Legendary SimRefinery game released for free after 30 years in hiding

Back in the early-to-mid 1990s, SimCity and its derivatives seemed to be everywhere. Maxis at one point was pumping out two or three Sim games per year, and after the success of the original SimCity in 1989, we saw the series branch out to a number of different themes – SimTower, SimFarm, SimAnt, SimCopter, SimGolf; the list goes on and on.

While the list of Sim games is definitely a long one, a rare Sim title has resurfaced this week: SimRefinery. After Ars Technica wrote about SimRefinery – which was believed to be lost to time – a couple of weeks back, an anonymous reader came forth with a supposed 3.5-inch floppy disk that housed a prototype of the game. Today, that Ars Technica reader uploaded the game to archive.org, allowing anyone to play it in their browser.

To understand why SimRefinery is so rare, you have to understand why Maxis started work on it in the first place. Ars Technica cites librarian and archivist Dan Salvador of The Obscuritory, who says that SimRefinery is the work of the Business Simulations Division at Maxis – a division that was created to work alongside corporations and create video games that would teach (not necessarily train) employees about how their business worked.

SimRefinery, then, was the result of a partnership between Maxis Business Simulations and Chevron, which wanted a game that emulated the complexity of an oil refinery. The game was never completed, and until this image of a 3.5 floppy disk with a SimRefinery label appeared in Ars Technica's comments section, most assumed that Maxis employees simply never held onto the unfinished prototype, deeming it unimportant.

While the copy of SimRefinery uploaded to archive.org isn't complete, it is playable, and it'll give you a look into the interesting world of enterprise video gaming. You can visit archive.org to play the game in your browser, or download the title and run it in DOSBox.