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Review: Game Dev Tycoon Demo

Updated on August 7, 2015
ANDR01D profile image

ANDR01D writes PC game reviews, comments on the video game industry, and sells video games for commission through Amazon.

Developer: Greenheart Games

Publisher: None

Genre: Strategy, God game

Platforms: Windows

Released: May, 2013

I used to review demos of games on my old gaming blog. Recently I thought I would revive this concept here on HubPages.

The first time you ever heard of this game was probably when news of its software tampering approach to combating piracy made it to several gaming blogs online. The game was uploaded to torrent portals by the very team that made it. This cracked version contained a little surprise – no it wasn’t malware, but it did punish people who pirated the game by making them lose money in-game due to piracy. This led to a lot of people taking to forums online and embarrassing themselves by telling others: “I’m losing money! Why?! What can I do to stop this?”, only to have someone else tell them: “Suck it you dumb pirate!”

How ironic.

This is that game. It’s an indie title, developed by two guys at Greenheart Games, and it’s rather good. If you were ever interested in how the gaming industry works and how to make it as a game developer, then this game gives you a basic idea – although not overly in-depth (as in it’ll bore you to tears and make you feel so discouraged that you fall in to a deep depression).

The premise is simple enough. You start off in a garage like many start-up businesses of this nature, sitting at a computer. It’s the 1980s, and video gaming is starting to become a serious business. You can choose your character’s name and basic appearance like head and shirt (not trousers). You also have a chance to name your company.

From there you will likely want to start developing your first game to get some cash flow going, to pay for monthly costs (rent, etc.). You have $70K to start off with but it won’t last forever. You control everything that takes place using the mouse, so not even keyboard hotkeys are featured here. Just click on the screen and select “develop new game” to get started. After naming your game, you have to choose a few things, all of which influence the cost of making the game – from which type of graphics you’ll opt for, to the features included in the game. Then you have to decide how much priority each stage of development gets, from working on the game’s engine, to the story and quests in-game.

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Once the game is finished, you have the opportunity to work out all the bugs before sending it off to a publisher. Releasing a buggy game is hardly recommended as it will likely be slammed by critics and gamers alike – losing you hard-earned fans in the process. Taking the extra time will reward you with better reviews and sales. After that, the reviews will come in, giving you an average score. The reviews determine how many copies of the game are sold, how long it will stay on shelves, and of course how much gross profit you'll end up making.

You also get to see how much you’ve progressed in terms of experience. Your skills will have gone up, and your character levels up after a while too.

From here, several other options on the contextual menu will be available as you progress, from researching new topics to combine with pre-existing genres, researching target audience to researching new peripherals and developing new custom game engines to use with your products. You need enough research points, and even enough money to do any of these things though – so you can’t research indefinitely. You do need to bring in money as well. You can view your game history to see which games did well, and which topic and genre combinations you have all ready covered. Doing a combination one too many times gets stale and leads to poor reviews, which equals dismal sales figures, which results in less money to add to your studio’s capital. Variety is the spice of life.

Throughout the game you will be guided by a tutorial (unless you opt to switch it off), and will receive news prompts, telling you about relevant goings-on in the industry such as new consoles being released, which influences the market share. You then have to strongly consider pleasing audiences by making a game for the majority, but this costs more, especially to purchase a licence. There’s a much bigger investment, and if it pays off, you’ll be rolling in dough. If it doesn’t you’ll go bankrupt and be out of a job. Playing it safe however rarely gets you anywhere for long, and you’ll barely hang on from month to month.

If you end up losing a lot of money, or worse you end up in the red with your bank and existing on a loan, you can take contracts, often handed out every few months by companies, to make a bit of cash to keep your company going. Take a contract and fail to deliver however and you will pay a penalty, which puts you at further risk of bankruptcy.

Click thumbnail to view full-size


+ Addictive
+ Shows you some basics of the industry


- A bit repetitive
- Bugs
- Annoying end game splash

Graphics: $$$
Sound: $$$
Gameplay: $$$$$
Originality: $$$$
Controls: $$$$
Story: $$

The Lite version of Game Dev Tycoon can be played as many times as you want, but you can only play until Year 5, instead of Year 30 or Year 35 – all covering the history of video games until the present day. Time is fixed and weeks go by very quickly, so it is to your advantage that you don’t waste time. The game is only paused when you access the contextual menu.

In the full game, you can play right up to 35 years, and can progress from being in a dingy little garage to a full game development studio complete with recreation area where you get to do what a person does when they’re not making games: play games. The game claims that you can still play after the 35 years are up, and that this in fact has no bearing on the overall length of the game, but just how quickly the events therein take place. Sounds confusing and it is, but it’s a bit like The Sims in practice, where you can speed up the game. In fact, this isn’t the only thing that reminds me of that game, but I’ll stop there.

It’s sad that more than 90% of people who've played this game ended up getting the pirated version. Because for a small price, this game provides endless hours of enjoyment, and now that it has just been greenlit, you could very well end up getting it for a song on Steam at some point. So do the right thing. Make sure to buy the legitimate full version of this game. It's worth it.

What do you think of Game Dev Tycoon Lite?

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© 2013 ANDR01D


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    • Sharp Points profile image

      Sharp Points 

      3 years ago from Big Bear Lake, California

      Looks like a fun game, I have always enjoyed tycoon games ever since they came out. Great hub though, I can tell you put a lot of effort into this one. Great quality, two thumbs up.


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