Learn To Run A Television Studio With Empire TV Tycoon

Ever wanted to be a television tycoon? To be honest, neither had I until I played Empire TV Tycoon [official site]. Okay, I still don’t, not really, but Dreamsite Games’ business management game has enriched me with the know-how so that if ever I decide to make the leap from floundering freelance writer to media oligarch I can.

Yeah, that might be a slight exaggeration but Empire TV Tycoon is good fun. Whereas some simulation games lean heavy on realism Рrecords, numbers, statistics and whichever other brain boggling variables they can supply Рsome fall back on on engaging systems which, although perhaps more on the lighthearted side, make sense within the bounds of the game itself. Of course, games of this ilk can go way past that marker and end up (literally) in the toilet, but Empire TV Tycoon is a game that understands itself and its limitations and is all the better for it.

The aim of the game, as you might’ve already guessed, is to build a successful TV channel and get more ratings than the competition. As you and your rivals vie for top viewership, you’re judged by the popularity of your individually selected time slots, whereby you must choose to run TV shows, feature-length films and ads. Whoever hits pre-determined ‘levels’ of fame in each stage wins. Throughout this process there’s plenty of talk of “matching content”, “demographics”, “ad revenues” and a lot of other marketing-speak bollocks that you unfortunately have to pay attention to, but what makes it bearable, and in turn what makes Empire TV Tycoon enjoyable, is choice – there’s never an immediately obvious way to go about besting your rivals.

Empire TV Tycoon is out now for Windows and Mac on Steam at £7.49 thanks to a launch discount.

So, what have I learned about selling the concept of television to the public? Can I interest you in a look at the game’s release trailer:

See what I did there?


  1. Askis says:

    This looks like a copy of a game I played back in the 90s.
    Multi-story station building, with a little screen for what you’re running and one to represent the audience on a couch at the bottom, slotting in your shows, producing your own, I just can’t remember what it was called.
    Of course there were no Breaking Bad references back then…

    • golem09 says:

      It was called Mad TV, and it was brilliant. And yeah, I immediately had to think about it too.

    • golem09 says:

      It was called Mad TV, and it was brilliant. And yeah, I immediately had to think about it too.
      I also liked that the goals was NOT commercial success, but the opposite: to find love. You always had to sacrifice ratings for showing culturally important stuff to impress the girl of your dreams.

      • Askis says:

        Yup, that’s the one.
        Since it’s 24 years old, there’s probably nobody left who cares if this is a remake with a different name.

    • Klingsor says:

      Same here: saw the screenshot and immediately thought they’re going to do a remake of Mad TV. What a fantastic game that was.

      • Archonsod says:

        It’s not quite a remake, though the developers make no bones about it being the main source of inspiration. Calling it a modern take on MadTV wouldn’t be hugely outside the ballpark though.

  2. April March says:

    I’m pretty surprised they got to use the names of real TV shows.

    I’m not surprised that they crammed so many references that I’d probably spend most of my time scratching my head about why people keep saying stuff that’s only barely related to what’s happening.

    I’m surprised that a DVD pirate has the balls to sell them directly outside a TV station, to the TV station owner.

    • aepervius says:

      Probably nobody saw it. Using a trademark is very iffy and can land you in hot water. Remember when those guy which had you in a plane crashing in an island for a survival game had a lufthansa plane logo on it ? Remember how quickly they removed it ?

      I am betting the owner of the trademark don’t know about show name being used.

  3. Troubletcat says:

    For some reason I’m amazed this isn’t another bloody early access game. Props to the devs for finishing their game before releasing it.

  4. Lightbringer says:

    This seems like a blatant ripoff of Mad TV. It probably helps that its original publisher, Rainbow Arts, was bought by THQ, which neither doesn’t exist any more.
    Somebody even made a Browser version of that game:
    link to madtv-online.com

    • Troubletcat says:

      It’s probably ok to clone games from 1991 with no real modern successors and no sign of any on the horizon though, right?

      • AngoraFish says:

        It’s not copyright infringement so long as they’re not physically cutting and pasting the original graphics or code. Trade-mark infringement with respect to some of the TV show names, on the other hand, might be a bit more iffy.

      • zaphod42 says:

        Okay in what sense? Legally, yeah. Morally, ethically, no. You can copy the idea without wholesale stealing the style.

        • Wisq says:

          Honestly, I think it’s perfectly moral and ethical. Fans of old games are constantly asking for remakes, and if the original developer/publisher is in no position to do so (or at least, has shown no inclination to do so in almost 25 years) then kudos to whoever does it. It’s no different than Xenonauts, say.

  5. fencenswitschen says:

    MadTV is one of my favourite games off all times. It was a German game by Ralph Stock, published by Rainbow Arts in 1991 as quoted before. The website of Empire TV tycoon says, it is “inspired by games like Mad TV”, but that is a very big understatement. The whole concept is almost 1:1, even the music has the exact same baseline. See this German Let’s Play for comparison:

    But do not get me wrong, I very much appreciate a new MadTV and I will have to try Empire TV Tycoon. I only wish they would be much more honest about what this copycat game is.

    And somehow I am a little disappointed that RPS does not even seem to know about the all-time classic MadTV, which seems to me like a major disturbance in the force. But I guess it was never that popular on the British Isles (it had a terrible English version anyways).

    Here is a short introduction to the game in English:

    • darkwhite says:

      And somehow I am a little disappointed that RPS does not even seem to know about the all-time classic MadTV, which seems to me like a major disturbance in the force.

      This! When I read the article, I expected the words “MadTV” to appear sooner or later, but in the end RPS deeply disappointed me.

      Will subtract 10 Wow!-Points from the awesomeness-score for RPS as a result.

    • marceloabr says:

      Exactly what I was thinking. This is a Mad TV clone and RPS didn’t even mention it!

    • padger says:

      Ah, give Joe a break, he’s new and… a senator for Indiana? link to en.wikipedia.org


  6. zaphod42 says:

    Looks like yet another knock off of Tiny Tower, down to the graphics and UI. Lazy.

  7. jgf1123 says:

    Anyone think it’s weird that a TV studio spends a lot resources making movies instead, you know, TV shows? The making of a movie is one big ball of stress, but once it’s done, it’s done. With a TV show, you have to think about whether to cancel a show (*cofffireflycoff*), how much budget to give it next season, stars getting into trouble that disrupts production, whether the show has jumped the shark, negotiating syndication, etc.

    Really, I want a game based on the Canadian TV show, The Industry (a.k.a. Made in Canada). Intrigue, drama, romance… and that’s off the set.

  8. RegisteredUser says:

    Same here, expected RPS to START WITH mentioning Mad TV (and MUD TV, the horrible attempt by/through Kalypso), instead it does the same thing as every other place I’ve seen it crop up: neglect mentioning the origin.

    What a shame.