar types of games.
Similar Game: Mega Mall Story
Weed is big business, so it only makes sense that there are tycoon games about building your own marijuana empire business.
Hempire is the weed business game that is easily the most fun on mobile because it combines many different gaming elements successfully – city building, resources collection, buying and selling mechanics, character-driven story, and clicker gameplay components.
In the game, your job is to make more money and tackle challenges set for you by the various characters in the game. To achieve these goals, you need to grow and sell your weed at a profit.
The game has a variety of strategy elements like creating new strains of plants and refining your grow house, that help keeps it interesting and there are multiplayer competitions you can enter once you’ve established yourself in the game.
Hempire was released in early 2018, but the developers have been keeping it up to date with new story elements, characters and challenges, so for new and existing players alike, it has a good amount of variable playability.
Similar Game: Weed Inc.
The first time you see Hooked Inc, you look at it and think, “This doesn’t really seem very interesting. I mean, fishing? Come on.“
Then you drop your line into the water (sorry for the terrible dad joke) and you start dragging your finger around the screen, reeling in fish, tapping your boat and reel to upgrade, and before you know it, two hours have passed and you realize the tip of your finger is numb.
In simple terms, Hooked Inc is a game where you run a fishing boat and you drag your finger across the screen to collect the fish swimming underneath your boat – bigger fish are worth more and bigger boats and rod/reels help you catch bigger fish.
There’s no easy way to describe Hooked Inc, besides calling it something of a hybrid game – it’s not a full tycoon game, it’s not really a clicker, it’s not an idle style game… But it has elements of all those things.
Again, what the developers of Hooked Inc have managed to do well is wrangle pieces of those mobile game styles into something engaging and fun, without being too stressful.
In 1985, Bob Keener released a game for the Commodore 64 called, “Rags to Riches” – it was one of the most fun games that I’d ever played at that point in my life.
In Rags to Riches, you played a classic “hobo” character, and the goal was to pick up coins, sell discarded bottles, get an education, get a haircut, get a better job and progressively lift yourself out of the literal gutter to become a millionaire.
Rags to Riches was a fun role-playing game that had elements of tycoon game style as well as being part clicker.
Virtual Beggar is a modern, updated take on that game, with more tycoon game elements and more involved gameplay, but it still maintains the classic 8-bit graphical appeal.
Virtual Beggar has a very similar set of game mechanics, but obviously is considerably more fleshed out – you start as a beggar, but your goal is now to build and grow companies to become a multi-billionaire and buy “all the things”.
There’s something about the game style of picking yourself up by your bootstraps and turning yourself into a success that is really addictive and appealing.
Football Manager 2019 Mobile
Football Manager by Sports Interactive in the UK is the absolute pinnacle of sports management games.
Created by Oliver and Paul Collyer in 1992 from their bedrooms in Shropshire as Championship Manager, this series has undergone a name change (switched from Eidos to Sega as publishers) the franchise has sold over 18 million copies since its release.
The game engine and player database are so comprehensive, professional soccer clubs around the world often use it as a scouting tool, and there have been successful players hired as actual managers of lower league teams.
On the downside, Football Manager addiction has been cited as a cause of literally dozens of divorces across the UK and the rest of the world – so to say the game is captivating and addictive is a mild understatement.
The mobile version of Football Manager 2019 is a slightly cut down and simplified version of the game that better suits the smaller screen and time constraints of mobile casual gamers.
Your job in the game is to run a professional football club and take them to worldwide glory by setting the tactics, training your squad, buying and selling players and basically, being the manager of the club.
It’s not a pure tycoon game, and it doesn’t really fit into the business simulation category either, but it has elements of both, and you can’t really talk about this style of game and not mention Football Manager 2019 Mobile because of just how amazing it is.
Link for iPhone: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/football-manager-2019-mobile/id1437397276?mt=8
Link for Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=football.manager.games.fm19.mobile&hl=en_US
Similar Game: Top Eleven 2019 Mobile
Motorsport Manager 3 Mobile
Sticking with the sports management game theme, let’s move on to Motorsport Manager 3 Mobile.
Motorsport Manager 3 Mobile has a few more tycoon game elements to it than perhaps Football Manager 2019 Mobile does – you’re running a motorsports team as a business, where your job is to build the infrastructure to develop race cars, hire the right staff and drivers and bring in the sponsors to lead your team to championships in a variety of racing series.
