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Farming Simulator 19 and the ethics of pesticide brands

I always skip over the details of licensed equipment manufacturers in industrial simulators, treating them largely as different paint schemes, but a new interview with Farming Simulator 19 creative director Thomas Frey makes me more far more interested in the issue than I ever thought I would be. Talking with our corporate siblings GamesIndustry.biz, Frey explained the difficulties of landing licenses, and, unexpectedly, some of the ethical issues presented by particular brands and products. Okay, I guess I’m now into tractor brands.

The GI.biz interview comes off the back of Giants Software’s E3 announcement that they’d secured the John Deere license. I don’t know John Deere from a Dear John letter, but apparently this was a big deal for many tractheads – y’know, folks interested in tractors beyond joyriding across virtuafields with their pals while blasting Bangarang. Aye it’s a sponsored article so it is sorta an advert, but there’s interesting stuff in there beyond Frey puffing up Giants.

Here’s this on how they want to only having one licensed brand to dozens.

“But to begin with, it was very challenging to convince the agricultural manufacturers to become a licensor, because they often didn’t have any clue about video games. We always had to explain what Farming Simulator was all about. They couldn’t imagine or understand what we were doing. And often the manufacturers would compare us with scale model or toy producers.

“[. . . ] But over the years, the game got bigger and bigger – especially in Germany – so that helped a lot. When we approached brands it started to be a case of them already knowing the game, perhaps their kids were playing it, and with the game available, we were able to show nice videos.”

In a similar vein, I’ve enjoyed Truck Simulator developers SCS Software talking over the years about their struggles to get real-world trucks and trailers into the game – and the importance of getting it right.

But the bit I most like here is:

“Sometimes there are other brands that might want to join the games, which have been rejected so far. Things like pesticide and herbicide producers, because those are a bit more problematic, especially when you think about Monsanto.”

Which calls to mind Simon Parkin’s great 2013 investigation Shooters: How Video Games Fund Arms Manufacturers. I’ve no idea of the ethics of any brand Farming Simulator does include (as mentioned, I don’t know my Massey Fergy from my elbow), so I don’t know if they follow through, but I’m fascinated to see Frey even raise the idea.

Farming Simulator 19 is due to launch this autumn. Urban dolts like me are probably far more interested in riding horses and the banter potential of four-player harvesting, as seen in this joyous cinematic trailer from E3:

I had a peek and that video’s comments section is filled with people stoked about John Deere vehicles. “JOHN DEERE IN THE GAME ? IT’S NOT REAL OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG´╗┐” says one, excitement so great it breaks our website layout. “Holy schnikies John Deere is finally here!!” says another. I still don’t feel that myself, but I am glad they’re so glad. Plough on, you crazy diamonds.

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Alice O'Connor

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When not writing news, Alice may be found in the sea.

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