By Staff Writer Sawyer Pollitt.
Esports have come a long way since the days of Quake, StarCraft, and Counter-strike: Source. New games are always entering the spot light, however they always seem to have something in common. Fast paced competitive gameplay. The emergence of Farming Simulator 2019 into the esports scene seems to be changing that.
Farming Simulator is a surprisingly popular PC and console videogame series developed by GIANTS Software. It has sold a combined four million copies in a series of eight games since 2012. Farming Simulator focuses on the realistic management of a farm. Most of the gameplay revolves around the operation of massive farming vehicles and using them in a number of farm related tasks. At first glance this does not seem conducive to exciting gameplay, let alone conducive to a competitive sports team.
As of 2019, GIANTS Software has announced the first professional Farming Simulator esports league. They are offering a $280,000 prize for the victors of a ten tournament series taking place across a number of high-profile video game conventions such as Gamescom. The final tournament will be held at the annual Farmcon event in 2020. GIANTS Software’s professional league won’t be the first time that Farming Simulator has breached the competitive gaming world. It’s had an active community for years.
However, when sitting down to watch a Farming Simulator tournament, one can see how this style of game can lend itself to a competitive scene. The tournament used for reference in this article took place at Herofest located in Bern, Switzerland in 2018. Several other tournaments have been held at conventions such as AgriTechnica in 2017, and GameOn in 2018.
What looked like hundreds of people came to spectate teams of farming aficionados in a huge convention center. Sets of commentators called out plays being made by professional teams of three. These teams, adorned with sponsored jerseys played with a professionalism and single mindedness that would rival StarCraft players. The teams are well known amongst Farming Simulator devotees and garnered huge applause from the audience in attendance.
While the aesthetics of major esports are certainly present, one may wonder how competition works in a game where this no direct conflict or altercations. Farming Simulator tournaments work much in the same way as a traditional speed run. Two teams compete to complete the same goal, say clearing a field, or stacking hay bales, in the shortest amount of time. The reigning champions at the time of Herofest 2018 were able to complete their objective in under three minutes.
The massive attention garnered by events such as Awesome Games done Quick, an annual event where professional speed runners often set world records for completion times, shows that there is definitely demand for this style of gameplay. Thousands of viewers watch these events live and even more tune in remotely via Twitch or later-on through YouTube.
If the world of competitive Farming Simulator can reach these kinds of audiences it could pull a whole new demographic into the world of esports. A demographic that may normally not sit down to watch twitchy and ultra-precise gun battles, or high action-per-minute real time strategy games, may eagerly await the start of a tournament that focuses on the accurate and quick tilling of soil.
There seems to be a definite niche that a professional Farming Simulator league can fill. It may not be the most exciting for everybody, and it most likely won’t draw the same crowds as other games that are already established, but it will offer a place for those who may find themselves currently shying away from the world of professional gaming.