Star Trader is reminiscent of the classic Elite in that the player is in command of a spaceship with an objective to make as much money as possible by buying and selling goods, and transporting them to other worlds. Like Elite, the journeys are fraught with danger and can result in space battles which are played out in first-person from the cockpit of your spacecraft.
Unlike Elite, there are more things to do when not in Space. You must eat in order to maintain your strength and run the risk of being mugged. Also instead of a single shop to buy goods, the player has a choice of various locations, such as a gunsmith, a wine merchant, a general store, etc. Each action takes time in the day, and the availability of locations depends on the time of day.
In the Commodore 64 version, up to 8 players can play. Each user takes turns to conduct half a day of activities.