Though this isn’t the company’s first foray into video games, John Deere appears to have a more focused idea on the type of success it hopes to achieve in that market.
Citing the millions of players and Facebook users games such as FarmVille and Hay Day see on a daily basis, John Deere and games developer Soul and Vibe have announced a partnership that will bring games and apps to market that are centered around John Deere equipment.
Back in 2004, Deere released a farming simulator for the PC called John Deere: American Farmer. The game allowed players to design their own farm, pick their crops and, of course, use all types of Deere tractors and vehicles. The game was apparently successful enough to warrant a sequel, American Farmer Deluxe. You can watch gameplay from Deluxe above.
Receiving a bit more attention was Deere’s release for the popular Nintendo DS handheld in 2007, Harvest in the Heartland. The game featured touchscreen controls but was much more limited than American Farmer. It received a few positive reviews, but overall was panned for its bad controls, slow performance, lacking graphics and the way it beat players “over the head” with reminders of the brand.
This new agreement with Soul and Vibe and the games and apps that will result seem much different than those past attempts though. For starters, Soul and Vibe will be handling all of the development of future titles. In the past, two different game studios produced American Farmer and Heartland. In addition, Soul and Vibe will also be developing “virtual apparel and digital items for Avatars” and other content for Deere. That way your avatar on Xbox Live can wear a John Deere hat and t-shirt. You’d be surprised at the amount of money “virtual apparel” brings in and it’s smart for Deere to extend the brand there.
The first and most likely result of this partnership is a FarmVille-like farming simulator heavily featuring John Deere equipment. It’s an interesting move for sure as Deere could’ve avoided the cost and time involved in developing their own game by simply licensing use of the brand to FarmVille developer Zynga. But if the Deere-branded game takes off, (and I’d argue a lot of folks will be willing to try it solely due to the brand power) it’s obviously much more valuable.
And though farm-themed games and simulators are directly mentioned in the announcement and are the most obvious use of the John Deere brand when it comes to video games, the partnership also includes Deere’s line of construction equipment as well. Though they haven’t reached the popularity of farming simulators, construction sims are out there and with John Deere’s backing could be just the push this type of game needs to take off.
And if millions of kids and teens start playing construction simulators, that means a ton of exposure to an industry younger Americans have shown little interest for in recent years. Moving forward, the industry needs all the new blood it can get.
No specific games or apps have been announced just yet, but here’s to hoping John Deere isn’t so smitten with the opportunity its green equipment represents on screens everywhere, that it doesn’t realize that its yellow equipment can make for some pretty fun games as well.