Looking for some of the best management games to put your organizational and leadership skills to the test? These games are all about being the one in charge, and we all think we’d do a better job. If, like us, you also want a shot at being in the hot seat, we’ve found the best management games to let you do just that.
All of the above is why the genre remains one of the most enduring and popular in PC gaming – and it helps that managing balance sheets, planning cities, and bossing staff around is so easily translated to the keyboard and mouse. From the early days of city-building games like SimCity to refining tactics in Championship Manager, through to the more recent classics we’ve got below, the humble management sim accounts for some of the best PC games of all time – not to mention the most addictive, so here’s our pick of the best management games right now.
The best management games on PC in 2023 are:
Football Manager 2024
It doesn’t get much more managerial than being at the helm of one of the world’s biggest football clubs. FM24 didn’t seem like it had much planned for this year, but as our FM24 review states, it has a bunch of new features that improve the experience massively. FM24 enables players to transfer saves from previous entries in the series, gives you much more control over positional play, and a complete agent overhaul gives player transfer a much more realistic feel.
If you’re a series stalwart, check out our most difficult FM24 challenge saves, and if you want to curate the most lifelike football manager experience, we have a guide on how to import FM24 kits and logo packs, so your team looks exactly how they’re supposed to.
While management games like The Sims let you manage every aspect of a person’s life, right down to what they get up to in the bathroom, shifts the perspective back a little and puts you in charge of managing a whole colony of people after crash landing onto an alien planet.
What happens after this crash is partially up to your management skills. However, it’s also up to the tragedies that are dealt to you by the AI Storyteller, which hands disasters to you at a regular cadence, ranging from simple thunderstorms to vomiting livestock. So, while you might be up to handling the practicalities of this, the individuals in your colony will all react in different ways, ensuring every game plays out differently.
This game has been getting plenty of updates since it left early access. You can read our RimWorld review if you want to know what we thought, and we also reviewed the Royalty expansion as well. There’s also a great selection of RimWorld mods available if you want to spice things up, and the game can even be played in multiplayer (sort of).
Dyson Sphere Program
Dyson Sphere Program is a great option if you’re looking for a more relaxing management game. The aim is to build your base from the materials across the galaxy, to research new technology and ultimately create the Dyson Sphere to harness the power of the stars.
It’s similar to games like Factorio and Satisfactory in that you need to build conveyor belts to link buildings together and make materials through them, but there are no enemies or things that can destroy your stuff. The only bad things that can happen are that you can run out of resources or have a holdup on the conveyor belts.
It’s a great little time sink, and there’s great joy in working out exactly how buildings work with each other. We like it so much that we’ve produced a beginner’s Dyson Sphere Program guide to explain how to play it!
Frostpunk mixes management with the harsh challenges of survival games. You have to manage people, yes, but the goal isn’t to make money – it’s to make it through each bitter night without condemning your citizens to a sudden and chilly death.
From the creators of This War of Mine, which is similarly about a group of people trying desperately to survive under horrifying circumstances, Frostpunk deals with nothing less than the end of the world. There are a few classic tropes used in post-apocalypse games, and in this one Earth is freezing, which means the group under your control has to build steam engines to stave off the cold.
Sound simple? It would be, except half the time you’re not managing a society – you’re managing your morality. You’ll soon find yourself sending frostbitten workers to their deaths to clear out a bit of snow or executing your citizens because they dared to disagree.
As we say in our Frostpunk review, this is one of the best management games on PC. Not just because it’s different, but also because it holds a mirror to your own actions like no other game – and you might not like what you see.
The Tropico games are city builders like SimCity, except they have you managing a tropical island conquered by a dictator. SimCuba, if you will. But rather than being grim, these are some of the funniest management games out there.
You look after every aspect of your island, including where you get your money, exports, and relations with other countries, and make sure the workers don’t revolt – and if they do, will you placate them or mercilessly stomp out their revolution? What makes the Tropico games distinct in the genre is that you can succeed by keeping your population happy or subjugated under your brutal regime.
