When talking with Chief Operating Officer Yann Le Tensorer and Associate Producer Laetitia Sodoyer of Farming Simulator at Focus Home Interactive’s What’s Next event, we got some fascinating takes on the accessibility of their games. Developer GIANTS Software, pretty much exclusively works on Farming Simulator, which has now become an annualized franchise. And seeing as how accessibility is such a hot topic right now, it seemed appropriate to hear their thoughts on the subject.
I asked them what they think their games have that might appeal to those who aren’t necessarily into farming. They replied:
LS: We try to add a strategic layer in the game now, which can be more interesting for people who might not be fond of sandboxes. So it’s a bit more interesting for them. Also, we have new features in the [Farming 19] version [like] scouting the terrain [and] taking care of [different] breeds. So it’s not only about fields and harvesting. It’s about [the entire] farm and how you grow it. [You] buy fields, you buy silos, big farms, etc. It’s also your business.
YLT: It can interest people that really aren’t into farming. There are also some fundamental things [that are appealing]. It’s a peaceful game where you can relax and enjoy the nature. Just those fundamentals can be appealing to [those who live] in big cities [and have] stress. Some who like, perhaps, when they go home to have some time to play a bit differently than what they play before. [Things] like Call of Duty. Sometimes you need [a sense of] pace. You do a lot of hardcore gaming [and think] “Ah, I’d like to relax. I can grow [my farm a bit]. Let’s see…did my cotton grow? I can [grow some] a bit there,” etc. Even if you aren’t so much into farming, the feeling you have when you play is relaxing [and] it can be interesting.
LS: Kids, as well are very interested [in it]. That’s a big part of the community.
I then pointed out that Farming Simulator seems intimidating and asked them what their thoughts on that were. Sodoyer pointed out that, yes, their games can be intimidating, but that they include tutorials and that there is little risk when playing. That is, there is no fail-state. Le Tensorer then stated:
You can do a bit [of] what you want in the game. Imagine if a six-year old kid can play the game. [The six-year old] is on his PlayStation and sees the [controller]. He can move around, and [maybe] he sees a tractor. He jumps into it and drives. He drives somewhere [and thinks] “What am I doing?” He’s having fun just by trying things that he could not try in real life. It’s not complicated.
With this in mind, it’s important to consider, at least from a business point of view. However, the line between business and art can be a difficult one to tread, especially if the idea is niche. The nice thing is that, contrary to difficult games like Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, From Software’s latest action game, you can’t die or fail in Farming Simulator.
Implementing this is much more difficult in a game that requires twitch reflexes, timing, or a clear fail-state. Not every artistic idea lines up with accessibility, sadly, and at the end of the day, developers must decide how to allocate their resources. On paper, the more accessible the game is, the better it will sell, right?
Even if Farming Simulator is niche, it’s comforting to know that they have developed it in such a way that allows for non-farming fans to play.