I can’t remember ever being offered the chance to act as a billion-dollar pharmaceutical company does. I imagine this involves producing different drugs to reduce patients’ exhibiting symptoms of ailments as simple as the common cold, to as niche as liver gout, all the while competing against other pharmaceutical companies and managing the production line to meet the requirements of the market. Well, Big Pharma provides you with this unique simulation, and while it may sound strange to act as a large pharmaceutical company at first, once you get past the lengthy and complicated learning curve that is discovered via playing through the tutorials, there is a great management simulator to play here.
Big Pharma is a management strategy simulator game where you manage the role of, that’s right, a big pharmaceutical company. The game allows for multiple presets from where you can start your match, including different difficulty settings. From here you can also choose which objectives you will need to meet to win. For instance, one such objective is attaining an operating profit of $150,000.00 over 12 months, to be finished within 9 years. All of these objectives have time restraints and will have you competing against the clock or with other AI controlled pharmaceutical companies.
You will have to keep an eye on the products they produce too, as this will sway the saturation of the market and therefore the demand for the product, which will affect price levels and, in turn, affect profitability. This may sound more complicated than it is, and you soon get used to the different elements at play here. But know that there are many elements to master in Big Pharma, and it’s nice to see a great level of depth to almost every aspect of the gameplay to boot.
You’ll begin by producing basic drugs such as antihistamines and painkillers, but through increasing or decreasing the material concentration level you can change the level of its intended effect and negative side effect, even changing things entirely. Amending an antidepressant to an anti-anxiety pill could be the key to victory if the market demands that specific product.
Using the space in your warehouse (increasing the space when possible) you will manage your production line with machineries such as dissolvers and pill-makers, tool belts and raw materials, all in the hope that you can produce drugs of all types. The deeper you go with the complexity of the drug-making process, the more complicated it will be to keep track of your processing cost, but, on the flip-side, the more profit you will make from the drug you produce.
You can also send out explorers to discover new raw materials which can be manipulated to create new types of drug. Alongside this, there are research trees where you will be able to use researchers to develop new machines that will do a great many things with your drugs. Furthermore, Big Pharma gives you the opportunity to expand your factory floor and carry out expeditions in more geographically diverse locations such as deserts and forests. As you can tell, there are a fair few mechanics to get to grips with here, which brings me onto my main issue with Big Pharma.
I found there to be a steep learning curve when it came to playing through the tutorials and when learning all of the mechanics mentioned previously. The tutorials, while they do present the right information, are also presented as a piece of writing, rather than interactive goals which you can use to get to grips with the game quickly. I had to re-read a lot of the information to understand what I was supposed to do rather than having the game show me, and then allowing me the chance to demonstrate that understanding. As well as this, because there are so many elements to keep an eye on during any game, a sense of being overwhelmed and intimidated by how much the game expects of you is front and centre.
Big Pharma on Xbox One is a complicated game, especially to begin with. There are many elements to come to terms with and many more factors to get your head around. But once you do begin to understand what this game has to offer, I found there to be a great business management simulator here. It’s something a little different and is a title that has had a lot of thought and effort put into it – that is certainly appreciated.