Dreaming of running Cover Girl, L’Oreal, Elizabeth Arden or Bobbi Brown Cosmetics? For those few folks who want to be a cosmetics CEO when they grow up, Beauty Factory requires keeping track of research and development, production and sales and marketing, providing players with a simulation of the life of a retail executive minus the chauffeur, dream office and golf meetings.

Beauty Factory doesn’t clone games like Sally’s Salon or Belle’s Beauty Boutique except for the fact that all three cover the same industry: spas and salons. Unlike the others, Beauty Factory takes a tycoon-style approach where you micro-manage various aspects of the corporate side of the business. Had the game gone the whole nine yards, it would’ve better lived up to its potential.

You’ll begin the game by creating an avatar where you choose the hair color, hair style, face and skin tone. You can also add accessories like glasses or jewelry. Give your company a name and you’re in business — if only it were that easy in real life. The game comes with two modes: in "Start the career" you have one goal, to raise your company’s value as high as possible to beat the competition. "Find the Challenge" comes with four choices:


  • Get rich: Earn $200,000 within 400 weeks.



  • Be an inventor: Create all products within 300 weeks.



  • Conquer the top: Land in the top 10 for all cosmetics within 500 weeks.



  • Varied challenges: Complete 10 missions.


    I began with "Start the career" mode thinking it would provide a full experience creating all products and upgrading every part of the business including the office, production, R&D (research and development) and sales & marketing. It didn’t. I managed to create three products (perfume, eye shadows and lipstick) and upgrade everything to level two with one reaching level three.

    You can’t create products until you have enough money to make the product, but for most products, you must reach level two in R&D. By the time I earned enough money and reached level two, I was close to meeting the goal. Luck had nothing to do with my reaching the goal after only creating half of the six products, and I never had the chance to create nail polish, powder and mascara.

    It felt like Beauty Factory‘s career mode only offers half an experience instead of letting me create all six products, upgrade the facilities and paint the rooms. However, the "Varied challenges" sub-mode lasted longer, allowed the creation of more products and provided ample opportunity to upgrade all areas of the business. Try all game modes before settling on the one that best works for you, and save often.

    Not only do you stay on top of current trends — which change every few weeks — but you also modify the product formulas based on trends, pay attention to intelligence regarding the competition, adjust production orders, watch for industry news that can affect advertising and sales, study sales and inventory charts and reports, and invest in promotional campaigns. It sounds like too much — much like a CEO’s job, perhaps — but it doesn’t take much time to get the hang of all the information with help from the tutorial and the hints that appear when you point the mouse cursor over any item.

    One feature that seems redundant is the Production / Sales window that provides information on what items are in production and what items are for sale. This information is already obvious based on what you see in the dashboard on the bottom of the screen.

    The rooms in the building, which are similar to the Sims’ style "outside looking in" view, also showed the seasons changing outside their walls. Though I didn’t admire the scenery or offices much, they provide a nice background along with the music (not elevator music, thankfully) to absorb you in the world of a retail corporation.

    Despite the rough start, the game improved as soon as I found the right mode to play. Don’t tell the kids, but business-style simulation games offer people a fun way to learn how business works even when they’re not real world situations. No matter your career, Beauty Factory brings in a fresh face of the beauty-related games in its approach of actually simulating running a business rather than racing around the salon trying to keep customers happy. Here the customers are far away from the walls of the cosmetic company; instead you rely on numbers and sales to ensure your company climbs to the top of the Beauty Fortune 10 list.