Overall Rating: 10/10
HowTheMarketWorks is the best free stock market game I have seen. They had the most polished stock game I have come across, with supplemental video tutorials and user guides that made it really easy to get started and jump right in. There is great research tools build right in, plus a massive education center where beginners can always find something new. Every few months when I come back to the site, there is always some new feature or tool, and I really love that it works hard to keep things fresh.
For Schools: 11/11
The free stock game at HowTheMarketWorks is one of the only free options I have found that focuses most of its attention on the classroom. Teachers are given a huge amount of resources to work with, from class reports to lesson plans. Their investor education center also has over 600 investing, personal finance, and economics articles designed to be easily understood by students – teachers can even assign reading for students to complete, which is fully integrated in the stock game.
Students need to read the articles and take the quiz to get credit, which appears right in their virtual trading portfolio when they log in. There are also class rankings, and since all the trading is real-time, I couldn’t find a single contest where anyone could cheat.
For Your Own Contests: 6/6
This had, hands down, the most fluid contest creation I have seen on any stock market game. Just one screen with about 20 common-sense rules, the whole process from creating my account to having my custom class contest set up and ready to invite my friends was less than 5 minutes.
Using It On Your Own: 6/6
Individuals will get just as much out of this site as teachers and students. There are really great research tools (with historical prices, SEC filings, research by sector, and a lot more), professional analytics are built right in to the trading.
My review of HowTheMarketWorks
HowTheMarketWorks is primarily an education tool with a free stock game. Anyone can sign up an account and start trading in their portfolio in less than 3 minutes. Out of all the sites I have reviewed, this one definitely is the fastest getting a trader “on their feet”.
It helps that the stock game is “front and center”, rather than something tacked on as an afterthought to the rest of the site (like I found with Investopedia and Marketwatch). On the whole, the site was very user-friendly, well thought out, and a great tool that I keep coming back to again and again.
Registration was super simple – just a username, password, and first name are required, which is great for schools that have privacy concerns for their students. You can also register using your Google or Facebook account.
Once you add this information, you’re signed up and logged in automatically – no waiting for a confirmation email that probably gets caught by spam filters like on other sites. You also are greeted with a “getting started” guide that takes you straight to the tutorial videos that can walk you through how to trade and manage a portfolio, to the Education Center where you can read about investing basics, or just straight to trading.
The Stock Game
The stock market game on HowTheMarketWorks is really world-class. I have seen this site evolve a few times over the last several years, each time they make things easier to use, faster to trade, and just generally more fun to use.
There are great tutorial videos that get updated regularly, plus plain user guides that can help you with whatever you need. Best of all, if you have any questions, they even offer a live chat support desk – an absolute first for any free game I’ve seen.
Trading a stock is also super simple, even for beginners. You can look up stocks either by their ticker, or just by typing the company name. The trading page includes company names and logos, so you know you’re looking at the right thing, plus even colorful charts showing how each stock’s price moves. The trading game also has mutual funds.
The contests on HowTheMarketWorks are also the best I’ve seen. You can choose all your contest settings, like most stock games, but you can even configure things like the portfolio currency. Everything is all done in one step, so creating a contest takes less than 5 minutes, with a Live Chat built right into the page if you need help.
Its also very easy to join contests. Contest creators can just give a direct link to anyone that will join them automatically into a contest you create, or you can look at the list of public contests and join one at any time. HowTheMarketWorks also has prized contests every month, open to the public. I participate in these regularly, and I don’t see any of the unfair rankings I’ve seen elsewhere – HowTheMarketWorks seems to always use the real-time bid/ask prices for all orders, so there is no way to cheat.
Other Site Perks
HowTheMarketWorks is all about the stock game, so there is a lot less “in the way” between you and your portfolio. When you log in, you get a clear and concise dashboard you can use to see all the parts of your portfolio, along with the links to tutorials and help if you need it.
There is also a really great Education Center, with some very well-written articles for beginners. If you want to use HowTheMarketWorks in a class, you can also add many of these articles as “required reading” using their Assignments feature.
Between the Education Center, Stock Game, super easy Contests, and great support, HowTheMarketWorks is easily the best free stock game I have ever seen.