Medical Trials: Big Pharma Beta Open To Pre-Orderers

Look at it go!

The real treat of TV show How It’s Made is watching production lines whizzing parts around, washing and squeezing and roasting and compressing and mixing and drilling them along a series of conveyor belts. In games, a well-designed Factorio is a treat to observe, Infinifactory is a lark, and I would adore a walking simulator set around an endless procedurally-generated production line. Druggy game Big Pharma [official site] is also available for your production line fantasies.

You can now research, design, refine, and producing medicine as the management/production sim is offering beta access to folks who pre-order. You know, like Early Access but not on Steam.

Alec had a short play of Big Pharma this year, enjoying sending folks into the rainforest to discover new ingredients, researching drugs, trying to improve them, and fitting the machinery necessary for all this into factory space. Oh, and you’re also trying to stay afloat as a business.

Pre-ordering at the discounted price of $19.95 (£13) will get you a beta build to download now, plus a Steam key when the game’s eventually done and comes out. Here’s what’s in the current beta, and what’s on the schedule to arrive soon. And here’s a trailer:


  1. Didero says:

    Ooh, this looks like a fun game to satiate that desire for seeing things move purposefully around!
    Going to have to keep an eye on this…

    • Mansen says:

      I’m having a blast with it – Lot of trial and error figuring out the right concentrations to maximize the curative effects, while keeping the negative side effects away… and more importantly, keep turning a profit. Too much fiddling and the production costs will likely outweigh the sales prices.

      • trjp says:

        So nothing like the ACTUAL pharma industry which just makes any old shit and hides the negative results under the sofa?

        Call me disappoint…

        • SirDeimos says:

          I won’t call you disappoint… I’ll call you ignorant, and a fan of low hanging fruit opinions.

          I’m in the pharma industry and deal with the regulations required to bring a drug to market, and I work closely with the FDA. The industry and FDA make safety and efficacy the top priority above all else. The snake oil days haven’t been around for decades. The amount of safety and tox studies done during development of a drug would baffle you. And don’t forget most new drugs never make it to market because they fail safety studies along the way, often after a company has spent hundreds of millions on the project.

          • Uglycat says:

            Ben Goldacre’s ‘Bad Pharma’ begs to differ.

          • SirDeimos says:

            One person who is making tons of money off of a book and promoting its shock value should not be regarded as a selfless crusader preaching the truth. The multitude of lives improved by the science he hates so much quiets his claims about how broken it is. He shows such disdain for cherry picking data, but then does exactly that with his outdated and carefully selected examples. Every system has flaws of course, and it would be naive to ignore financial influence. However, the financial gain is what drives the research and development. Lastly, the pharmaceutical industry is one of the most regulated industries on the planet. And I can tell you personally the FDA cares most about patient safety, and any notion of wining and dining them into serving the financial good of the pharma companies is preposterous.

          • TechnicalBen says:

            I would say they are two ways of looking at the same problem. Not an argument or fight between the two. But one saying “half empty” and one “half full”.

            So Ben (not me, the other Ben, Dr Ben), would say we have made improvements but have a lot more to do to get to where we need to be.

            As an example I would guess (as I’m no Dr/Brain surgeon) that while we have worked hard to remove the negative effects, we need to do more to remove the false or redundant claims on ineffective treatments. That’s the main focus Ben Goldacre seems to have, on the few and sometimes prevalent cons that appear.

          • trjp says:

            One person who is making tons of money off of a book and promoting its shock value should not be regarded as a selfless crusader preaching the truth.

            ^^ this only shows you’ve not read it but clearly have been primed on the off-pat replies to it ;0

            I doubt he’s making “tons of money” – he still practices as a GP, not something a rich man would do – and any shock value comes from someone daring to tell industry, academia, doctors, AND patients that they ALL need to buck their ideas up because it’s ALL just not good enough.

            Industry takes the brunt of it because it’s at the core of withholding information, creating illness where it doesn’t exist and generally causing unnecessary suffering and death (all in the name of making money) – but he makes it clear that plenty of other people could do a lot more to make things better (publishers, doctors, patient groups, individual patients – pretty much everyone).

            This and his previous book are less about ‘scaring people’ and more about ‘teaching people how to spot “lies disguised as science” – that alone is a great thing to be doing imo

            He also makes a point of speaking to groups of people who are basically opposed to what he writes about – he present’s his material alongside conflicting speakers – he allows people to make their own mind up and he’s very popular because he’s making people actually ‘do better’ – even if they don’t agree with what he says.

            We need more Ben Goldacres in this world – because if nothing else he engages people just as he’s done here.

