Follow TV Tropes


A.I.-Generated Economy

Go To

Privatize all factories, mines, and logging camps. 10% of the proceeds will go to your Swiss Bank account and the private buildings will pay you annual rent
Description of the Privatization Edict in Tropico 3

Tired of Video Games economies being managed like Commie Land ones? This trope is for you!

This trope is when sectors of the economy, such as the building of buildings or the training of units, in a Video Games nation are managed by the Video Game A.I., so as to allow more immersion (try telling yourself you are managing a country with free market economics when you are setting the prices of the goods like a Dirty Commie!) and reduce the player's workload; however, apart from issues with performance, the AI can be REALLY stupid.


Subtrope of Gameplay Automation. Compare Player-Generated Economy. Contrast Command & Conquer Economy.


    open/close all folders 

     Four X  

  • Aurora (4X) lets private companies transport civilian passengers, mine planets and asteroids and buy and sell goods, alongside the Empire, who can actually subsidize them.
  • Distant Worlds
    • The universe contains a vast and thriving private economy that the player cannot (directly) control. This economy does many things that other games abstract out. Examples include the transport of resources from one point to another (be this within your own economy or trade with other civilizations) and tourism. These are then taxed by the player's government. Therefore, it is financially beneficial to arrange things so that a private economy develops, even if you can't control the details. In addition, one can delegate large swathes of gameplay to the AI which will automatically manage it, or so that the AI will make suggestions of the player, asking for only a thumbs-up.
    • A major source of income comes from private entities using your unused spacedocks to build their starships. Interestingly enough when things go poorly and pirates and enemy factions start ripping into your empire, the constant need for private fleets to replace their losses can be a huge boon to your treasury. That is, until your economy starts to suffer for it.
  • In Star Ruler 2, the AI will slowly build structures on worlds based on what type of resources you order imported from other worlds; import jewelry, and they'll build banks that generate tax money for the budget cycle, whereas importing oil will build refineries that generate energy for special research and reactivating Big Dumb Objects. Certain resources generate more economic 'pressure' than others or can make several types at once. The AI will also build freighters and civilian infrastructure to support them in trade, and generate small defense craft based on military reserves that can later be assigned to a flagship's fleet.

     Browser Game  

  • Nations in NationStates have private sectors on which their policies can influence, whether for good or for bad.

     Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game  

  • Chronicles Of Elyria: 70% of the characters on a server are Non Player Characters, who are able to craft, write contracts, trade, and gather resources just like players, making them the bread and butter of a political entity's economy. An NPC could even be a member of the nobility and undertake the management aspects that their title confers, setting tax policy and funding infrastructure.


     Real Time Strategy  

  • Majesty : most of the infrastructure of your city - houses, sewers, graveyards, and places of ill repute - is outside your control, and can interfere with your municipal/strategic planning (not to mention spawning sewer rats and undead). So is the control of the heroes themselves, who must be incentivised with bounties if there's any particular place or monster you want them to discover or slay, even if the heroes are hired only on royal order.
  • In Patrician 3, while town councils will not build additional houses and facilities, your AI competitors will.


  • Dwarf Fortress: Showing us the pitfalls of giving the AI controls over sectors of the economy is the Dummied Out eponymous feature: when some conditions were fulfilled, all dwarves were awarded private accounts to spend on food and other items they could buy from shops—except for nobles and legendary dwarves, who could take whatever without spending anything. Dwarves were able to buy shops and sell items in it for their own benefit. This lead to bizarre things like children of nobles/legendary dwarves being poorer than average and dwarves spending all their time counting their coins.

     Simulation Game  

  • Tropico
    • If El Presidente doesn't build enough affordable housing, the Tropicanos will build their own, undesirable shacks.
    • In "Absolute Power", add-on to the third expansion, the player was able to enact privatisation, selling all the facilities to the private sector, which would then have to pay a rent to the State while the selling price would be sent to El Presidente's Swiss Bank Account.
    • In the succeeding expansions the player was able to fundraise money to build a facility, but it had the major drawback that they would get the raw materials for free.
  • Transport Tycoon
    • The towns will automatically develop over time, without your assistance. This includes the building of roads, but you can assist in doing so if you want to coerce the development of a town in a specific way. You can accelerate, but not control, the growth of town buildings by dealing in Passengers there. This is necessary in some cases because towns will only pay for Goods once they build enough high-rise buildings, which only happens once they reach a certain size.
    • The alternate climates in the Deluxe version have additional restrictions. Arctic towns above a certain elevation have to have Food delivered before they grow. Tropical towns in the desert require Food and Water.
    • Railroad Tycoon 3 has an intricate and well developed economic system:
    • There are other rivals companies building their own transport networks like in the previous installments, but the game itself implements an alternative new method: Unpicked goods and materials are gradually moved from their production sites to the places where they are needed, following a supply and demand logic and price curves. This process is usually very inefficient, but depending on the relative locations it can actually feed industries on its own, as the cargo moves slowly inland (very slowly and possibly not at all in mountain terrain), but adequately faster via rivers and other bodies of water.
    • Processing industries tend to spawn in areas with a high concentration of raw resources, simulating private entrepreneurship. These local facilities can outcompete distant ones, as the newly generated demand will be on par with the remote one, making hauling commodities unprofitable, which is not allowed by the game mechanics.
  • In Capitalism, other businesses exist the player can merge with.
  • X-Universe: NPC ships constantly trade goods between stations, though unlike player-owned ships they don't use money to do it. The simulated economy is managed by an engine called "GOD", which will even delete NPC stations that don't do much business (which is why Terran and Pirate weapons factories tend to disappear in X3: Terran Conflict, forcing the player to build their own: there aren't enough sinks for their products). The system returns in X Rebirth, with more complexity as the giant freighters that now do the bulk trading require power from energy stations supplied by the economy.
  • Hidden Agenda features a Chimerica with an agricultural and a commercial sector the player can influe on by instituing policies ranging from free-market to centrally plannification.
  • In CitiesSkylines, while zoning is to be done by the player, building in these areas grow by themselves and shop buy manufactured goods from factories to sell.

     Strategy Game  

  • Victoria: An Empire Under the Sun
    • In the expansion, the Capitalist would be able to fund the building of factories and railroads with their surplus money.
    • In the II with Laissez-Faire policies all factory building is to be done exclusively by Capitalists.

     Turn Based Strategy  

  • Amiga game Global Effect: While you had to micromanage most things like power and sewage and such, the game would build residential areas on its own as demand increased. Sadly, this was actually detrimental, as not only did it take energy (the standard resource you use for everything) from your own supply (thereby keeping you from completing more essential constructions), but it built them completely at random next to anything else you've built. So if you built a long sewage pipe leading waste far away from your planned residential zone, to keep people from getting sick? Surprise, now you have people living right in the middle of the sewage-plant area, or halfway along the pipe in the middle of nowhere. And they want you to provide power and water and roads. Presumably you could change this in the options menu, but due to a genius in the game's design, accessing the options cost more energy.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: