Wall Street Raider Review
Review Of Wall Street Raider
Publisher: Michael D. Jenkins
Wall Street Raider is one of the oldest and best-loved financial games available, but has undergone endless revisions and improvements since it was first released as an MS-DOS simulation back in 1986 by a small Sunnyvale, California publisher. The current (June, 2010) Windows version, like all prior versions, is amazingly realistic and educational, but also dangerously addictive. The realism comes from the author/programmer’s unique background as an economics consultant in Washington, D.C., a Harvard Law school graduate and tax attorney, and CPA who has worked on many larger mergers and other corporate financial transactions with a large San Francisco law firm and a “Big 4” international accounting firm in Los Angeles over the years, all the while being an avid student of the stock and options markets since the 1960’s. Author Michael Jenkins has also authored a million-selling series of small business tax and legal books, and his writing skills and “graveyard humor” show up all throughout the endless facets of this simulation.
Wall Street Raider lets you start off each 35-year game with up to $1 billion dollars, which you can use to either passively invest in stocks of nearly 1600 companies, or in government or corporate bonds issued by many of those companies. Or you can be more adventurous, and speculate by buying or shorting put and call options or five different commodities (oil, gold, silver, wheat and corn), or by short-selling stocks. But where the game REALLY gets interesting is when you use your millions or billions to take over small companies (you’ll need at least 20% of their stock for control) and manage them, using all the tricks of the Wall Street corporate raider’s trade: Tender offers, mergers, spin-offs, liquidations, asset-stripping, junk bond financing or bank loans, stock issuances (IPO’s or private offerings), greenmail buy-backs of stock, LBO’s, restructuring, diversifying by either buying or starting up other companies, filing antitrust lawsuits against competitors, attempts to monopolize an industry, and much more. And, as in the real world, you will occasionally be tempted by certain “ethical scenarios,” where you may be offered opportunities to make a quick buck (or zillion bucks) by doing something sleazy — but don’t break the rules too often, as your bad karma may catch up to you if your dirty tricks backfire — like when your company gets caught cheating on its taxes. You can also serve as the President and CEO of one company you control, which will pay you a salary plus performance bonuses if you can increase the company’s earnings, and publicly-traded companies will also grant you stock options on the company’s stock every quarter. If you are smart and creative enough (with a little luck), you can build massive corporate empires of dozens of companies, and try to squeeze out other players (including a computer player) by fair means or foul.
Playing Wall Street Raider is unlike any other financial game — it is a game of non-stop action, unless you stop the stock ticker that runs across the bottom of the screen, which also slows (but doesn’t completely stop) the movement through the calendar and the scrolling news ticker that otherwise endlessly cranks out headlines regarding events that are occurring in the simulation. These headlines range from economic and political news (changes in Federal Reserve policy on interest rates, wars, recessions, commodity shortages or gluts, and the like), to company news events and transactions by players or companies. These news items can be a source of good investment ideas when you see something happening to a particular stock or commodity, or one of the 70 industries in the simulation. The game is also interrupted from time to time by various major news announcements, some of which are “real,” others misleading — just like the real world financial news.
While all that action is going on, your personal net worth and balance sheet are shown on the screen and are updated second by second, as are a number of economic indicators (such as Prime Rate, government bond yields, GDP growth rate, the stock market index) and spot prices for the five traded commodities. In addition, you can see streaming stock quotes on up to 15 stocks that you wish to monitor, prices of which will be flickering red or green as those stocks fluctuate in value. There are submenus for doing company or industry research, and doing transactions of all types, such as buying/selling/merging/financing/managing/borrowing. Up to 5 players can play the game, taking turns, but Raider it is mainly designed for a single player to play against the computer player, “Wally Raider,” who is cunning and ruthless, and will stomp you into the ground if you get into a weak financial condition by various nasty means, like taking over your bank lender and calling in your loans or filing frivolous harassing lawsuits against your main company.
In short, playing this Wall Street Raider game will not only teach you a lot about the real world of investing and corporate finance, but is a white-knuckle experience for adrenalin junkies, as you try to react to and cope with constant changes, watching a screen filled with flickering stock quotes, news, and constantly changing interest rates, commodity prices, stock market action, and economic indicators. Once you get hooked on this game, prepare to have a lot of long nights on the computer, burning the midnight oil, as you try every trick in the book to get your company’s stock to go up…. Wall Street Raider is so easy to play that even 9- and 10-year-olds play it enthusiastically, but it has a depth and sophistication that has earned it a reputation of being the “ultimate financial simulation.”
NOTE: Version 6.0, which adds commodity trading to the game, will not be released until September 1, 2010. Wall Street Raider runs on all Windows platforms from Windows 95 through Windows 7.