Simulation games are one of the most expansive and popular game genres. It’s also one of the most popular on mobile because the tap-and-swipe controls translate well on touch screens. They’re easy to play, fun to engage with, and some of them can last for years. Simulation games are fairly easy to explain. It’s a game where things happen automatically and you just kind of push things along in certain directions with your decisions. The idea is to emulate a specific activity.
The challenge is the expansiveness of the simulation genre. You can simulate virtually anything and thus you have tons of subgenres such as flight sims, life sims, city builder sims, survival sims, farming sims, sports sims, and all kinds of other sims. That makes a best list difficult to compile because there are so many choices across so many topics. Still, we’ll try our best. Here are the best simulation games for Android!
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Price: Free to play
AltLife is a text style life simulator. It starts like most life simulators. You are born, grow up, make decisions about life, and ultimately die someday. The game lets you make various decisions and keeps track of your life stats such as happiness, appearance, health, etc. The game lets you make decisions and branches out from there. It’s a super basic game with no graphical appeal whatsoever. Those looking for something closer to The Sims can try out The Sims: Mobile or The Sims: FreePlay, two relatively more modern life simulation games.
Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp
Price: Free to play
Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is a social simulator. It doesn’t simulate anything in particular but people tend to agree that it does simulate things. Players are dropped on an island and while there, they make friends with the local wildlife, build up a camp, explore the area, craft stuff, and do more things. The Nintendo Switch variant is a lot more in-depth, but the mobile version will scratch that itch as well. The mobile version includes over 1,000 pieces of furniture, 300 articles of clothing, and over 100 animal friends. People love this one even if it’s a free to play game.
The Escapists 2
The Escapists 2 is mix between a strategy and simulation game. You live in prison and you want to break out. Players live the daily prison life, including going to the exercise yard, eat food, and all of that jazz. However, in the background, you’re secretly plotting your escape. The game has a variety of prisons to escape from and a variety of ways to escape from each one. The first game in the series is still quite good, but is slightly less refined than the second. We recommend either one, honestly.
Price: Free to play
Fallout Shelter dominated headlines back in 2015 when it came out. It’s lauded for its fun game play, classic Fallout quirkiness, and excellent freemium strategy. In this one, you build a fallout shelter and populate it with dwellers. The dwellers do various jobs to keep the vault going. They also interact with each other in a variety of interesting ways. You can even have them make some babies if you want to. The idea is to create the best vault ever, explore the wasteland, and create a thriving community of living people. This is definitely one of the older simulation games on the list, but it’s still the best example of its particular play style within the genre so it gets to stay.
FPV Freerider is one of the drier simulation games on mobile. It doesn’t have nearly as much to do, but it’s truly great at what it does. It’s a flight simulator for drones. It supports both line of sight and first person view while flying and it gives the game an intense feeling. Players can take off, fly around, fly through little obstacle courses, and do some fun trucks. The game also supports hardware controllers. You’ll need a more powerful phone to maintain high frame rates with high resolution graphics, but you can always turn the graphics down to heighten the frame rates. The developer also helpfully lists controllers other players found to be useful. It runs for $2.99 with no additional in-app purchases or ads. PicaSim is another great option for RC aircraft flight sims.
Game Dev Tycoon
Game Dev Tycoon is one of the newer simulation games on mobile. It’s technically a port from PC, but that doesn’t make it bad. You start out with nothing and slowly build a huge game studio. You improve your skills, make various decisions, and try to sell the best games. It’s one of a few game developer sim games. However, this one seems to check all of the right boxes. It’s also a rare pay-once game with no in-app purchases. The mobile version includes a piracy mode, an updated story line, and touch screen controls. This game is also free to play if you use Google Play Pass.
Price: Free / Varies
Kairosoft is a developer on Google Play and one of the undisputed masters of the simulation genre on mobile. The developer’s portfolio is stacked with good titles, including Grand Prix Story 2 (racing sim), Dream House Days (life sim), The Ramen Sensei and Cafeteria Nipponica (cooking and restaurant sims), Game Dev Story (game developer sim), The Manga Works (publisher sim), and at least a dozen others. Most of the games are premium and run for around $5.49 while others may be free to play. Most of the games use the same retro style graphics and some similar mechanics, but you really can’t go wrong with any of them.
