There’s an old saying that “good artists borrow, but great artists steal”. When it comes to it’s premise, Greenheart Games definitely borrowed a lot from Kairosoft’s Game Dev Story when they developed Game Dev Tycoon. Its impossible to not draw comparisons to the two, as they are quite literally virtual siblings from different parents. At its core, Game Dev Tycoon is a fun distraction that never quite learned from the lessons of the game that came before it. You will find enjoyment in its premise and eventually with its depth, however you will also find frustration with its opaque feedback and seemingly random review system which completely undermines the entire game.

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Aw Yea! Every game dev’s dream.

Game Dev Tycoon has you founding a game development studio in the comforts of your parents’ garage. The weight of the studio rests solely on your shoulders as you set worth to develop your first game. You choose a ‘topic’ for the game, its ‘genre’, and finally the platform that you wish to target for its release. In the early stages of the game, this is all very simplistic as you only have a few options with regards to the types of games you can develop. As the game progresses, you devote research points to discovering new topics which results in new potential topic-genre combinations. The harmony between a game’s topic and genre is key, as choose two that work well together is vital for your game’s success. In fact, it appears to be the only factor that really dictates the reception your game will receive at the desks of reviewers. While the game’s technology and design scores should certainly affect the game’s review scores, they appear to almost have no impact. In fact, I would argue that the entire review system in Game Dev Tycoon is completely flawed and makes absolutely no sense.

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Screw your 300-employee teams, you just need one guy in his garage apparently.

 

The entire premise of the game to is develop games that release to universal acclaim and critical praise while building a financial empire. That motivation works well but as soon as you remove the sense of understanding of why a game became universally loved or how a game went on to sell a million copies, it all just seems to be completely random. In fact, despite having played this game for a significant amount of time, I still don’t fully appreciate when a game I develop smashes sales records because I simply don’t feel as if I earned it. I have made crap games that went on to get rave reviews, while at the same time carefully designing great games that get completely crapped on. Its difficult to describe, but it feels as if a roll of the dice is deciding the fate of my game more than the decisions I am making during development. That really detracts from the experience, as you want to feel as if you made all the right calls and took all the right risks to make that game a blockbuster hit. That simply doesn’t exist in Game Dev Tycoon, which is a damn shame.

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I guess I should just keep doing what works…

The fact that I didn’t feel as if I was in control of my own destiny really took away from some of the best elements of game. While Game Dev Tycoon starts awkward with its simplistic game combinations and blisteringly-fast game development cycles, once you get out of your garage the game really opens up. Taking on bigger projects with publishers really propels the game into new and exciting places. As you begin to really rake in the cash, you work towards hiring a crack team of developers with diverse skills to really knock new games out of the park. This is where in concept, Game Dev Tycoon improves upon the formula that Game Dev Story put forth a few years back. Researching and developing game engines, determining employee contributions to a project, and assigning areas of focus during development are all incredible additions that push the entire concept forward. These decisions added a sorely needed strategic element to the concept that creates depth and complexity in all the right ways. Its maddening to realize that it all doesn’t really affect anything in the end. If only the review and reward algorithms made sense…

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Hey, now that’s a good idea!

As I alluded to before, Game Dev Tycoon does do several things well. I enjoyed its colorful art style and didn’t mind the bass-heavy jazzy soundtrack. Small touches like being able to outfit your avatar with an argyle shirt are strangely entertaining, and the game’s interface is straightforward and easy to understand. The game’s usability is definitely a strong-point, as it certainly improves the otherwise shaky experience. Its premise is inherently fun, and you will enjoy running your own game studio. We all love gaming, so we all appreciate being able to step into the shoes of a game dev and trying it out ourselves. Its a shame that the game didn’t deliver at its core.

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Game Dev Tycoon Review: A Day Late, Some Code Short
Game Dev Tycoon is a game that fails to deliver on what is an already established winning formula. There's nothing wrong with taking a good idea and trying to make it better, but failing to get the review system right is a huge blow to the game. While Game Dev Tycoon brings several great new ideas to the table, it ultimately fails to provide gamers with the sense of accomplishment that makes management games so rewarding. It may be a patch or two away from being a good game, but for now, its something you may want to wait on.
The Good
  • Fun premise
  • Great development strategy options
The Bad
  • Horribly opaque and non-sensical review system
  • Provides no sense of accomplishment
  • Very derivative of Game Dev Story
6Overall Score
Reader Rating: (19 Votes)
7.3