17 Management and City-Building Games for Armchair Tycoons

Before kids and other responsibilities, when I regularly gamed into the wee hours, playing management sims was one of my favorite things to do. I spent countless days building in Sim Tower, SimCity, and Theme Park. I ran a studio in The Movies, managed a menagerie in Zoo Tycoon, and constructed the pyramids in Pharaoh. My villainous lairs in Dungeon Keeper 2 and Evil Genius were beyond compare. I built impregnable castles in Stronghold, and I sank days into Game Dev Story—a game about making games.

These games are the perfect foil to multiplayer madness, offering a table of absorbing escapism for one. As the kids have grown, I’ve found myself with a little more time to scratch that management and building itch, and these are the games that have sucked me back in.

A note for potential players: While there are often console versions, you tend to get better controls and greater depth if you play on PC.

Updated June 2024: We added several games, including Against the Storm, Manor Lords, and Galacticare, switched a couple of titles for newer releases, and updated details and pricing throughout.

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