In 2012, Greenheart Games released game developer simulator Game Dev Tycoon [$4.99] for PC players. Billed as somewhat of a basic strategy/simulation title, Tycoon earned a strong player following and has been a favorite indie title on PC for quite some time. Five years later and a mobile version of Tycoon is finally on iOS, where it naturally fits and is an awesome addition to the genre.

For mobile gamers that haven’t played Game Dev Tycoon on another platform, it plays similar to the 2011 Kairosoft title Game Dev Story (which actually inspired Tycoon). Players start out in a garage in the early days of the video game revolutionary creating simple games for the PC and basic platforms. As the game progresses, new consoles get released in the universe that closely mirror the console release timeline of the real world. With each new console comes new opportunity to make new games.

As one might expect, the making of the games is where all the gameplay and strategy truly is. The basic premise involves choosing a platform, a genre, and a thematic category for the game. After those are chosen game develop is broken up into three discrete phases, which each phase offering players the opportunity to add on features to the game and allocate resources to categories such as Story-writing, Graphics, and Sound. While a game’s success depends on a lot of elements, having a successful genre-theme category for the chosen platform is a good indicator for predicting popularity and a lot of the fun is exploring new combinations.

Game Dev Tycoon takes the basic premises described above and pile on a ton of strategic elements that really make the game a joy to play from a strategic and time management standpoint. Every element of game development can be classified as needing Design Points or Technology Points. You raise the likelihood of developing those points by assigning programmers that are specializing in one or the other (or both!). Programmers can be trained to develop their Design or Technology skills and can begin to specialize in specific criteria for software development or learn new special skills to use while making a game. Eventually players can unlock the ability to open R&D labs for even more customization.

Outside of improving individual employees, there’s a huge other portion of Game Dev Tycoon that focuses on developing new tools for game development. Each individual aspect of development has its own experience/level that can be developed. As the studio becomes more experienced, new development tools, such as better graphics or multi-genre games are available to be researched (and MMOs and Game Shops later in the game). Once researched, these tools can be used in development after creating new game engines that incorporate the latest advancements.

Everything I’ve discussed so far takes time, research points (which are gained when making games and engines) and money. Near the beginning of the game, money is the greatest bottleneck while towards the end fo the game it’s time and research points that are high in demand. A lot of the fun of Tycoon involves balancing making games, with training, with research while making sure there’s enough money to keep the lights going until the next big hit. There’s also a very strong appeal to wanting to “make just one more game” or to keep researching new tools and making new engines just to experiment with how new features impact sales.

In terms of how Game Dev Tycoon performs on iOS, quite simply it plays as if it’s designed for the mobile platform. The bite-sized timeline of making new games and researching new technologies works well in a portable setting. The visuals also looked great and I had no issues with the basic control scheme in its transition to touch. Probably the biggest “issue” I encountered was I never wanted to play it in bite-sized portions, so if the game hooks you in as it did with me, make sure you allocate enough time for play.

Quite simply, I’m a huge fan of Game Dev Tycoon and I love that we can finally play this title on iOS. It’s the perfect sort of game for mobile devices and there’s so much to do here in terms of developing personnel, researching items, and making games that there’s loads of replayability for quite a long time. An oldie, but a goodie, all players owe it to themselves to check out this great port.

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TouchArcade Rating

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  • Milotorou

    Completely forgot this was coming on iOS !

    Well with this and Grid my 20$ gift card is dry, but I couldnt be happier !

  • Skylez

    got it!

  • Shawn

    Can't wait for the Android Port. Played the hell out of this thing on PC. Now I want it on my phone!

  • DotComCTO

    It looks quite similar to Kairosoft's Game Dev Story, so how does it differ? How is it better/worse/the same? I didn't get that from the article.

    • Milotorou

      Id say the progression curve is better in this.

      This game also has more mechanics that werent present in Kairosoft's title, for better or for worse, I think some of the new additions werent necessary, but theyre not gamebreaking either.

      The art direction is definitely night and day, with this game approaching more of a "clean 2D" approach when Kairosoft is heavy on pixelart, wether you prefer one or the other is a subjective thing, theyre both well done in all due respect.

      This game feels bigger too, being intended to be a PC release in the first place does show a bit more ambition on the size of the game.

      I think at the price it is right now this game is worth it if you liked game dev story and would like more with a few different twists. If you did not like GDS however, this game will definitely not change your mind.

      • DotComCTO

        Great reply! Thanks a lot for this info. 🙂

  • madmaxmedia

    They need to do the super meta Game Dev Game Dev Story game, where you play as a developer developing simulations games about developing video games.

  • HelperMonkey

    There should be a mini game where you have to navigate your game through a random, procedurally generated gauntlet of ever-fluctuating submission guidelines and requirements for acceptance to an “ApplicationStorefront.”
    Bonus challenge!

  • Muhammad Ginandjar

    This is i wanted so long!! finally on ios device, can't wait on android device... yeah so similarty to game dev story on kairosoft... hopefully kairosoft create a new series for the game

    GAME DEV STORY 2 to be honest the first game was addicting

  • Muhammad Ginandjar

    it looks like android users must wait a while

    "Yes, we aim to release for Android in January 2018"

  • I-Am-Boss

    Quite simply, the reviewer liked this shameless clone, quite simply 🙂

Game Dev Tycoon Reviewed by Eric Ford on . Rating: 5