Farm life sims are a subgenre of life simulation games which fuse social simulation, dating sim and farm simulation elements. The games generally feature a protagonist going out to a rural setting and taking upon a farm, oftentimes because of an inheritance from a deceased relative, or because of urban boredom. The player-character grows crops and raises livestock to make money, and can interact with a wide cast of characters who are inhabitants of the town, and work toward the main plot's objective, if one exists. The game plots often featured dying ghost towns that must be revitalized by the player's actions.[1]

The genre origins were in the original Story of Seasons series (previously called Harvest Moon in English) which was almost the sole series in its genre up until Stardew Valley, a successful indie game inspired by it, popularized farm life sims as a distinct genre.[2]


The first game ever in the genre was Harvest Moon, which released in the later stages of the SNES console lifespan. Inspired by his childhood in the countryside and the game series Derby Stallion, producer Yasuhiro Wada wanted to make a rural setting "role-playing" game without any combat.[3] The game starred Pete as he moves out to the country to take upon a farm he inherited from his grandfather. The player could explore the town and interact with its inhabitants. As a bonus, the player could bond with and marry eligible bachelorettes in town, making it one of the earliest examples of a dating sim.[4] A later influential game in the Story of Seasons series was the spinoff Rune Factory which married farm life sim games with the Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) genre and featured dungeon crawling. JRPG fusions are now a noted variant of farm life sims.[5]

The series was the only series in its genre until fairly recently, and would often market itself as a role-playing game because of this. The series remained a stable, consistent property but did not sell in great numbers for many years.[6][3] In 2016, Eric Barone released the self-developed game Stardew Valley which exploded in popularity, becoming one of the most successful indie games ever. The game heavily popularized this type of game, and made it into a genre itself. Use of the phrase "farm life sim" started appearing after this.[2][7]

After Stardew Valley's success, the genre experienced a massive boom in popularity, and more farm life sims would release, many of which were also indie.[7][1][8] Square Enix would put out Harvestella, a JRPG fusion in the vein of Rune Factory.[9][10][11]

Notable examples

Non-indie games

Indie games


Joining in on the genre's boom, the 2.0 update of popular social sim Animal Crossing: New Horizons (2020) added the ability to create a farm and grow produce.[16]

See also


  1. ^ a b Carpenter, Nicole (September 13, 2022), "We're in the golden era of farming simulators", Polygon, archived from the original on September 14, 2022, retrieved September 17, 2022
  2. ^ a b Nintendo Life: How Stardew Valley Grew The Farm Sim While Harvest Moon Went To Seed | Nintendo Life, accessdate: June 22, 2023
  3. ^ a b Engadget: Yasuhiro Wada waxes nostalgic about Harvest Moon | Engadget, accessdate: June 22, 2023
  4. ^ Polygon: I found my first love in Harvest Moon - Polygon, accessdate: June 22, 2023
  5. ^ Lin, Amy (February 23, 2016). "Stardew Valley: Pushing The Boundaries of Farming RPGs". The Cornell Daily Sun. Archived from the original on February 25, 2016. Retrieved June 23, 2023.
  6. ^ Siliconera: A Closer Look At Harvest Moon's Growing Sales In Recent Years - Siliconera, accessdate: June 22, 2023
  7. ^ a b The Washington Post: ‘Stardew Valley’ fans should try Rune Factory, Cozy Grove and more - The Washington Post, accessdate: June 22, 2023
  8. ^ I Think We've Reached The Breaking Point Of Adorable Farming Sims: I Think We've Reached The Breaking Point Of Adorable Farming Sims, accessdate: June 22, 2023
  9. ^ Siliconera: How Does Harvestella Compare to Harvest Moon and Rune Factory: How Does Harvestella Compare to Harvest Moon and Rune Factory, accessdate: June 22, 2023
  10. ^ Bolding, Jonathan (2022-07-02). "Square Enix puts their spin on the farm and fantasy life sim with Harvestella". PC Gamer. Retrieved 2022-08-01.
  11. ^ "Harvestella is Square Enix's new fantasy farming sim/RPG on Switch". VentureBeat. 2022-06-28. Retrieved 2023-04-08.
  12. ^ Polygon: Disney Dreamlight Valley is the Kingdom Hearts of life-sim games - Polygon, accessdate: June 22, 2023
  13. ^ Frank, Allegra (March 6, 2017). "Ooblets is a Pokémon and Harvest Moon lover's dream game". Polygon.
  14. ^ Fae Farm's Like Stardew Valley But With An RPG On Top: Fae Farm's Like Stardew Valley But With An RPG On Top, accessdate: June 22, 2023
  15. ^ Sun Haven Is Stardew Valley With Dragons, Angels, And Demons:, accessdate: January 8, 2024
  16. ^ Parkin, Jeffrey (2021-11-05). "Animal Crossing: New Horizons farming guide". Polygon. Retrieved 2023-04-08.