How The Business Strategy Game Works — A Quick Overview

In The Business Strategy Game, 1 to 5 class members are assigned to operate an athletic footwear company that produces and markets both branded and private-label footwear and competes head-to-head against footwear companies run by other members of the class. As many as 12 companies can compete in a single industry grouping (class sizes above 50 are typically divided into two or more industry groups). The companies compete in a global market arena, selling in four geographic regions—Europe-Africa, North America, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America.

The co-managers of each company are responsible for assessing market conditions, determining how to respond to the actions of competitors, forging a long-term direction and strategy for their company, forecasting upcoming sales volumes, and making decisions relating to:

  • Production operations (up to 10 decisions for each plant, with a maximum of 4 plants)
  • Upgrading plants and expanding/reducing plant capacity (up to 6 decisions per plant)
  • Worker compensation and training (3 decisions per plant)
  • Shipping and inventory management (up to 8 decisions each plant/geographic region)
  • Pricing and marketing (up to 10 decisions in each of 4 geographic regions)
  • Bids to sign celebrities to endorse their brand of footwear (2 decision entries per bid)
  • Corporate social responsibility and citizenship (up to 6 decision entries)
  • Financing of company operations (up to 8 decision entries)

Each time co-managers make a decision entry, an assortment of on-screen calculations instantly shows the projected effects on unit sales, revenues, market shares, total profit, earnings per share, ROE, unit costs, and other pertinent operating outcomes, enabling co-managers to evaluate the relative merits of one decision entry versus another. Company managers can experiment with many different decision combinations in in arriving at a decision combination and set of actions that seem likely to yield good company performance. In addition, there are 2-4 minute video tutorials for each decision screen and comprehensive Help sections that explain cause-effect relationships, provide tips and suggestions, explain how the numbers in the company and industry reports are calculated, and otherwise inform company co-managers how things work.

Each company typically seeks to enhance its performance and build competitive advantage via more attractive pricing, a bigger selection of footwear styles and models, more appealing footwear styling and quality, greater advertising, bigger mail-in rebates, contracting with celebrities to endorse its brand, providing more merchandising and promotional support to retailers, shorter shipping and delivery times, and more aggressive promotion of online purchases at its Web site.

Any and all types of competitive strategy—low-cost leadership, differentiation, best-cost provider, focused low-cost, and focused differentiation—are viable options. A company can try to gain an edge over rivals with more advertising or a wider selection of models or more appealing styling/quality or bigger rebates or securing more appealing celebrity endorsements, and so on. It can focus on one or two geographic regions or strive for geographic balance. It can pursue essentially the same strategy worldwide or craft slightly or very different strategies for each of the four geographic regions. It can alter its emphasis on selling branded shoes through footwear retailers or at the company’s Web site. It can place more or less emphasis on winning bids to produce private-label footwear for chain retailers.

Each company’s performance is based on a balanced scorecard that includes brand image, earnings per share, return on equity investment, stock price appreciation, and credit rating.

You have the option to schedule 1 or 2 practice rounds (2 is recommended) and anywhere from 4 to 10 regular (scored) decision rounds (6 to 10 rounds are better than 3-5 rounds). Each decision round represents a year of company operations and takes roughly two hours for company co-managers to complete. Decision rounds can be scheduled weekly, bi-weekly, or at whatever intervals instructors wish. Sample schedules for courses of varying length and numbers of class meetings are provided.

When the instructor-specified deadline for a decision round arrives, the BSG server automatically accesses the saved decision entries of each company, determines the competitiveness and buyer appeal of each company’s product offering relative to rival companies, and then allocates sales and market shares to the competing companies, geographic region by geographic region, based on:

  • how each company’s prices compare against the prices of rival brands,
  • how each company’s footwear styling/quality compares against the quality of rival brands,
  • how each company’s product line breadth and selection compares to those of rival companies,
  • how each company’s advertising effort compares to rivals’ advertising, and so on for a total of 11 competitive factors that determine unit sales and market shares.

There’s no built-in bias favoring any one strategy and no “secret set of strategic moves” that are sure to result in a company becoming the industry leader. BSG is a “competition-based” strategy simulation exercise where the outcomes are always unique to the competitive interplay among the specific decisions and strategies of each group of competing companies. Which strategies end up delivering the best performance in any given group of 4 to 12 companies that are competing head-to-head always depends on the competitive interplay among the specific decisions and strategies of rival companies—there absolutely is no “magic bullet” strategy or prescribed set of actions that will guarantee good company performance.

Company co-managers can access the results of the decision round 15-20 minutes after the decision deadline. Rankings of company performance, along with a wealth of industry and company statistics, are available to company co-managers after each decision round to use in making strategy adjustments and decisions for the next competitive round.

All The Business Strategy Game activities for class members and instructors take place here at


The Teaching/Learning Benefits of Using The Business Strategy Game

There are three exceptionally important teaching/learning benefits associated with using a competition- based simulation like The Business Strategy Game:

  1. Having class members run a company in head-to-head competition against companies managed by other class members provides a truly powerful learning experience that thrusts class members squarely into an active, hands-on managerial role. The co-managers of each company are totally responsible for assessing market conditions, determining how to respond to the actions of competitors, forging a long-term direction and strategy for their company, forecasting upcoming sales volumes, and making decisions relating to workforce compensation and plant operations, capacity expansion, distribution center operations and inventory management, pricing and marketing, finance, and corporate social responsibility/citizenship.

    Because company co-managers are held fully accountable for their decisions and their company’s performance, they are strongly motivated to dig deeply into company operations, probe for ways to be more cost-efficient and competitive, and ferret out strategic moves and decisions calculated to boost company performance. It doesn’t take long for company co-managers to become emotionally invested in figuring out what strategic moves to make to out-compete rivals. Such diligent and purposeful actions on the part of company co-managers translate into an engaging learning experience with strong retention of the lessons learned and higher achievement of course learning objectives.

