Welcome to Startup Company, where you will be in charge of everything that goes into today's most successful tech companies. Hovgaard Games' first entry into the gaming world is a simulation game much like Game Dev Tycoon or GameCorp DX but focuses on the online tech company side of things. Stock trading, crafting, contracts, and deadlines set this one apart from the competition though and will have you itching to make a passive income.
Startup Company is currently in early access and can be found on Steam or their website for $9.99.
You make your own story depending on the path to success you take. Do you become a competitor to "TheTube" (YouTube) in the video sharing space, or do you take on "Amazine" (Amazon) in the shopping sector? It's all up to you, but don't worry, a few new desks or hires and you can change your companies direction at will. Just be careful not to overspend in the process and end up where a lot of startups find themselves, penniless.
Like most simulation style games, you will be spending time waiting for something to happen that requires your attention. If you like more of a micromanagement sim, you are in luck! There is always something that needs your attention, whether it's the hiring/firing process, recruitment, building, HR, or contracts, your attention will be pulled every which way. This is not a bad thing in my opinion, but once you get the hang of the game, there are definitely ways to become more macro than micro.
Since you are a tech company, regardless of the route you take, you need Developers writing the code and core components for the online world. Starting with a Sales Executive allows you to acquire contracts for other companies and this will lead you to hire Devs to start work on these raw components, as the game calls them. You will need to fulfill contract requirements to gain enough money and experience to unlock other types of workers, like the Lead Developer, who will take the raw components and make them into modules, or tools to get your company really flowing. As you progress, you may need many different types of raw components to make an advanced module from an Expert level higher up. There are 9 different types of employees you can have at the moment, and not all of them need another type to function. What every low tier employee needs are Managers, which in turn needs an HR Representative. Managing all the different types of employees can and will get hectic, forcing you to skimp in one area so you can make that new contract requirement you just unlocked.
This is a very viable option to make money, albeit at a slower pace. Once you push your way to hire more types, you will hit the current buildings limit, which starts off at eight workstations. You can make some pretty decent cash in quick time with this size of an office, but eventually, you will need or want to upgrade to a bigger building. There is currently a twenty and fifty workstation building you can move into, which I found to be sufficient stepping stones in the growing process. Once you upgrade to a new building though, you will lose all your furniture, getting a full refund, and have to rebuy them for your new place. There are also decorations and benefits you can purchase, in addition to workstations, that increase the productivity (speed) of your workers. I never needed more than thirty-eight employees at a time, and even downsized eventually.
Once you get proficient at nailing contracts, some which you have to bid for against your rivals, you can move onto making your own product. There are only four available right now (Social Media, Shopping, Video Sharing, and Streaming Service) and I truly hope they add a couple more since options are never a bad thing. At this point, you will need a fleet of employees from every category to develop the core systems, work on marketing, upgrading your servers, and researching new features to implement. Start small and simple to get a steady cash flow, then roll out upgraded releases with more functionality to gain more hype and more users. If you would rather not dive into this complex mess, you can always purchase stocks in a company of your choice and get a share of their income. A portfolio for each is provided to let you make the right choices for your level of income. Almost like real life.
Since this is a beta, there are negatives aplenty. While I have not run into any bugs that stopped me from progressing, there are some graphical errors, like desks clipping through walls. Probably the biggest issues I have with the game currently is the difficulty and lack of end game. I played for three hours and had progressed to the point of no longer needing to do any more contracts or research. All features were unlocked and the highest tier of Framework (which decides how many features and upgrades your products can have) was available. As long as I kept up on my Hype for each product I made, my passive income only increased. At this point, I spent most of my time watching the happiness of my employees and it became increasingly tedious to send people on vacation to keep their happiness up. This prevents them from quitting and there should be a way to handle this. Luckily, this is an open source game that already has a mod out to take care of the vacation problem. Hopefully this function will make it into the next version.
I was pleasantly surprised with the look of this game once I loaded it up. Everything is clean and detailed but being a sim game, it doesn't need next gen graphics. The ability to rotate objects to face any of the cardinal directions is awesome since, even in 2017, many games do not provide this feature. The different windows are easy to navigate and find what you are looking for. Your typical isometric simulation game, but I will have to say, I do approve of not going the pixel art style. Sound wise, you will experience music reminiscent of SimCity 3000 and the typical office ambiance. Keyboards clicking, notification sounds of work being done. Exactly the type of audio I want in my sim games, nothing overbearing or worthy of the mute button.
It is early for Startup Company, being developed my one man in Denmark, but the potential is there. If he can give us more options for products, add some difficulty options, and provide something to do in the end game, this should be a great addition to the management simulation genre. Until then, I would keep an eye on the progress and wait for more content, as three to four hours will essentially just get you an idle game with annoying vacation management. But if you like betas, watching them grow, getting your hands on the latest version, and helping a dev with feedback, $10 is not a bad asking price.