Mini Metro is a retro style subway simulator. Players spend their time designing a subway map for a growing city. You must overcome various obstacles to create something that runs smooth and on time. The city you’re developing for grows randomly so each game is different. Additionally, the game includes a variety of upgrades, an endless mode to just relax and chill, and an extreme mode for some added challenges. The graphics are nothing to write home about, but this one is otherwise outstanding. It runs for $0.99 with no in-app purchases or ads so it’s also great for simulator fans on a budget.
Motorsport Manager Mobile 3
Price: $3.99 with in-app purchases
Motorsport Manager Mobile 3 is a racing sim. Players build a racing team, a race car, and and manage things like upgrades and improvements. You then race against the competition. This one gets fairly granular as well. Players have to plan for things like pit stops, weather changes, rule changes, and random crashes on the tracks. Your driver and crew also gain levels and are more proficient in certain things than others. It’s one of the deeper racing sims on Google Play and it’s also relatively new. It goes for $3.99 with some optional in-app purchases as well.
Price: Free / $3.99
Pocket City is a city builder sim similar to Sim City. Try saying that one three times quickly. It has most of the mechanics of a city builder. That includes the actual construction of a city, the careful mixing and matching of various types of buildings, and the ability to unlock new land as you go. This one also includes fun, random events like block parties and also things like weather disasters. It’s playable in portrait or landscape mode and it’s also playable offline. The free version is the base game with advertisements. The premium version goes for $3.99 and contains extra features, a sandbox mode, and it removes the ads. This is easily among the best city building simulation games on mobile. Those looking for something more classic can try SimCity BuildIt, but we think Pocket City is a better SimCity on mobile.
RFS – Real Flight Simulator
Price: $0.99 with in-app purchases
RFS is a pretty good flight simulator on Android. It’s also one of the most in-depth with tons and tons of things for players to simulate. Some of the features include weather changes, a day and night cycle, the ability to create complex flight plans, a relatively advanced and realistic HUD, and some other elements. The pro version is expensive but that’s where things get interesting. It adds in multiplayer support (with a chat). However, it also lets you drop into actual flights happening right now all around the world and simulate their path to their destination. We thought that was a really cool feature.
Price: Free to play
Rebel Inc is one of the newer simulation games. It’s by the same developers of the insanely popular Plague Inc and we recommend either one. Rebel Inc puts you into an area with a ton of unrest. Your goal is to squash the rebels, bring peace to the region, and help the region grow and prosper. There are seven regions to stabilize and the game simulates all kinds of insurgent tactics for you to deal with. Those who prefer not to deal with terrorists can also try Plague Inc where you try to infect the entire planet with a virus.
Price: $5.99 with in-app purchases
Rollercoaster Tycoon is one of the great simulators in gaming history. The game gives you a scenario and an amusement park. You build the park in such a way that it satisfies the requirements of the scenario. Players can custom build rides, determine the layout of their parks, and even hire security guards and janitors to maintain the place and keep it safe. The mobile version of the game comes with all the content from Rollercoaster Tycoon and Rollercoaster Tycoon 2 along with some optional DLC purchases to add more. There is a free to play version of Rollercoaster Tycoon on the Play Store along with a second one, but the classic version is so much better.
Stardew Valley is a mixture of various genres, including RPG, life sim, farming sim, and social sim. The player is dropped into a dilapidated farm they must restore over the course of the game. There is a nearby village where you can court would-be significant others and a plethora of mini-games and quests to keep things interesting. It’s not quite as realistic as Giants Software’s Farming Simulator 20, but we think it’s a bit more well-rounded overall. The game runs for $6.99 with no in-app purchases and you can play it free if you use Google Play Pass.
Star Traders: Frontiers
Star Traders: Frontiers is technically a strategy game. However, we included it here because it has a lot of simulation elements. You are essentially simulating the career of a space inhabitant. You’ll explore new planets and new sectors while you form alliances with various factions or go at it as an independent contractor. The game is very deep and allows you to play in a variety of ways. You can be a pirate, a military combatant, or even just trade stuff if you want to. It’s wide open and a really fun world to be a part of. The game costs $6.99, but has no other in-app purchases or ads.
If we missed any of the best simulation games for Android, tell us about them in the comments! You can also click here to check out our latest app and game lists!