When you think of competitive gaming and e-sports, your mind probably drifts toward massively popular online games like Fortnite or Overwatch. But there are plenty of less-heralded games making their way in the space, including games about farming. Today, developer Giants Software announced a new Farming Simulator League, which is exactly what it sounds like: a competitive tournament for the enduringly popular PC series Farming Simulator.
It will consist of 10 tournaments across Europe, including big events like Gamescom and Paris Games Week, culminating in a grand final at FarmCon 2020. The developer is putting up €250,000 in prize money (around $280,000), and it has lured big-name sponsors like Logitech and Intel. The new league will pit players against each other in the most recent entry in the series, Farming Simulator 19, which sold a million copies in its first 10 days of availability last year.
Competitive Farming Simulator events have quietly existed for several years, relegated primarily to agriculture-focused events, but they drew big crowds of players who wanted to watch the best hay bale stackers in the world, prompting Giants CEO Christian Ammann to start looking at farming e-sports a bit more seriously. “That’s when we realized that that’s something that we could potentially do on a bit more professional level,” he told Esports Observer.
While many of the most popular e-sports leagues are following a model that closely resembles the world of professional sports, endeavors like Giants Software’s new league show that there’s a lot of room for different kinds of competitions. Not everyone wants to watch a perfect Fortnite build or a well-timed Counter-Strike headshot. “We have a unique opportunity,” says Ammann. “We believe we found the right mix of real farming and fun to play game elements to ensure everyone will find it entertaining.”