Subscribe to Newsletter
Manufacture Business Practice, Technology and Equipment, Trends & Forecasts

All a Big Game?

A new video game – Big Pharma – will apparently make its debut in 2015. The teaser is somewhat satirical: “What if you had it in your power to rid the world of disease, to improve the lives of millions, to ease suffering and cure the sick… and earn a tidy profit? As the head of your own Pharmaceutical Conglomerate you have this power resting in your hands. Will you use it for good? Being totally altruistic may not be the best business plan […] some remedies are more profitable than others and illness is good for business.”


Is the game just an elaborate attempt to demonize the industry? Designer Tim Wicksteed says that isn’t the case. “Some people are incredibly damning about the pharmaceutical industry, but then others are very grateful because a medicine has saved their life. I’m trying to stay neutral and represent both standpoints. I want the player to make up their own mind about how they build their pharmaceutical business, including the ethical challenges that go with that.”

Gameplay is reminiscent of the ‘Tycoon’ series of business simulation games. In Big Pharma, activities include exploring exotic locations for new ingredients and purchasing machines that can synthesize those ingredients into drug products. Players will have to compete against other companies, who may develop generic drugs at lower prices, and there will also be regulatory bodies and patents to deal with.


Wicksteed isn’t intending for the game to be an entirely accurate representation of the industry and admits that drug synthesis is completely made up, for example. “It’s a little bit cartoony with wacky, over-the-top machines. It’s a game first and foremost, so it has to be fun to play,” he explains. One area that he is keen to portray realistically is the marketplace of drug development. “I find it interesting that pharmaceutical companies have to align the goals of running a profitable drug company with making people healthy. As an example, there would be huge demand for something like an HIV vaccine, but many patients would be in developing nations and unable to pay hundreds of dollars for it. That kind of thing will be represented in the game and will give players a few things to think about. Do you make an HIV vaccine or something that panders to a richer Western market, like anti-wrinkle cream?”

Players will be under intense pressure if they want to progress and make enough money to unlock new machines, and Wicksteed hopes that it will give people food for thought.

“People have asked whether it’ll be possible to sell a drug with a side effect that increases demand for another one of their products. But that might be taking the cynicism one step too far!” says Wicksteed. “There will be ‘bad things’ you can do – but there will always be consequences to those actions…”

Would you play Big Pharma? Drop us a line at [email protected] or tweet @medicine_maker.

Receive content, products, events as well as relevant industry updates from The Medicine Maker and its sponsors.
Stay up to date with our other newsletters and sponsors information, tailored specifically to the fields you are interested in

When you click “Subscribe” we will email you a link, which you must click to verify the email address above and activate your subscription. If you do not receive this email, please contact us at [email protected].
If you wish to unsubscribe, you can update your preferences at any point.

About the Author
Stephanie Vine

Making great scientific magazines isn’t just about delivering knowledge and high quality content; it’s also about packaging these in the right words to ensure that someone is truly inspired by a topic. My passion is ensuring that our authors’ expertise is presented as a seamless and enjoyable reading experience, whether in print, in digital or on social media. I’ve spent fourteen years writing and editing features for scientific and manufacturing publications, and in making this content engaging and accessible without sacrificing its scientific integrity. There is nothing better than a magazine with great content that feels great to read.

Related White Papers
Nitrosamines Risk Mitigation: The critical role of excipients and supplier qualification

| Contributed by DFE Pharma GmbH & Co. KG

Performance validation of ScatterX78 against NIST reference materials

| Contributed by Malvern Panalytical

Early stage product development using laser diffraction analysis

| Contributed by Malvern Panalytical

Register to The Medicine Maker

Register to access our FREE online portfolio, request the magazine in print and manage your preferences.

You will benefit from:
  • Unlimited access to ALL articles
  • News, interviews & opinions from leading industry experts
  • Receive print (and PDF) copies of The Medicine Maker magazine