A couple of months ago, I reviewed a business simulation game for juniors called Dinorama. It’s a fun and casual game designed for juniors ages 7+. Its endless gameplay forces juniors to manage their time, money, resources, and attention. If you want your juniors to learn a bit about business while building their own Dinosaur theme park, I suggest you check the game out.
As much as I enjoyed playing Dinorama, I prefer to play games with finite turns which require you to perform proper planning of your money and resources. I have more appreciation for games that reward good decisions rather than quick hand-eye coordination. An example of such a game was Pizza Tycoon. Now, I am so thrilled to have found a similar game on the iOS: Motion Math: Pizza!.
Run Your Own Pizza Restaurant
Motion Math: Pizza! is a business simulation game suitable for juniors ages 8+. Players are assigned to run their own pizza restaurants by selling their own pizza designs and competing for the highest possible profits at the end of the 40-day selling season.
The game has a nicely designed gameplay tutorial built into the first few business days. By walking through the tutorial, players learn about the three elements of planning, two steps of selling, and the evaluation phase at the end of the day.
In the planning phase, players start by designing their own pizzas. They mix the ingredients, name their products, and set the pricing for each of them. Just before opening up the store, players can drive to the nearby market to shop for the ingredients.
Once the store is opened, players will take the role of the restaurant cashier. To keep things simple, the restaurant only offers take-outs. Customers will come and form up to three lines.
Players need to tap the customers at the front of each line to take their orders. The players must then calculate and type the exact order amount into the cashier register. Afterwards, they drag the stack of pizza to fulfil the order.
This is the most intense part of the game, because it determines how much sales can be generated for the day. Each customer has a patience level shown by the green bar on top of their avatars. When it runs out, the customer will leave.
To avoid losing too many customers, players need to have a really good (and quick) mental math calculation skill. Players only have 1-2 seconds to calculate each order’s total.
At the end of each day, players can evaluate how well they’re doing for the day. Profit is calculated as sales minus water, gas, and ingredients used. The player’s cash will be increased by its sales revenues minus the amount spent on purchasing ingredients in the market.
As the game progresses, new ingredients will be introduced, allowing players to create better and more expensive pizzas. New ovens will also be available for purchase, alongside other upgrades to the storefronts that can bring in more customers each day. New sellers will compete on ingredients pricing, allowing a more calculated player to gain benefit of cheaper ingredients.
The game will continue for 40 business days. You can stop any time and pick up where you left. The game allows you to create multiple profiles, and compare high scores with the other players. At the end of 40 days, you can restart the game after registering your score to the high score leaderboard.
Parents Need to Know
In addition to the mental math skills required to work as the restaurant cashier, players must also have good entrepreneurial skills if they want to succeed in this game. In total, there are seven aspects of entrepreneurship that players can practice:
- Pricing Your Product. Setting it too low will not yield maximum profits. On the other hand, selling it too high will make you lose sales. The customers in this game are quite price sensitive, and they can complain about pricing too.
- Listening to Customer Feedback. Players are given three menu slots to design their pizzas. If your pizzas can’t accommodate all types of customers, you will lose a lot of sales due to customers not finding the ones they like.
- Inventory Planning. If you fail to restock enough ingredients, you will lose many sales too. On the other hand, if you restock too aggressively, you may miss an opportunity to invest in better equipments and/or marketing efforts.
- Investing on Better Equipments. Better ovens have a high return-on-investment (ROI) rate. They allow you to create more expensive pizzas which yield better profit margins. On the other hand, the new pizza design may require you to increase your inventory restock level too.
- Marketing Budget. Having better storefronts really help invite new customers every day. Keep in mind that you may also need to increase your inventory restock level.
- Price Comparison. This game teaches you to do your due diligence. Shop comparison is a must every time you’re going to the market. The game even notifies you when you make a bad decision.
- Customer Bargaining. Sometimes, the game may surprise you by offering an alternative selling experience. Instead of paying the exact amount of their orders, customers can now come and bid any amount for the pizzas they want. You need to calculate whether they are under-bidding or over-bidding. Just make sure you don’t fall into a bad deal.
Things I Like
I really like the way the game is designed to punish the players when they’re making a bad decision. Players can lose a lot of money too, especially if they’re making too many incorrect decisions during customer bargaining mode. The game even includes a trending graph showing your daily profits to motivate you to always do better.
Throughout 40 days, the game gradually increases the difficulty levels. Customers start to be more picky in the pizza design and pricing, and market sellers even more competitive. If you’re not careful, there will be many days when you do not profit as much as you had hoped for.
After playing a full 40-day session, here are several playing tips that first timers can benefit from:
- Price your menu properly. A pizza should sell for less than twice the ingredient costs. Customers will complain it is too expensive otherwise.
- The cashier game is a game of speed. Name your menu with shortcuts that make it easier for you to remember their prices and calculate the totals. For example, instead of naming it Pepperoni, name it Twelve instead. The game doesn’t allow you to use numbers as the pizza name, so writing the words is the best cheat.
- Price your menu in $5s or $10s. It’s much easier to calculate (25+10) than (26+11). If you’re still having problems with this trick, maybe you should try pricing all the menus exactly the same.
- Pay attention to customer feedback when creating a new menu. Generally new ingredients need to be included. Specific customer requests may include: more pepperonis, more eggs, or more mushrooms. This highly depends on how balanced your menus are.
- Each day, there is a price change for the ingredients. If you’re aiming for a fixed price menu, you may need to adjust the ingredients for each menu on a daily basis. If you do, always have a higher restock level on all ingredients to avoid lost sales due to bad inventory planning.
- Whenever possible, upgrade your ovens first. It allows you to add more ingredients to your pizza, increasing its price and your profit. Don’t forget to double up your inventory restock level.
- Once you have upgraded to the largest oven, you can start putting up other upgrades. These will lead to more transactions per day. Again, don’t forget to increase your inventory restock level.
- When doing a shop comparison, always calculate the unit price for the pepperoni. Don’t use the cheese or mushroom for comparison. Use a calculator if you need to.
- Customer bargaining mode is a two-edged sword. It can be the most profitable day if you get it right, but if you get too many bad deals it can quickly erode your profits.
- To avoid losing customers, always pay attention to the long lines. Try to serve the customer on the longest line first. Sometimes, emptying a line will help reduce the length of the longest line as the customers would move to the new empty line.
As a reference, my final menus include $20 mushroom/pepperoni/egg pizza, $40 spicy fish pizza, and $50 premium prawn pizza.
Motion Math: Pizza! is the best business simulation game for juniors ages 8+. To succeed in this game, juniors are required to have excellent mental math calculation skills and a great business sense.
Juniors are also required to pay attention to product design, product pricing, customer feedback, inventory planning, investment on better equipments, marketing budget, price comparison, and customer bargaining. If your juniors are already able to count simple multiplication and division, this game is a must-have.
App was provided for our honest review.