The reason to play Tropico 4 over any other game in the series is that it’s the most well-rounded of them. Each entry does a good job of improving the formula but Tropico 5 complicated matters by trying to go in a different direction. With Tropico 4, you have the freedom to rule your island with an iron fist – or not. The choice is yours, El Presidente.
Despite developer Colossal Order comprising only nine people, Cities: Skylines manages to easily outshine most other city creation sims by taking the genre back to its roots – offering freedom, scale, and simple building mechanics.
The game’s smartest idea is that it disposes of any need for individual building placement. Instead, you choose a ‘style’ and spray-paint structures onto the ground. It’s satisfying to behold your city just pop up in front of you.
Despite the straightforward attitude to building, don’t mistake Cities: Skylines for being easy, as there are plenty of interconnected components to manage and hundreds of ways for things to go wrong. There’s no Godzilla to go on a rampage – although there are disasters – but Cities: Skylines is the true heir to the SimCity legacy. Plus, you can expand your experience thanks to the huge number of Cities: Skylines mods available to download for free.
When Bullfrog created Theme Park in 1994, the studio probably didn’t realize it’d give birth to a whole sub-genre of management sims. With Theme Park unlikely to get another game any time soon (see SimCity or Dungeon Keeper instead, or EA’s back catalog in general), it was up to others to dominate this small sub-genre. And Frontier Developments did – first with Rollercoaster Tycoon, and then with Planet Coaster.
Planet Coaster is the ultimate theme park designer game. The level of freedom is unparalleled. You can do everything from raising the price of crisps by a penny to creating entire, elaborate rides. You don’t just pick a ride, shove it down, and alter the height of the tracks – in Planet Coaster, you can design an entire experience from scratch, limited only by your imagination. We’ve seen fantastic, elaborate rides based on Aliens, Moonraker, and even a whole park that looks like Minas Tirith from Lord of the Rings.
Planet Coaster lets you micromanage your park at every level, and we do mean every level. It’s had a steady stream of official content and thousands of mods since release, too, so there’s a terrifying mountain of gameplay to be had here – and none of it is boring.
Two Point Hospital
Not long ago, Bullfrog’s classic Theme Hospital would’ve been a cinch for this list, but then a young upstart came and knocked it off – although, in this case, it’s a game by several of the original’s developers. Two Point Hospital takes everything great about Theme Hospital and brings it right up to date.
What both games have in common – and what made Theme Hospital so particularly enduring – is gameplay that anyone could get their hands on and enjoy within minutes. Managing a hospital could easily be made too tricky, or too depressing, but Two Point Hospital makes it joyous. One floor, simple drag-and-place controls, uncomplicated items, and the simple goal of curing patients and keeping everyone happy. Then someone’s sick in a bin, the De-Humorifier blows up, or a failed patient comes back from the dead seeking revenge. All in a day’s work at Two Point Hospital so you better know how to deal with it all.
As we say in our Two Point Hospital review, everything escalates after the gentle intro and soon becomes properly challenging – but this management game never loses its humor. It’s cute in the same way Wallace & Gromit is, with plenty of ridiculous diseases – and cures – and the DJs on the tannoy only add to the entertainment. Just make sure to check under the snack machines as that’s where those pesky Monobrows lurk.
Factorio is all about building and maintaining factories on the alien world you’ve crash-landed upon. While initially about survival, harvesting resources by hand as you do in Minecraft, and fending off the dangerous wildlife, Factorio quickly expands beyond that. It allows you to create massive industry centers, with production lines, automated machines, and solar-powered robots.
While Factorio could be too complicated for some, once you get into designing and managing your factory, you’ll soon find the hours slipping away. It’s not the most attractive game on this list, but Factorio is probably the most addictive. We live in the hope that the developer will finish it someday.
Stardew Valley lets you mingle with the locals and take a break from the stress of making decisions. But don’t be fooled: while on the surface it looks like an RPG that would be published on the Super Nintendo, this is a pure and gripping management game – just one that’ll get your hands dirty for once.
