Farming, as any farmer will tell you, is a massively complex and involved undertaking. But when you can do it from the comfort of your computer chair with all the arduous physical labour and financial risk removed, the satisfaction of planting and harvesting has made games like Farming Simulator quite popular. The latest iteration, Farming Simulator 19, sold over one million copies in its first ten days. Now, the game is taking the challenge of virtual farming to the next level with a competitive e-sports league.
Starting this summer, there will be a Farming Simulator league spanning two years and ten tournaments, ending at game-maker Giants own FarmCon in 2020. There have been competitive versions of the game before, but now winning will come with a €250,000 (~$284,000) prize.
The first-ever sanctioned Farming Simulator competition took place at AgriTechnica 2017, a farm-tech expo in Hanover, Germany. Initially hoping to draw the interest of younger attendees, all sides were apparently stunned at the overwhelming response.
“When the senior guys of AgriTechnica came by and saw how many people there were, I think that’s when they realized that they should do it again in two years on a bigger scale,” says Giants marketing manager Martin Rabl, speaking to Esports Observer. “Also, that’s when we realized that that’s something that we could potentially do on a bit more professional level.”
These initial matches first consisted of players trying to stack as many bales of hay as possible. Giants Software CEO Christian Ammann tells Esports Observer that the next competition will feature an “interesting game mode that’s really fun for a long time.” Like the initial competition, it will feature three-on-three teams.
E-sports have become bigger and bigger over the decade, especially juiced by the popularity of games like Fortnite. Last year, Fortnite maker Epic announced that it would be handing out $100 million worth of prize money in its competitions. While its unlikely that Farming Simulator will ever reach the heights of games like Fortnite, it appears to have garnered a consistent niche following.
And for three talented virtual farmers out there, 2020 will finally recognize their efforts in getting the crop yields just right.
Originally posted on Popular Mechanics