Which car is the best business expense?
— Recette Lemongrass
, Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale
What's more fun than business? Spreadsheets, paperwork, receipts- what else would you do in your spare time? Still, money is fun, and any way of at least virtually getting it can be fun by extension. Which is why some video games
revolve around, or have segments of, running your own business. This could be a buy/sell table, price setting, or picking items to put up for sale. It just can't only exist in Cut Scenes
or Back Story
Makes you feel like you're doing something useful, right?
This can also apply to board games.
Defiances of this trope are represented by Karl Marx Hates Your Guts
and Adam Smith Hates Your Guts
A Sister Trope
to An Economy Is You
, Player Generated Economy
(the metagame version of the trope).
Compare An Interior Designer Is You
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- The 1993 computer game by Interplay, Rags to Riches - The Financial Market Simulation, is a first-person adventure game that simulates making a fortune on the stock market with very little capital.
- In the freeware game The Wager, the goal is to make money by exploring uncharted islands and selling them to prospective colonists.
- The Multi-Platform Video Game based on the first Ghostbusters involved elements of this. It's actually considered a pioneer of this form of gameplay (even if the rest of the game was found lacking).
- The page picture is from it. Even when you've got the money, don't buy the sports car unless you can also afford the portable containment system (which is as expensive as the car itself), as it's too small for a comfortable trap supply.
- In eRepublik there is usually a minister/secretary of finance for each country who's job it is to deal with inflation, taxes, economic stimulus, etc. So in many ways A Central Banker Is You too.
- In Dealt in Lead players can run saloons. Eventually banks, general stores, drugstores, etc, will be added.
- Europe 1400 has you establishing a mercantile dynasty in 15th century Europe, there's also a bit of medieval politics involved.
- Swords and Potions on Kongregate is all about owning your own shop in a fantasy universe.
- In EVE Online the player is a ridiculously wealthy immortal starship pilot who can do anything from trade to manufacturing to piracy. Practically the entire economy is player-run.
- In some of the Diner Dash games, Flo owns the diner.
Real Time Strategy
Role Playing Game
- The Elder Scrolls III: Bloodmoon lets you run a mead hall after finishing a quest. It is also possible to run your own item-crafting business provided you have the required skills, not to mention the possibility of a treasure scavenging business.
- The latter half of Neverwinter Nights 2 follows this trope in spirit. Rather than a business, you must oversee the economic and military planning of one of Neverwinter's subject territories.
- The expansion pack Storm of Zehir is even more faithful to this trope, featuring a caravan system, income, expenses, balance sheet, etc.
- Mount & Blade, much like a space sim, allows you to trade goods between cities. This is one of the most efficient ways of making money, and often necessary considering how much money a well-trained army costs.
- Then there is the new industry system which can have you invest in personal enterprises. Some financial knowledge required
- Recettear focuses on the main character being forced to run an RPG Item shop to pay off her father's debts while getting heroes to go through dungeons to find loot to sell.
- Lemuore no Renkinjutsushi focuses on an alchemist running a shop to pay off her own debts. She too gets heroes to go through dungeons to find loot to sell.
- Certain games in Atelier Series make you the owner of your shop of wonders. In Atelier Viorate, alchemy is the means of revitalizing the economy of your backwater village.
- Star Ocean: Till the End of Time has inventing, which allows you to patent the items you create and sell them in shops. While it's technically the Craftsman's Guild that's responsible for mass-producing and selling these items, you still receive all the revenues from them on a real-time salary basis, and can even hire other inventors to make more items for you in exchange for a nominal fee.
- In Fable III you either run up property values with high rent (letting the kingdom hate you for awhile, but save their lives later) or let them live in cheap housing happily for a short time before dying horribly.
- Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 have Join Avenue, which the player is assigned to manage since the owner is busy. As manager, the player can invite NPCs or acquaintances from Wi-Fi to open shops there, and recommend shops for visitors to improve business, as well as shop there themself. The better a store's popularity, the better its stock.
- In the Forza Motorsport series, you can earn plenty of credits solely by selling liveries (2 onwards) and car setups (3/4) you have created. There's also the Auction House.
- Any game with "Tycoon" in the name (just they aren't a series since the term can't be trademarked).
- Coconut Queen
- Harvest Moon, since you own the farm in most games.
- Sim Theme Park.
- The Sims 2 "Open for Business" expansion pack
- Spaceflight simulators and their terrestrial cousins, pirate simulators, often allow the player to trade commodities between ports (as opposed to just selling pirated cargo at the first port available, which is the usual method). Examples include:
- Franchise mode in Madden NFL tasks you with running the business end of the team in between games.
- Ports of Call, in which you are a shipowner. Ironically, the most money isn't made by sending goods from port to port, but by brokering ships. Go figure.
- Capitalism II, where you're the CEO of a corporation, literally is this trope. Wikipedia claims Capitalism II is so realistic that business schools use it for their lessons.
- The Anno series.
- Uncharted Waters and its sequel, Uncharted Waters: New Horizons.
- East India Company, where you get to build up the titular Mega Corp. from the ground up.
- M.U.L.E., one of the first.
- Cart Life has you attempting to start and maintain a retail cart in the city. The game is notable for including a lot more plot and character development than is typical for the genre.
Stealth Based Game
- Assassin's Creed II has this with the management of Monteriggioni; it's completely optional, but since it returns your investment several times over there's no good reason not to do it.
- This turns out to be the optimal method of making money, outpacing everything else (like completing quests, finding treasure chests, or pickpocketing) to a ludicrous degree. But since the only expensive things in the game are the improvements to Monterggioni and armor (which isn't available to purchase until some Event Flags are tripped), less than a third of the way through the game it becomes apparent that money is useless.
- Restoring the town also has the nice effect of the turning the local weather from dark and dreary overcast to bright and hopeful sunshine.
- Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood expands this to a city-wide scale, allowing you buy boarded-up storefronts in Rome and putting them back into business, as well as landmarks. You can also reopen stables that will always have horses available for use, but since you can whistle for a horse at any time, there's not much point. Money's still useless for the same reasons above, though reopening the tunnel network is the best fast-travel system in the game.
- It's back again in Assassin's Creed: Revelations, and this time there's even less of an excuse to have it around then in Brotherhood since the fast travel tunnels are already available from the start.
- At least it makes sense that a banker's son would be inclined to attempt economic warfare against the Templars; even if it has no in-game effects, the idea's a sound one and it can feel satisfying.
- And it's back yet again in Assassin's Creed III, with your own village and crafting system, which lacks a tutorial and is hard to figure out by yourself. You can also send caravans of goods you crafted/hunted/found to shops, earning money.
Turn Based Strategy
- Gangsters. Legal and illegal. Illegal earn more, but you have to launder the money.
- Taipan: One of the earliest. The player is a "Taipan" (merchant prince) in the Far East in the nineteenth century. Inspired loosely by the novel of that name.
Wide Open Sandbox
- Some of the Grand Theft Auto games, since at least Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
- The Godfather has the player expand the Corleone family's protection rackets around New York, contributing to an automatic weekly paycheck.
- The whole point of the X series
- In the Saints Row series, the more territory the player controls, the more cash they get in their "stash" back at their crib. Originally, this was only done when completing missions and activities, but in the third game, the player does this largely by purchasing property, which increases the amount of cash they get per in-game hour. Purchasing stores also gives the player a significant discount in said stores.