One of the fun elements of this game that is somewhat underappreciated has very little to do with the classic tycoon game style of play – it’s managing your race strategy in the game.
When it comes time to race, you have to keep an eye on your drivers, watch their fuel and tire consumption and then adjust your pit strategy to give yourself an optimal chance at winning.
Toss in a bit of weather and things get really interesting.
From a tycoon game perspective, you need to be quite strategic about how you manage your finances to balance out your R&D on future cars, developing your existing vehicle and hiring the right staff to build out your team.
Investing in facilities, signing sponsors and negotiating contracts with drivers and staff are all up to you.
This game is good fun, but by the time you get to the top series and have built out your team’s infrastructure, it becomes incredibly difficult to lose, but that can take a long time to get there.
Similar Game: Grand Prix Story 2
If someone told you that running a chicken farm where your job was to maximize the number of eggs that your hens produced so that you could develop new “types” of eggs, do you think you’d want to play that game?
Yeah, it’s a strange premise, but it is absolutely embarrassing for this writer to discuss how much time has been spent trying to enhance the pens and logistics so that the next new “high tech” egg would become available.
Seriously, we’re talking dozens and dozens of hours spent.
Egg Inc is one of those mobile clicker games that sneaks up on you, and before you know it, it’s dark outside and you haven’t showered or eaten.
Clicker type games can become a bit boring and repetitive after a while, but the very clever visual puns and design choices that the developers of Egg Inc have made to fuse the simplistic game mechanics of a clicker game with the more strategic elements of a tycoon game is fun and impressive.
Link for iPhone: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/egg-inc/id993492744?mt=8
Link for Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.auxbrain.egginc&hl=en_US
Similar Game: There’s really nothing specifically like this.
If you’re holding out to play a modern, mobile game along the lines of the original MicroProse, Sid Meier version of Railroad Tycoon, then the most similar game that you’re going to find is SteamPower 1830.
Don’t be confused by the name, this version is just a spiritual successor to the original, it has none of the same staff working on it, but it does share the gameplay mechanics and it does a solid job of bringing them to mobile.
The idea is to build out your railroad company by laying tracks and establishing your lines as the great railroad expansion takes place – you need to move fast to stay ahead of the competition, but you also need to remain profitable.
You have to lay tracks, build stations, develop your train and carriage inventory and grow your network’s footprint so that you can pick up more cargo contracts and passengers.
SteamPower 1830 manages to keep the strategic aspect of this type of tycoon game intact, while also managing to make the game accessible to first-time players.
The one criticism is that later in the game, it can get quite challenging to succeed which can become quite frustrating considering the amount of time it takes to get to that point in a game.
Similar Game: Pocket Trains
It’s one thing to build a business or a product, these are the staple game mechanics of any good tycoon game, but it’s another thing altogether to build an entirely functioning city.
Megapolis sees you as the mayor of your own small little starter town, and with your grand ambitions and vision, you can no doubt turn it into a behemoth megacity.
Your job in Megapolis is to build out the buildings, lay the infrastructure, establish the businesses and direct the production goals of your industry to turn your small fledgeling town into the major metropolis it deserves to be.
This game is part business simulation, part tycoon game and it requires that you take a bigger picture view almost from the very beginning because making lousy design choices for your city can be VERY expensive to correct later on.
Put down roads in bad places and you make it harder for people and goods to get around.
Place your power water towers in a strange place and you might have to tear them down and move them later on.
Megapolis moves fast which is part of the fun, and as your city grows, you need to be on the ball so that everything ticks over correctly and you get the maximum return from your investments.
Megapolis is a classic game for the casual gamer that wants to play a bit here and there, pick up where they left off and simply have a bit of fun.
Similar Game: SimCity BuiltIt
The tycoon game genre is one of the most loved and played styles of game on mobile devices because it’s approachable and well suited to the casual gamer.
The mix of fun and strategy means that you can pick up a new game, play it for a bit, have a challenge and then put it down until the next time you have some free time to play again.
The games we listed above are the ones that are really the classics, but they also cover a broad range of styles – from more role-playing game style, to clickers, strategy games and all the way through to some fascinating hybrids.
Having said all that, the most important aspect of a good tycoon game is that it’s fun and this list is packed with the most fun tycoon games that you’re going to find for your mobile device.
Feel free to tell us what you’re playing in the comments or let us know if there’s a game we missed and maybe we’ll play it and add it into the list.