For a long time now, simulation video games have been one of the most popular video game genres in the world, with multiple franchises selling millions of copies all around the globe. The desire to simulate reality seems inherent to us, and as humans, we crave for new experiences, even those we won’t be able to accomplish in real life.

So, from flying airplanes and aircrafts to running empires, simulation games let us emulate these activities and events in a way that no other medium can. These games have been around for a while, and the original SimCity, released by Maxis in 1989, is regarded as the first ever simulation video game.

The game came up in a very unpretentious way: as Will Wright was developing his first video game, he created a level editor for it that turned out to be more entertaining than the game itself. After researching theories of urban planning and architecture, Wright converted the level editor into a stand-alone game, in which players were tasked to build and manage a city. 

Initially, Wright wasn’t able to find a publisher for the unusual game, but in 1987, he met Jeff Braun and the two founded Maxis, finally releasing SimCity. The game went on to pave the way for a whole new genre that includes today multi-million franchises like SimCity itself, The Sims – both published by Maxis – Sid Meier’s Civilization, and Microsoft Flight Simulator.

Since many studios were forced to shut down operations last year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the development of several games was delayed, which led to release dates being postponed to 2021. Therefore, this year was expected to be a prolific one for gamers, with many anticipated titles hitting the markets.

That couldn’t be different for simulation games, and this article features some of the best simulation titles released – or scheduled to be released – in 2021.

Blooming Business: Casino

Developed and published by Homo Ludens, and scheduled to be released later this year for Microsoft Windows, Blooming Business: Casino is a business simulation game inspired by the rise of Las Vegas in the 1950s, in which players are tasked with building and running their own casinos, by managing all aspects of it, from design to operations, from human resources to public relations.

Blooming Business: Casino also focuses on the narrative around it, and each decision you make, regarding questions like the house edge or how to deal with the customers, can heavily impact the business operation. To keep the cash flowing, you must monitor the needs of staff, customers and VIP guests.

But if you ever grow tired of managing a simulation casino, you can always try your luck in one of the many online platforms available today, or even claim a Hollywood casino promo code, to enjoy classic casino games on your computer or mobile device.

Jurassic World Evolution 2

Scheduled to be released later this year, on November 9, Jurassic World Evolution 2 is a business simulation game developed and published by Frontier Developments for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.

The game is a sequel to Jurassic World Evolution, released in 2018, and it’s set after the events in the 2018 film Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Jurassic World Evolution 2 even features voice acting by Bryce Dallas Howard and Jeff Goldblum.

Just like the first game in the series, Evolution 2 is a business simulation game in which players must build their own Jurassic World prehistoric theme parks.

You’ll need to build enclosures, research facilities, and different rides and amenities to entertain the guests, as well as recruit scientists, rangers, and veterinarians, in order to discover new fossils and keep the creatures happy and healthy. The game features over 75 prehistoric species that can be incubated after extracting their DNA from their fossils.

Microsoft Flight Simulator

Microsoft Flight Simulator is the latest entry in the acclaimed Flight Simulator series, first released in 1982 and still one of the most comprehensive home flight simulator programs on the market.

After a 14-year absence – its predecessor, Flight Simulator X, was released in 2006 – the game was developed by Asobo Studio, and released last year for Microsoft Windows, with a version for Xbox Series X/S being launched in July 2021.

The game uses data from Bing Maps to simulate the whole planet’s topography, and Microsoft Azure’s artificial intelligence to generate 3D representations of Earth’s features.

Upon release, Microsoft Flight Simulator received critical acclaim, being praised for its stunning, accurate graphics, with many critics dubbing it “the safest way to travel during COVID-19”. It won the Best Sim/Strategy Game award at The Game Awards 2020.

Harvest Moon: One World

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Released in March, for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows, and Xbox One, One World is the latest entry in the new simulation series Harvest Moon.

Since 2014, the franchise has been branched into two series: a new Harvest Moon franchise, developed by Appci Corporation and published by Natsume, and Story of Seasons, the original series that was rebranded for international release, developed by Marvelous and published by Xseed Games in North America.

Bringing new engine and graphics to the series, Harvest Moon: One World is a farming simulation game, in which players must turn an old farm into a successful business. You must travel to five special locations, including deserts and snowy mountains, to collect a number of different seeds, which were lost when the Harvest Goddess disappeared from the world.

Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town

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As mentioned above, Story of Seasons is the original Harvest Moon franchise that had to be renamed after a dispute between Marvelous and Natsume, with the first title under this name being released in 2014 for Nintendo 3DS. Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town, the latest installment in the franchise, was released in March 2021 for Nintendo Switch and Microsoft Windows.

The game puts players in control of a character that leaves the big city and moves to Olive Town, a quiet village where their grandfather had an old farm. You’ll need to clear the land, plant crops, raise animals, repair old facilities, and even build new ones, to transform the decaying farm into a blooming estate.

The game also features a new cast of marriage candidates and a town that grows and thrives as you progress in the game.