Inspired by the likes of Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing, Stardew Valley has you manage a farm that was left to you by your grandfather, which you can do with whatever you choose. You can grow crops and raise livestock, make a thriving jam business or enter the nearby caves to fight slimes that you can breed.
But there’s so much more to do outside of that, too. Head into town and you can make friends with the local villagers, or even start a romantic relationship. There are also quests to earn extra Stardew Valley money, a huge map to explore, and you can work on restoring the town hall if you want to be charitable. Stardew Valley is one of the loveliest farming sims available on PC. Just make sure to manage your time most of all as this game will eat it up. Plus, if you want to extend the experience then you can install a bunch of the best Stardew Valley mods.
The Sims 3
The Sims was a phenomenon when it first hit our PCs in 2000. SimCity creator Will Wright’s little people simulator gave us the chance to fully manage the lives of a family. You can build their house, get them jobs, help them fall in love, and remove the ladder from their pool, and watch them drown, it’s all part of The Sims experience.
While there are four games in the series so far we suggest playing The Sims 3. The Sims 4 is still lacking a few crucial features, although you can enhance the experience with the best Sims 4 cheat codes or enable some of the best Sims 4 mods. The Sims 3 still reigns supreme for the ability to travel to other neighborhoods and manage them too, and the high level of both developer and mod support.
The Sims 3 is a well-rounded package that still looks good today. Just try not to name Sims after your close friends or family as that doesn’t usually go well – ‘What do you mean you locked me in the basement?’ Agh!
Jurassic World Evolution 2
Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis was far too long ago. Thank goodness, then, that Planet Coaster developer Frontier turned up to make a modern version of the classic dinosaur park management sim. The original Jurassic World Evolution lets you breed, care for, and unleash dinosaurs on unsuspecting visitors, and the sequel keeps much of what made the first game so compelling.
Frontier brings the incredible extinct creatures to life with fantastic animation and sounds that are so superb you’ll think your name is John Hammond. Keeping the dinosaurs happy, and meeting the demands of your department heads, is a full-time job.
Jurassic World Evolution 2 is a thrilling dinosaur game that will please fans of the franchise and the original, although, as our review points out, it’s not without its issues. Not that it becomes a chore when there are so many pretty dinosaurs to watch.
Frontier’s take on the theme park management game was to infuse every prop, tooltip, and soundtrack beat with an unerring and infectious sense of joy. Thankfully, their approach to zoo management games is no different. You could spend hours just marveling at your park’s critters and watching them go about their daily routines, and while keeping them happy and healthy feels like its own reward, the uptick you’ll see in visitors and donations is pretty neat too.
The experience for new players has been improved immensely, with some superbly simple tools and a tutorial-cum-story hybrid that teaches you the game while still allowing you plenty of freedom. There’s also a lot more diversity to the financial side of this zoo management sim, as you’ll need to earn conservation credits to acquire rare species. This takes some of the emphasis away from running the park like a heartless capitalist and ensures the only way to grow your zoo is to make it a good place for your animal residents.
Farming Simulator 22
Now, when it comes to farming, we know little when it comes to the agricultural variety. We’re much better suited to the farmer’s life when we’re doing it in space, as we would in Destiny 2. This is precisely why Farming Simulator 22 is one of the best kinds of management games: with a deep tutorial that gets us started in one of the most complete farming games ever, we know everything we need to when it comes to owning a real farm, maybe.
With a welcome graphics upgrade to make living off the land an even prettier – if still smelly – experience, Farming Simulator 22 boasts more vehicles and tools than ever before. In case you didn’t believe in the sheer detail on show in the series, check it out in practice with our Farming Simulator 19 diary to see how we fared. Spoilers: it didn’t go well.
So there you have it, ten of the best management games on PC, a genre particularly suited to our favorite platform. If you’ve played all of these games we’re astonished you have the time to eat, sleep, or even breathe, let alone read a feature like this. Still, if you do love having no spare time – and don’t mind commanding armies instead of workers – you can also check out our list of the best strategy games on PC. Just don’t start with Civilization… alternatively, our best building games or crafting games guides may take your fancy if you like getting in on the action firsthand, instead of delegating.