A few days ago I wrote an article about Mad Games Tycoon releasing on PS4. At the time, I mused whether this was the first game development tycoon game available on PS4, and if it wasn’t, it’s the first one I’ve heard of. It turns out I’ve heard of this game before. I’ve actually played this game before, for many hours!
I was having a tidy up of my desktop icons, and I came across Mad Games Tycoon. I hadn’t played it for a very long time, but I remember that I had downloaded it as part of my Origin Access subscription on PC. I do remember playing the hell out of it months and months ago, but for whatever reason, I just dropped it and forgot it ever existed. Sorry for ghosting you, Mad Games Tycoon!
With that, I guess I’m in the best position to review the PS4 release.
If you’ve no interest in business management games, Mad Games Tycoon won’t do it for you. Or maybe it will? Perhaps a game based around something you already have an interest in could sway you over to the dark side?
Mad Games Tycoon is a games tycoon game, but there’s nothing mad about it. There’s also not a lot that hasn’t been done before. Google ‘video game tycoon game’ and you’ll get dozens of search results with dozens of other such games. The thing that makes Mad Games Tycoon stand out from the rest of the crowd is just how deep it goes. I’ve played a couple of other game tycoons on my phone, but nothing has hooked me as much as Mad Games Tycoon.
You start in your garage with just a small amount of money to get started. You can create your own game straight away, though it’ll be a little naff. Bear in mind that you start in 1980, a time when games weren’t so prevalent and mostly relied on text or pixels the size of house bricks. Your first games will be simple puzzle games, but as the decades roll by and you’ve researched new technologies and expanded your team, you’ll be creating AAA games that could bring in a fortune, or cripple your company into bankruptcy. I’ve had that happen a few times. OK, it happens every time, but that’s the price of ambition!
While it’s the standard make games, hire people, make better games, make more money gameplay loop, it’s the depth that intrigues me and keeps me playing far beyond my bedtime. You can hire new employees and train them up to be master developers. You can expand your company to new locations, giving you more space and resources to work with. You can even design the office space to be however you want it, a little like The Sims. You’ll partner up with publishers when you’re the new face on the game dev block, but get a few hits under your belt and you’ll be able to invest in your own production and publishing, even taking on publishing contracts yourself and take a cut from the pie, increasing your revenue streams.
There’s a lot to weigh up, too, when it comes to releasing games, creating your own console, or publishing another companies product. Looking at market trends will help you decide whether now is the time to be making a first-person shooter, or whether you should avoid strategy games. If a developer comes to you with a game that’s sure to review poorly, do you take the risk, invest in some marketing and make it a runaway success despite the odds? Much like the real-life business, it’s all about weighing up risk and reward.
Almost every console from 1980 up to the present day is represented, albeit with a twist. Sony is now Poni. Nintendo is now Mintendu, and the Switch is the very German-sounding Zwitch. Most consoles are represented fairly by how well they did in real life. The Gameboy knockoff is a runaway success and you’ll make a ton of money releasing a few decent games for it. There are a few flops, too, but maybe you could turn the Wii U into a success by creating an exclusive for it? I don’t know. I didn’t. But I also didn’t get offered to. Maybe that’s one for the future? I’d have liked to have seen some scenarios where platform holders bid for your new game to be an exclusive for their console. Just a thought.
When it comes to making your own console, be mindful that it’s a massive investment. First, you need to research the technologies, then you need to actually produce it, and then it needs some games. You can create a monster of a console, but if it doesn’t have any games, nobody will buy it and you will have sunk 400 million on dead weight. So, just like Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo, you need to create top-tier exclusives with the reviews to back them up and get the consoles into the hands of players. It’s great to see the different facets all coming together to create a coherent experience that isn’t overly complicated. It’s also very rewarding when things go right, but incredibly frustrating when they go wrong. And they will go wrong, and you’ll learn a lesson for your next run. My tip: Don’t create a console early on. You’ll go bust before it hits the shelves.
Playing on PC and PS4 is very comparable. You’re getting all the content and features, but you’re playing with a controller instead of a mouse. To be fair to the developers, they’ve overcome this very well by using the PS4’s motion controls to give you mouse-like movement over the game’s cursor. It takes a bit of getting used to, and it’s best used in tandem with the traditional left stick, but after an adjustment period, I was more than comfortable playing on PS4. Plus, trophies!
Obviously, like all sims, Mad Games Tycoon simplifies the industry it is playing with, but it’s still a really interesting look at how the games industry works and what it’s like to be a part of the machine. Plus, I made a console and called it the Chris Box. It sold terribly and bankrupted my company. But I’ll happily do it all over again.
Mad Games Tycoon PS4 Review
Overall - Fantastic - 8/10
Mad Games Tycoon stands head and shoulders above other game dev sims by bringing much more depth and sophistication to the table than the others have so far. If you’re a fan of strategy and business-sim games, consider this a must-buy. For everyone else, it’s at least worth a look.
Deep, rewarding gameplay loop
Easy to understand and play
Each playthrough has the potential to be different to the last
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Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using PS4 Pro.