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Dev team behind Forza Horizon 5 leaves Xbox’s Playground Games to form new studio

With Forza Horizon 5 creative director Mike Brown setting out on a new venture by creating a new triple-A development studio called Maverick Games, what does the future hold for the Forza franchise?

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Maverick Games are looking to make a splash with more open world titles

The gaming industry continues to expand after the brilliant minds behind 2021 Game of the Year candidate, Forza Horizon 5, announced their new project. With initial funding secured for its debut game, which will be a new, premium open-world title for consoles and PC, things are ready to kick off.

Headquartered in Leamington Spa, the UK-based triple-A development studio named Maverick Games isn't short on renowned talent. Apart from being big Top Gun fans, the studio is constructed from its Playground Games foundation as well as some well-known names.

Forza Horizon 5 creative director Mike Brown is leading the charge with the help of former Sumo Digital co-studio head Harinder Sangha, who will be the chief operating officer at Maverick Games. Former EA experience design director Elly Marshall will be taking over as the company’s UX/UI director. Meanwhile, Tom Butcher, the former lead producer at Xbox’s Playground Games, is also joining the team as the executive producer.

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Will Maverick's first IP be a racing game?

Playground’s technical director, Matt Craven, has taken up the role of chief technology officer for Maverick Games. The technical art director at the Xbox studio, Gareth Harwood, is picking up content directing responsibilities for the new studio while audio director Fraser Strachan is keeping the same role as when he was working on Forza. The same goes for former Playground studio art director, Ben Penrose, who is now Maverick’s art director.

The announcement was highlighted with the usual boilerplate quote from creative director Brown who had this to say on this special occasion:

Our goal is for Maverick Games to be a studio people will love," he says. "For players, we're already at work on an exciting ultra-high quality title, and for developers, we're building a home where everyone is encouraged to take risks, be curious, be creative, be innovative, be themselves, and above all—be a Maverick.

Mavericks are the complete opposite of team players, but these talented folks are already hard at work on their new project. With a "premium open-world game for consoles and PC” in the works and funding secured before they stepped out of Playground Games, the onus is completely on them. They nailed it with Forza Horizon 5 which was released in November 2021. It immediately became the biggest launch in Xbox history according to Microsoft. With over 10 million players registered in the first week and 20 million active users in seven months since its release, the latest edition of the Forza franchise was a complete success.

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Scott Kostov

Scott Kostov // Articles: 129

A passion for writing and gaming has propelled Scott down the path of content creation. When he isn't scouring every known source on the internet for information, he's a track addict vibing to music in the countryside of sunny Macedonia. Link up with Scott on Twitter and Steam.
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