After making the Farming Simulator games for over a decade now, the Swiss game studio Giants Software announced today it’s decided to make the series into a full blown esport by committing 250,000€, or approximately $284,803 in prize money to the establishment of a Farming Simulator League wherein teams of three will compete to see who can be the best at stuff like stacking bales of hay.
Lots of games try to recreate the fun and joy of planting crops and caring for farm animals—think the Harvest Moon games or Stardew Valley. The Farming Simulator series tries to replicate the totality of agrarian life though in all its nitty gritty and mundane glory with a special focus on the machinery and tools involved. While annual FIFA sequels boast updated rosters and new stadiums, new versions of Farming Simulator sport ever larger lists of tractors and power tools you can manipulate in the game to grow and harvest crops.
So what does competitive Farming Simulator actually look like? Well in a 2018 championship event at FarmCon, an annual meetup for Farming Simulator fans, it revolved mostly around hardcore players seeing who could most quickly grab bales of hay scattered across a field using forklifts and stack them on a trailer platform. It might sound simple, but the draw of Farming Simulator is its attention to detail and recreating real life specs. Driving vehicles in the game is less like Grand Theft Auto and more like trying to control the real thing. Hence why many Farming Simulator fans prefer to play with steering wheels and control panels hooked up to their PC.
Unlike last year’s events, however, Giants Software said in a press release that the new Farming Simulator League will be built around teams of three and will challenge them with competing across a number of different farming-based tasks. The inaugural season of the league will focus on 10 separate tournaments, each hosted in Europe at events like GamesCom and Paris Games Week, with a point system to determine which teams will make it to the Championship tournament at FarmCon 2020.
In an interview with Esports Observer, Giants Software CEO Christian Ammann said that the plan is to have teams backed by farm-tech manufacturers rather than the usual gaming companies and esports organizations. There’s still not a lot of detail about how the upcoming league will be structured and there have been plenty of other gaming companies who have tried and failed to create a sustainable esport around their game, the latest being Daybreak and its disastrous H1Z1 League.
However competitive Farming Simulator pans out, fans of the game will at least get to try out the new 3 vs. 3 competitive mode for themselves when it launches in Farming Simulator 19 sometime down the road.