    To provide you with quantitative evidence of the boost in learning power and achievement of course objectives that occurs with using The Business Strategy Game, there is a built-in Learning Assurance Report showing how well each class member performs on 9 skills/learning measures versus tens of thousands of students at some 600+ campuses worldwide that used The Business Strategy Game in the past 12 months.

  2. The competitive nature of a strategy simulation arouses positive energy and steps up the whole tempo of the course by a notch or two. The healthy rivalry that emerges among the management teams of competing companies stirs competitive juices and spurs class members to fully exercise their strategic wits, analytical skills, and decision-making prowess—much more so than occurs with many other types of assignments.

    Nothing energizes a class quicker or better than concerted efforts on the part of class members to gain a high industry ranking and avoid the perilous consequences of getting outcompeted by class members running rival companies. It is hard to duplicate the excitement and hallway chatter that occurs when the results of the latest decision round become available and co-managers renew their quest for strategic moves and actions that will strengthen company performance.

    Participating in a competition-based strategy simulation is an unusually stimulating and enjoyable way for class members to learn. As soon as your students start to say “Wow! Not only is this fun but I am learning a lot”, which they will, you have moved the value of taking your course to a much higher plateau in the business school curriculum. This translates into a livelier, richer learning experience from a student perspective and better instructor-course evaluations.

  3. The automated nature of The Business Strategy Game reduces the time instructors spend on course preparation, course administration, and grading. Not only are administrative requirements for using BSG quite modest, but since the simulation also involves a 20 to 30-hour workload for student-teams (roughly 2 hours per decision round times 10-12 rounds, plus optional BSG-related assignments), adopters often compensate by trimming the volume of other course assignments (often those that entail considerable preparation and/or grading on the instructor’s part). Grading for The Business Strategy Game is effortless and takes only minutes. Once you enter percentage grading weights for each BSG activity in your online grade book, an overall numerical grade is automatically calculated for each class member.

    Course preparation time is further cut because you can use several class days to have class members meet in the computer lab to work on upcoming decision rounds or a 3-year strategic plan (in lieu of lecturing on a chapter or covering an additional assigned case). Lab sessions provide a splendid opportunity for you to visit with teams, observe the interplay among co-managers, and view the caliber of the learning experience that is going on.

    The speed and ease with which you can conduct a fully-automated strategy simulation for your course frees time for other activities. Plus, every task can be performed from an office or home PC that has an Internet connection and an Internet browser.


Features, Cost, and Payment Options

$ 44.95 per student
Complete Strategy Text + Simulation + Optional Cases
$ 114.95 per student
Simulation Features
Full Instructor Access to All Materials
at No Cost
24/7/365 Online Availability
Built-in Voice Chat and Shared-Screen
Collaboration Capabilities
(Team members can have online meetings to talk, text, and coordinate decision entries and view reports; instructors can join these meetings)
Windows & Mac Compatibility
3-Year Strategic Plan Option
2 Built-in Quizzes
Team Member Peer Evaluations
Scoreboard of Company Performance
Player's Guide
Instructor's Manual
Integrated & Automated Gradebook
Learning Assurance Report
Features of Accompanying Text
Strategy: Core Concepts and Analytical Approaches, 2012 Edition

by Arthur A. Thompson
The University of Alabama
12 Chapters, 242 pages
(a slimmed-down version of Crafting and Executing Strategy, published by McGraw-Hill)
Exercises Linking Chapters to Simulation
Chapter Quizzes / Multi-Chapter Exams
Learning Assurance Report
Integrated & Automated Gradebook
PowerPoint Slides for Chapters
View more details on the digitally-delivered text
Optional Cases
26 Digitally-Delivered Selections,
Each with a Comprehensive Teaching Note
(additional cost of $5.00 per case per student)
Three Payment Options
(click for more details)
Credit Card
Pre-Paid Access Code
Direct Billing

The Learning Assurance Report

The Learning Assurance Report provides you with solid empirical data regarding the business skills and decision-making capabilities of the students in your class relative to students at other business schools across the world.

The report provides you with credible evidence about the business proficiencies of your students on each of 9 measures that are precisely defined at the bottom of the report. The three measures relating to "Leadership Skills", "Collaboration & Teamwork", and "Financial Analysis Skills" are based on each student's individual performance as viewed by their company co-managers and their performance on Quiz 2; the other 5 measures are all based on data relating to the performance of the group of co-managers comprising each company in the simulation. The percentiles shown in the report are based on the total population of students worldwide playing The Business Strategy Game over the past twelve months.

View Report


Create an Instructor Account

Explore the Instructor Center, and determine whether The Business Strategy Game is suitable for your course.

Creating an account is welcomed and entails no obligation. Establishing an account entitles you to browse the site in the capacity of an instructor or "simulation administrator", preview whether The Business Strategy Game is suitable for use in your course (or company training program), and enables you to launch use of BSG in a course or training program for which you are the official instructor or facilitator or other duly authorized assistant. McGraw-Hill will verify your credentials and, in some cases, it is possible that a McGraw-Hill representative will contact you by phone or e-mail soon to confirm your status.

User Agreement

Should I adopt The Business Strategy Game for use in my course, I agree to require every student enrolled in my course to register a student account at the BSG Web site ( and I agree to encourage student respect for the intellectual property and copyrights of the authors and the publisher, McGraw-Hill.

I understand that BSG will inform me via e-mail when there are important system changes, program updates, or special events that impact the use of The Business Strategy Game in courses that I am teaching.

   I accept the terms of this user agreement.
in addition to the Terms of Use.

( Click here for more information on why every student should register.)