Gamer on a Budget #11 – Game Dev Tycoon
Reviewed by William LJ Galaini
Game Dev Tycoon
Developer: Greenheart Games
Price: $4.99 on devices – $9.99 on PC/Mac/Linux
Where: Mac Store, Google Play, Steam, GoG
Platform: PC, Mac, Linux, Android
“I’ve got a great idea for a game!” is something we’ve all said, sober or not. We’ve also critiqued games endlessly, wondering why developers make the choices they do whenever we feel compelled to hurl our controller across the living room.
Game Dev Tycoon was made with us in mind. Here, you begin in your garage studio in the 80’s and, if successful enough, chew your way to the modern era of video game development. Commodore and PC is where it starts, and from there you can squeak out a living by developing text-only games. With technological innovation and intuitive design choices, your games can find their audience. Once good reviews roll in, and new platforms enter the market, you’ll be building MMO’s and Gameboy games in no time!
The UI is minimal and direct, making this an ideal game for both small-screened phones and large computer screens. Each studio you inhabit is vibrant and playful with a diverse cast of game development caricatures. Managing your staff, getting them vacation time, and leveling them up while keeping them trained is vital to running an efficient office that meets game publisher deadlines and sales quotas.
Managing magazine interviews as well as conventions like E3 also play a major roll. Have a small fanbase making mods? You can either sue them into oblivion (Lucas Arts) or release the modding tools for free (old Bethesda). Do you want to risk a fortune on your own convention like Blizzcon or Quakecon? You can! Want to run an MMO franchise for decades with periodic expansions? Sure thing! But if you can’t balance your fickle fanbase with your teetering finances, you may find yourself closed or even worse… bought by EA.
Game Dev Tycoon also doubles as a history lesson on gaming consoles. Each major player, such as Nintendo and Sega, are represented by ‘off-brand’ equivalents that lend to the game’s charm. Even a few historical events, like Nintendo’s infamous CD drive are mentioned here. But sadly the arcade scene is ignored entirely.
The casual nature of Game Dev Tycoon is always evident. While you also handle magazine interviews, and they can indeed blow up in your face, the options they present are binary at best. You can also burn out your team from over-training and over-working them, but they are far more resilient than actual humans. I had to crank my studio to Ion Storm levels of shenanigans to get anyone to actually leave. The game is surprisingly easy, and if you played half of the old simulators that Game Dev Tycoon references, you will breeze through it on your phone while riding the metro.
Overall, this is a great value. No free-to-play nonsense fudging up the game’s balance while you indulge in your fantasy of running your own video game studio. Colorful, charming, and stress-free, this game is an easy recommendation.
Why you would buy it:
You’re a maven for video game history
You can make Pillars of Eternity 3
Watch your coders endlessly drink coffee
Why you would pass on it:
You prefer playing video games over playing a game about them
The sound effects and music are what you’d expect from a five dollar game
You can get caught in debt loops that crush your studio… a little close too real life
Gaming enthusiasts and casual sim fans