  2. Premium User Badge

    samsharp99 says:

    It actually works out at £16.90 by the time they’ve added VAT for us in the UK.

    • Mansen says:

      You can hardly blame the developer or even RPS for your local tax laws, Samsharp.

      • Premium User Badge

        samsharp99 says:

        I’m not blaming the developer or even really RPS (as £13 is the equivalent of $20ish) – only pointing it out to those interested in the UK as the article quoted the price at £13.

        It looks like a great game and after having a lot of fun with Factorio I’ll probably pick it up at some point!

    • Pantalaimon says:

      Even ignoring the VAT the price is being hiked pre-purchase by the shop they’re using, as usual. I swear they must think anyone using GBP is any easy mark. Switch to dollars and use Amazon if you can, you still pay VAT but they won’t grub you for a conversion fee (you still pay a non-sterling bank fee, because banks).

      Often Amazon Payments will convert the charge to your currency but I guess the outlet they’re using isn’t specifying that as an option which is pretty annoying.

  3. MrPete says:

    Funny thing that the idea of procedurally-generated production lines in a factory walking simulator immediately appeal more to me than the game.
    Kinda like against the wall with production lines to follow around with robot arms taking/packing/loading a product? Take my money!
    This looks like it could fill the gap until someone comes up with that factory simulator, though ;)

  4. BlackeyeVuk says:


    • Tiax says:


    • Wisq says:

      An okay comparison, but still quite different. My problem with Factorio was twofold:

      One, here I am trying to make these factories while I’m being attacked. Building big factories that produce cool stuff (e.g. using the appropriate Minecraft mods) has typically been a fun and relaxing activity for me, and it turns out I wasn’t nearly as keen on doing it while under direct pressure from the environment.

      Two, as I recall, most of the factory elements in Factorio went back towards fighting off the attackers, or powering / rearming systems that did, meaning that there didn’t seem to be a lot of point to a more sandbox-style game mode.

      This seems like it solves both of those — by bringing back the more relaxing approach of “I am building to improve my status” rather than “I am building so I don’t die”, and by having the metagame be a business management sim (where more money is always useful) rather than simply staying alive.

      • Ethaor says:

        There’s mods in Factorio to remove the threat and render your game entirely peaceful. Seems like in Big Pharma the threat is bankruptcy. It’s just nice to have constrains to challenge the player, not to mention objectives to work towards. But I totally understand your point of view.

      • theslap says:

        Yes look at the peaceful mods. I personally dislike the route that Factorio chose to add so much defense but I can understand the appeal. I play on peaceful and it’s fun. You can even invade the resident alien camps after you’ve upgraded your weapons/armor just to prove your prowess.

  5. Dante80 says:

    One of the first and best experiences I had with capitalism 2 was buying a chemicals site, an oil well, making a plastics factory and then producing cough syrup and cold tablets like mad and selling them to privately owned drug stores.

    This is nothing like that. I will enjoy it too though..XD

  6. Wisq says:

    Bit of a shame it’s not on Steam Early Access, as that’s a nice way to easily stay up-to-date with beta builds.

    On the other hand, with only a few (heavily modded) exceptions like Kerbal and Minecraft, I find it’s generally best to avoid playing early builds at all. My style is to play through a game once, “hard” — i.e. a concerted effort over a few days rather than returning to it over many weeks/months — and so I find I rarely feel the urge to return to games I played during alpha/beta.

    So, probably best I just hold off for the Steam release anyway.

  7. kalzekdor says:

    Was browsing their website, and found this interesting little disclaimer:

    *medications are entirely a virtual construct manufactured during a computer game. Actual value of medications is zero. Actual ability to cure real known problems is zero.Twice Circled and Positech Games provide no warranty as to the suitability of PC strategy games to cure diseases, real, virtual or entirely the figment of players imaginations. Do not play Big Pharma whilst operating heavy machinery. Consult your doctor before playing any other, lesser strategy games. terms and conditions may apply, they usually do, and nobody ever reads them. Your mileage may vary. Use as part of a calorie controlled diet.

  8. socrate says:

    is it just me or is this price a bit steep for what it offer i mean in this age of game flooding steam every week…this is a bit high for the graphic,gameplay and early access entry they offer…that said it might change but…MIGHT is a big word…ive never really seen a factory that you can actually just stretch the wall all over the place…and while the economy aspect is nice i mean…its not like it require a gazillion dollars to setup

    i guess ive just been spoiled with factorio and minecraft overall with mod and all…i mean capitalist 2 did these kind of thing and transport tycoon and all these old game still hold up pretty well,while this doesn’t seem to offer that big of an improvement graphically or economically…maybe its just not for me…