April 5, 2023
If you thought about getting rich in the film industry, Moviehouse – The Film Studio Tycoon will show you how. Start writing scripts and directing your own films to reach the pinnacle of the film industry. You begin at the start of the 1980s and go forward in time, progressing through the evolution of film and adapting to the changes.
Making films is a tough process, and it takes several months to create a film that’s ready, let alone one that is good. Ironically, while making films will get you started, your main income will eventually come from taking over other movie studios. The user interface also struggles when you work with multiple staff, resulting in a management simulator that feels fun in the beginning, but quickly loses its spark.
Moviehouse – The Film Studio Tycoon starts just like any business simulator game. You create a studio, hire a script writer, then a producer to create a movie. You desire to be at the top of the industry, and must work your way up from the bottom. The film industry isn’t static and evolves over time, adding additional pressures. Your distribution methods change along with customer trends, and you must adapt to these changes or run out of business.
The process of creating a movie is simple but time consuming. You must write a script, determine a location, and choose the character roles. When the script is ready, produce the movie by selecting filming venues, hiring actors, and focusing on certain filming aspects. Movies don’t just promote themselves; you must perform some marketing or your earnings at the box office will be pitiful.
Gameplay is similar to Game Dev Tycoon, where you select prompts and move sliders to create your vision. You control the variables necessary for your success, and work your way towards creating a good film. As you gain more knowledge, you unlock more genres for new movies. It gives you something to work towards, even though what you unlock might push you towards certain locked categories.
“It’s tough to unlock everything, but making a great movie through your efforts makes everything worthwhile.”
Writing and producing isn’t all you need, and you must have crews that improve your movies. Crews can find new filming locations, create props, and attach props to filming locations. This helps improve a movie’s quality, though the locations and props you uncover are random. It slightly undercuts the concept, since you are hoping your next discovery is actually relevant to your movie. But once the pieces come together, it’s easy to raise your movie’s quality and you can standardise the process.
While you only have a few movie genres to work with, you unlock more through research. You are actively encouraged to make movies of different genres, matching popular trends to make more money and get more research. You also unlock more character and location cards, which allow you to find the optimal settings and character pairings. Research is also crucial to cutting costs and unlocking new ways to reach audiences, which provides an incentive to monitor research progress.
Unfortunately, a big problem with the game is its pacing. While making films is an understandably long process, you spend most of your time waiting around. You only get one writer and director at first, and you must constantly produce if you want something to happen. Crews work with you to improve your filmmaking but that takes time as well. Most of the game is spent waiting, which is boring if you want to be more active in the production process.
It’s also bad when finding out a movie’s results at the box office. A movie can be great, average, or terrible, but you won’t find out quickly. Making changes to a new movie draft is tough, since you don’t gain the ability to rewrite scripts or reshoot movies until later. Even if you do, writers and producers can get offended, which will make the resulting changes worse. It’s hard to remember any changes and there’s a risk when making them, which cuts into your learning process.
The pacing becomes a problem when you must deal with cash flow. Since movies take time to prepare and earn money, it’s easy to go into the negatives since you don’t know a movie’s financial return. There is a solution: purchase shares in other film studios to get passive income. Your films will not do very well until you get the proper sets, props, and production aspects down. That income tides you over on a rainy day and even funds your future movie ventures. It’s great to have an alternative way of earning money that doesn’t involve getting bank loans or investors, but it is a double-edged sword.
As fun as it is earning passive income, it feels counter-intuitive to beating your competitors. You can just pump out mediocre films to earn money for shares. Upgrading to a larger studio also requires you to buy shares, which means film quality stops being important. While creating films is still the core of the game, it’s not enjoyable when your success is independent of the films you make.
There’s value in working hard to create a great film, or realising that you can’t succeed if your next film isn’t great. Creating a financial buffer with investments is well-intentioned, but it turns the focus away from making a great film to just being rich. Becoming a rich tycoon is the point of any management simulator, but if you aren’t getting rich by making good films, why be a film industry simulator?
The user interface also struggles to keep up as you expand. When you hire multiple writers and producers, organisation goes out the window. You don’t get to combine talents; it’s still one writer and one producer per film. The result is a constant barrage of notifications and mixing up assignments becomes a common problem. Managing the mess isn’t impossible, but you feel like it could be improved upon, especially because expansion is inevitable and it’s a core part of the game.
Moviehouse – The Film Studio Tycoon has a good foundation for a management simulator based on the film industry. There are good ideas that help make the game engaging in the beginning, but some long term consequences weren’t properly thought out. The result is a game that loses its appeal shortly after expanding, and the charm that keeps you in a simulator quickly disappears.
- Changing times force you to adapt
- Putting together a film is fun
- Unlocking new genres and set pieces keeps you engaged
- Not much to do while a movie is being made
- Buying shares slowly defeats the point of making a good film
- User interface doesn't handle expansions well
Moviehouse – The Film Studio Tycoon is an ambitious attempt at showing the ups and downs of the film industry. You gradually work your way up the ladder and producing great movies feels good. It’s a pity the game suffers from some issues that weren’t foreseen or accounted for. The charm of creating a good movie disappears when you realise you can make more money from buying out other studios. As your studio gets bigger and you hire more people, the user interface struggles to keep track of the relevant details. It’s a fun game at the start, though the long time it takes to produce movies can wear you down. For a simulator that passes some time, this will be great, but it does need some more refining to be a good management experience.